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6 mistakes to avoid when marketing internationally

GCL | 8 April 2022


Many successful brands, leaning on their success in local markets, have taken the brave leap into foreign markets. Unfortunately, some of these brands have stumbled, if not completely fallen on their face. Here are some of the most common global marketing mistakes that companies can make.

Failing to specify a country

Marketers and executives who do not live in a region might think about it in homogenous terms. For example, they may be interested in expanding their business in Kenya, but refer to and think about it as simply “Africa”. Similarly, they might want to launch their product in the UAE, but their framework of thinking is defined by the Middle East as a whole. 

Marketers should be wary of not identifying countries clearly, or even more specifically, regions within countries. Different domestic regions may have their own values, cultures and business practices that dramatically impact how you launch a marketing strategy in that region. 

Failure to research this aspect of your international marketing strategy may result in important details being missed, like a local competitor that’s already well entrenched.

Failing to take internal data into account

Third-party data might not be all that useful when launching your brand in a new region. Specialised, internal marketing research will help you gather information on these three key points in that market:

  1. What estimated opportunities are available? 
  2. How easy will it be for your company to do business? 
  3. How much success have you already had with that market?

Gathering data from your own sources will answer these questions more effectively. 

Failing to change their sales and marketing channels

Just because your strategy works in one region, doesn’t mean it will work in another. When launching in a new region, consider how to adapt your sales and marketing channels so that it’s relevant. 

Failing to do your research and adapt could see you invest heavily into an approach that’s destined to crash and burn.

Failing to adapt the product offering

Your product also needs to be adapted to suit the needs of the local market. While companies can get away with launching an identical product in culturally similar regions, it would be a mistake to make that assumption for a region with different beliefs and value structures.

People’s experience with similar products also needs to be taken into account. If you launch a highly advanced product in a region where a similar device or service has never been sold before, potential customers may be left scratching their heads wondering what to do with half the features. 

Price also needs to be adapted to the needs of the local people. If the local population can’t afford your main offering, consider stripping some features and offering it at a more suitable price point. 

Failing to take direction from local teams

Your local team should be trusted to guide your company in a new region, but companies can fail to take input from them. Don’t just pay lip service to the people you hire to get your brand off the ground in a new market. Pay attention to your existing connections within a region in order to increase your chances of success.

Failing to factor in global logistics

Physical and digital logistics need to be taken into account. For example, how will you adapt your supply chain to a new region? Or does your payment solution work in the new region?  Again, assumptions are often made, or issues not given significant enough priority when expanding into a new market, which can have a dramatic impact on the operations there.

Three international marketing mistakes

Here are a few examples of brands that didn’t think things through when launching in new international regions:

  • • KFC is so good you won’t stop eating, even when the chicken is finished – When KFC first launched in China, their well-known catchphrase “finger-licking good” was translated as “eat your fingers off”. While one can appreciate the dark humour behind the idea that their food is that tasty, this was obviously not what KFC had in mind. Thankfully they were able to bounce back from this misstep and are now the number one fast food franchise in China.

  • Anything Starbucks can do, Australian coffee houses can do better – Starbucks may be an internationally recognised brand, but that doesn’t mean people will immediately fall in love with it. Australians, who already have a thriving coffee culture, didn’t embrace Starbucks with open arms. Starbucks didn’t anticipate this and ended up closing 70% of its stores, leaving only 23 open in 2018.

  • Walmart flies the white flag in Germany –  In 2006, Walmart announced that they would be ceasing operations in Germany, 8 years after they entered the market. Walmart wasn’t able to leverage its advantage into better food prices and didn’t take into consideration how many people rely on public transport.

Partner with international B2B telemarketing experts to avoid a marketing blunder

GCL is a B2B marketing and lead generation business with over 30 years of experience in international B2B telemarketing. We understand the importance of localisation and can help your agency avoid any embarrassing or financially disastrous B2B telemarketing mistakes.

To discover more about how GCL’s telemarketing and lead generation services can help, be sure to check out our ebook, Guide to Global Business, or contact us today.


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