We know about global brands. The big players like Apple and Coke. But for many manufacturers, a successful exporting strategy requires a degree of adaptability, to ensure their product is culturally appropriate for the target market.
Even businesses that have had a phenomenal growth and success in their home market can find the going gets tough when exporting. Cultural differences may be quite subtle – such as colour and packaging design preferences – but significant.
Exporting The Right Product
“We know we have a great product, but how we market and sell that product overseas can vary depending on the individual country,” observes Jae Rance, founder and Managing Director of Scratchsleeves, based in Winchester.
Jae’s company manufactures specialist garments for young children and toddlers to help protect them from the effects of common, but distressing, skin irritations, such as eczema and psoriasis.
“The idea behind the product was protective mitts that would actually stay on,” Jae says. “Because we were addressing a widespread problem in an innovative way, we were able to really resonate with our customers.”
The company has been a great success, and like many agile enterprises, now has a growing export market to sell to, through online retailers.
Appearance Is Important
What Jae has found is that different markets are more attuned to different variations of Scratchsleeves garments.
“For example, stripes sell much better than the plain version in America. In fact, for the American market we don’t really bother with the plain versions at all because we know what sells best there,” Jae explains. “And we sell more of the gender neutral colours in Scandinavian countries.”
“Products can transcend cultural barriers, but sometimes certain details need changing. This can make all the difference to how successfully they perform in export markets”
Jae Rance, Scratchsleeves
“Skin irritation in children affects parents all over the world,” Jae says. “But from a business perspective, Scratchsleeves is still a product like anything else, and if we have to fine-tune our range to be successful, then that’s what we do.”
The continuing success of Scratchsleeves illustrates two key elements about export in the UK. Firstly, agile, online exporting can be a huge success, reaching many more markets, more efficiently, than would have been possible prior to the internet.
Secondly, focusing on each target export market is crucial. And making the right adjustments to meet cultural preferences is essential to ensure export success.
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