I am frequently approached by Large and medium size corporations and manufacturers to discuss how to enter markets from Asia and how to enter Asia/Oceania from Europe.
Essentially both groups of clients want the same thing, for some this can be market presence or figurehead representation in far off exotic lands, for others the possibility to add to their market portfolio in more affluent geographic areas, some its merely window dressing – however almost all are looking for additional revenue or economies of scale and the enlightened few for a stronger brand presence and the increased value that brings long term.
Many have gone the large agency route and paid hundreds of thousands of euros or dollars believing a big name will bring the magic formula to great wealth on foreign shores.
Whilst in some rare cases this can be true, there is no quick or easy route to success as any entrepreneur will tell you.
In most cases these large companies will factor on the figure work, buying in data from providers and assembling it into sleek looking reports that look professional, but do little more than a good intern could do with google for a day- lesson number one Value everyone including the intern!
I am a firm believe that structure and a team of resources is important, but ownership is fundamental in any project to ensure or give the best possible grounds for success, however that is measured.
A great recent example would be a client building a premium two-wheel offering looking to find the correct demographic and positioning for the new brand in the international market place.
We were stunned to find the data used to construct the business case by the very well known consultancy was from the 1970’s global premium car market as the credited source.
Even more worrying was the fact that despite this the client had based their projections for the business on this data and had commissioned another several hundred-thousand-euro report for other areas -purely because “the agency was so large that they couldn’t possibly be wrong”. Right? wrong!
Scale and workforce does not guarantee efficiency or insight, individuals do though regardless of business size.
Maybe you are paying a few hundred euros a day for consultancy, maybe tens of thousands – ultimately, it’s a lottery but one thing is sure -if the consultant knows their chosen area of expertise well it can be money well spent and money saved in poor unresearched decisions or unnecessary expenditure.
When evaluating a new geographic market a few but not definitive considerations need to be considered/advised on.
- Why do I want to be in this market?
- What are my goals after entry?
- Do I want to be directly present or would I consider 3rd party representation or importers?
- Am I prepared to invest for many years before I see a return?
- Can I manage the remote nature of the business across different time zones, cultural differences, and languages?
- Will my product need homologation or testing prior to entering this market & if so can I manage the time and cost implications?
- Does our product have a robust& cost-effective packaging method able to withstand temperatures or indeed a tropical climate?
- Do we have sufficient copyright or trade mark documentation to ensure our products are not devalued or plagiarised upon market entry?
- What local resource is required to deliver my plan?
- Are my expectations realistic?
Well that’s the basic question pack you need to answer internally before you consider hiring an entity or individual to enlighten you.
Let’s not forget that as the client you have every right to ask your consultants why they are uniquely qualified to represent you and what experience they have in these areas.
Always remember that Non-disclosure agreements protect most projects many years after the project has been completed or fulfilled so information may be limited -after all huge companies do not want its consumers or competitors knowing how they achieved the results and would like to keep them to themselves and maintain that strategic advantage.
Some of the best business cases in the world were built in tiny offices by a handful of people and that can be true of consultants too – choose wisely and not superficially and you just might find the diamond amongst the stones.