For many branded packaged goods, international diversification is an important part of the brand strategy. This strategy is absolutely sound; but, like all strategy, is wholly dependent upon executing with excellence. Establishing and maintaining export markets (our primary reference is Canada) is fraught with risk and the failures legion. Yet there are many successes as well, and the value of a successful export venture can be substantial…and so pursuit of export is encouraged under the right go-to-market approach. Here, then, are some of the more common mistakes worth noting and avoiding at all costs:
Failure to Test Demand
Not all successful brands travel well. In the Canadian market your competitive set may be different, the Trade’s presentation of your category may differ and, in general, you should test to determine sales potential and to find out whether you will need to fine-tune things to delight the Canadian consumer. The good news is that there are excellent and relatively affordable methods at your disposal.
Failure to Analyze the Environment
The Canadian retail trade is unique: highly concentrated, highly motivated to drive house brands and each of them distinct from one another and so requiring account specific effort. Your competitive set may well be different too, as are Canadian culture, rules/regulations etc. In fact- there are real differences between regions within Canada (knowing Ontario may not help you to know Quebec).
Failure to Develop an Export Market Plan
Successful brands are guided by strategic and tactical plans in the home market, an export market is no different. The ability to work with you to develop plans is a core competence to look for in distribution partners, and the plan will ensure that all in-market resources stay focused on your business and on staying on strategy.
Failure to Assign Appropriate Resource
Successful exports find and partner with in-market professional beyond those capable of simply lining up distribution and shipping goods. Planning, developing and integrating sales and marketing programs, driving account specific initiatives, securing communication and research services cost effectively are but a few of the areas of required focus that separate merely competent and excellent partners- and can mean the difference between success and failure.