When planing an expansion into foreign markets, organizations often describe themselves as developing a "global strategy." In fact, that term actually describes just one of several types of foreign market expansion, all of which represent very different approaches to conducting business overseas.
As your company looks to move into new markets, your success may depend on choosing a strategy that matches both your business model and your product. Here's a rundown of three of the most common methods of foreign market expansion:
- International: Following an international strategy, organizations maintain a set of objectives and standards that relate primarily to their home market. As they grow and set their sights on overseas trade, they develop another set of objectives that remain secondary to those of the home market. This is demonstrated in the case of an American dairy farm that primarily does business locally, but sells its excess product to several small buyers in Europe.
- Multinational: Firms using the multinational, or multidomestic, strategy take a specialized approach in each new market they enter beyond their home country. This model trades efficiency for responsiveness, as multinational companies work to identify and adapt their brand to local preferences, demand and competition. For example, MTV tailors the programming shown on its channels in response to the interests of the dozens of countries in which it airs, rather than showing them all its American offerings.
- Global: Companies that follow a truly global strategy treat the world as a single, massive market with little to no local variation. These companies take the opposite approach to multinational firms, sacrificing responsiveness to local preference in favor of maximizing efficiency. While global companies may make slight tweaks to their products in different markets, their true focus is capturing the economy of scale. One clear example of a global company is Microsoft, whose software programs differ little more than in language no matter where they are sold. Besides the language itself, however, a thorough understanding of each market is required.
To execute any of these strategies successfully, its integral for a business to have as a member of their c-level staff an expert on either the target market or someone with experience expanding a company into new markets. Working with global executive search firms can help organizations connect with these top performers both locally and around the world, giving them the expertise they may need to determine which model will put the company in the best position to flourish.
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