Nine international market entry strategies for SMEs in 2023

Recently, Elon Musk’s Starlink expanded operations into Nigeria – Africa’s largest country. In 1990, McDonald’s explored Russia and opened its first outlet in Moscow. In 2006, Vodafone – a UK-based company – launched in Italy.


Even right now, as we speak, many UK-based real estate SMEs are earning off the condominium markets in Singapore. And they’re turning huge profits by investing in properties such as the Grand Dunman.

So, what’s stopping you from entering new markets?

Perhaps you don’t know how to get started. If so, you need not to worry.

This article presents nine innovative ways for SMEs to enter new markets in 2023.

Identifying new markets: Research and analysis

Research and analysis are essential to understanding the potential of a new market. Before you can enter a new market, you need to identify it. Analysing and researching the market will help you choose which markets to enter and how to approach them.

One way to identify new markets is to look at your existing customer base. Are there any commonalities among your customers that suggest a unique market opportunity? For example, if you sell luxury fashion items and notice that a significant portion of your customers are from Asia, it may be worth exploring the Asian market.

Another way to identify new markets is by using data analytics tools. These tools can help you analyse market trends, consumer behaviour, and competitor activity.

Finally, consider hiring a consultant who specialises in market research and analysis.

Creating a market entry strategy

Once you have identified a new market, you must create a ‘plan’ to enter it. This is what we call a business plan.

A typical market entry business plan would outline your objectives, target market, marketing plan, financial projections, marketing approach, distribution channels, and a risk assessment. This entry strategy should also consider the new market's cultural differences and regulatory requirements.

Another way to create a market entry strategy is to leverage the expertise of local partners. These partners can help you navigate the cultural and regulatory landscape and provide valuable insights into consumer behaviour. For example, if you’re a real estate company looking to enter a market such as the Singapore condo, you can work with local realtors to get a good understanding of what you’re going into.

Entering new markets through partnerships and collaborations

Partnering other businesses is an effective way to enter a new market. Collaborating with local businesses can provide access to established distribution channels, local expertise, and an existing customer base. Some ways to enter new markets through partnerships and collaborations include:

Joint ventures: A joint venture involves two or more businesses forming a new legal entity. This entity operates independently of the parent companies and can provide access to new markets, shared resources, and reduced risk.

Licensing agreements: A licensing agreement allows a business to use another company's intellectual property in exchange for royalties or other compensation. Licensing agreements can provide access to new markets and established brands.

Franchising: Franchising allows a business to expand by licensing its brand and business model to other entrepreneurs. Franchising can provide access to new markets and an established brand reputation.

Using e-commerce platforms for global reach

E-commerce platforms can provide access to global markets without needing a physical presence. By using e-commerce platforms, SMEs can reach customers in different countries and expand their reach. Some popular e-commerce platforms for global reach include:

Amazon: Amazon is the biggest web-based retailer on the planet and gives admittance to clients in north of 180 nations.

Alibaba: A Chinese e-commerce platform that provides access to customers in Asia and beyond.

Shopify: Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform allowing businesses to create online stores and sell to customers worldwide. If you're considering this platform, it's worth noting that it comes with its own set of quirks so make sure you get Shopify bookkeeping help from a certified e-commerce bookkeepers.

When using e-commerce platforms, it's essential to consider local regulations, payment methods, and cultural differences.

Localising products and services for new markets

Localising products and services is an essential step in entering a new market. This involves adapting your products or services to meet needs and preferences of local consumers. Depending on the type of business in question, localisation may involve establishing a local presence in the new market. This can include opening a physical store or office, hiring local staff, or partnering with local businesses.

Other means of localising include:

Adapting product features and specifications: This may involve adjusting your products' size, colour, or functionality to meet local preferences.

Translating product documentation and marketing materials: Localising your marketing materials and product documentation can help you communicate effectively with local consumers.

Localising your pricing strategy: Pricing strategies may need to be adjusted to reflect local market conditions and consumer preferences.

Leveraging social media for market entry

SMEs can use social media as a powerful tool to enter new markets. It helps them reach a large audience and build brand awareness in the new market. Social media can be leveraged for market entry in the following ways:

Creating local social media accounts can help you establish a local presence and connect with local consumers.

Running targeted ads: Targeted ads can help you reach specific audiences and promote your products or services to potential customers.

Engaging with local influencers: Influencers can help you reach a bigger audience and build brand awareness in the new market.

When utilising social media for market entry, it's crucial to consider cultural differences and language barriers.

Participating in international trade shows and events

Participating in international trade shows and events can provide access to new markets and potential customers. Trade shows and events can help you showcase your products or services, network with other businesses, and learn about recent market trends. Some popular international trade shows and events include:

CES: The Consumer Electronics Show is the largest electronics trade show in the world and provides access to a global audience.

SIAL: SIAL is a global food innovation trade show that provides access to buyers and distributors worldwide.

Mobile World Congress: This is the world's largest mobile technology trade show and provides access to a global audience.

Overcoming language and cultural barriers

Language and cultural differences can be a significant barrier to entering new markets. To overcome these barriers, SMEs can:

Hire local employees or consultants who understand the culture and speak the language.

Use translation services to translate marketing materials and product documentation.

Conduct cultural training for employees who will be working in the new market.

By addressing language and cultural barriers, SMEs can establish a strong presence in the new market and build trust with local consumers.

Investing in market research and development

Market research and development are crucial for entering new markets. It includes researching market trends, consumer behaviour, and competitor activity while developing new products/services that meet local preferences. Though costly, it's essential for long-term success in the new market, as SMEs can adapt their strategy and stay ahead of competitors.

Conclusion: The Future of SMEs in global markets

Entering new markets can be challenging yet rewarding for SMEs. That’s why you need to stay informed about market trends. That way, you can adapt your strategies to stay ahead of the curve. The future of SMEs in global markets is bright, and taking proper steps can lead to success.

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