International Business Strategies

The Survival Guide to Entering Emerging Markets

Retailers, gain insights into overseas emerging markets—and how to engage new customers online—with these tips.

Reagan Evans's avatar
Reagan Evans

February 08, 2016


Retailers in every industry-from apparel and cosmetics to accessories and electronics-have firmly embraced the Internet as a sales and marketing channel. And their efforts are literally paying off: most quickly see growth in their home markets.

But as competition increases and the world gets smaller (both thanks to the Internet), brands must expand into new markets to remain relevant and generate more growth. Increasingly, emerging markets are providing the greatest opportunities, particularly in e-commerce and m-commerce.

In 2014, CMOs based in Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe, were asked about their current and future marketing plans for emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Russia, India and Turkey.

These CMOs overwhelmingly believed that within the mere years, emerging markets would become "more important" in their market strategies than ever. (More than 80% of CMOs in Asia and Europe agreed with the statement; more than 60% of CMOs in North America agreed.) Nearly 70% of CMOs based in Asia said emerging markets were already "crucial" to their current business mix.

The opportunity is real. According to Goldman Sachs, global GDP will increase by 3.5% this year over 2015. The GDPs of emerging markets will grow the most: 4.9% in 2016 over 2015, compared to a 4.4% year-over-year increase in 2015 over 2014.

The opportunity is visible in other ways, such as these markets’ rapid adoption of smartphones and social networks. Take a look at Latin America. According to recent comScore data, Latin Americans are crazy about social media, spending about 30% of their desktop computer time visiting social networks—more than all other global consumers. Latin Americans spent 6.1 hours on social media each month. Brazilians spent 8.8 hours each month. (North Americans spent less than half of that time on social media.)

Progressive companies are taking note, and engaging with these markets.

For instance, mobile advert spends are through the roof in China. They reached $15.8 billion last year (eclipsing desktop spending for the first time), according to a recent eMarketer report. Mobile spending now represents nearly 25% of all media advert spending in the market, a "higher level than in any other market worldwide," the report said. Spending will grow by nearly 60% in 2016, with annual growth expanding by 20% or more for the next three years.

But back to that survey of CMOs we recently mentioned. Those professionals universally agreed that the biggest hurdle to overcome in creating great marketing campaigns for emerging markets was cultural and consumer differences.

Further, a recent study by mobile-advert platform Clickky suggests that more than 80% of campaigns in emerging markets are focused more on clicks than engagement-a strategy that must change, if companies are craving customer retention.

So how can retailers smartly and resonantly connect with brand-new consumers in these emerging markets? We've compiled several tips.

Become Culturally Fluent

Big advert and marketing spends will certainly generate interest for your brand in emerging markets, but if those messages don't resonate with your new customers-to-be, it's wasted money.

This can be tricky territory, since this strategy requires a breed of in-market expertise many companies don't have. Messaging must be meticulously crafted for local consumers, and cater to their unique cultural sensibilities and concerns.

Put another way: What plays in America can fall flat in global markets.

Kellogg’s famously experienced this in the mid-90s. The cereal manufacturer entered the Indian market, keen to woo more than a billion new customers. Indians were uninterested, or couldn’t afford the products. Convenience-savvy consumers, who were most likely to appreciate Kellogg’s products, kept buying breakfast cookies from roadside vendors. Kellogg’s sales were anemic, until it produced a line of low-cost cookies and distributed them to roadside stalls.

When Acer deployed its “Simply My Life” campaign in China, consumers didn’t bite. PC purchases are a big deal for Chinese families; they’re far more concerned about durability than cost. Acer’s messaging, which focused on its low prices, unwittingly convinced Chinese consumers that the PCs were unreliable!

The takeaway: Brands must understand an emerging market's traditions, and its zeitgeist. Partnerships with savvy agencies or localisation providers often demystify these nuances, and help tap into consumers' true sensibilities.

Become Literally Fluent

Of course, if this in-market messaging isn’t actually in the market’s preferred language, it’ll miss the mark every time.

MotionPoint localises websites and marketing material for hundreds of brands in many emerging markets. Getting a company's content "in language" is the critical first step to engaging new international consumers.

ChannelAdvisor agrees. "Translation should be at the core of your expansion plans," it recently wrote. "Advertising to new regions, particularly on marketplaces, requires listing details (e.g., product title, description) to be translated into the local language. Spending the time to get your data properly translated will ensure you reach those customers with optimal clarity."

Indeed, we've found that simply translating a website-with no additional effort invested in crafting customised messaging for local consumers, or deploying other market-specific optimizations-often generates traffic growth of around 11% in their first year, and 17% by their third year. (This data reflects our analysis of Spanish sites localised for the U.S. Hispanic market.)

According to Victoria Bloyer, a Global Online Analyst for MotionPoint's Global Growth team: "Our research indicates that 30% to 50% of a localised website's value comes exclusively from translation," she says. "Simply being in-market, in-language, is a powerful 'must-have' for companies as they expand into emerging markets."

So where does the remaining value of a localised website come from? Technology-driven optimizations, we've found. These optimizations can generate increased sales of around 123% in a site's first year, and 160% by its third year-much higher than with translation alone.

Let’s take a closer look.

Intelligent Language-Preference Detection

Sometimes, improving engagement is as straightforward as notifying emerging-market customers that a website exists for their market, in their language of choice.

MotionPoint's EasyLink® Management technology improves an international website's consumer experience and performance by welcoming first-time visitors in the language they are most likely to speak. It also prompts the consumer to set other preferences, including appropriate country, language and currency. It then automatically remembers these preferences for return visits.

“This seemingly simple service can generate powerful engagement results,” Victoria says.

As an example: MotionPoint works with a popular high-end Japanese cosmetics brand, and has localised its website for consumers in mainland China.

"The brand and its products were already well-known in China," Victoria explains. "Their products have been common souvenirs for Chinese tourists to Japan for years. So even with translation alone, the site was performing well."

However, after implementing EasyLink Management, things got even better:

  • Traffic increased 246%
  • Conversion rate went up 275%
  • Revenue skyrocketed a whopping 1,176%

"These clients saw huge returns by just amping up what they were already doing," Victoria says. "Do you have language-rich URLs on your origin site? Translate those, to boost your SEO power. Do you have a site in-language? Make sure users can easily get to it. You don't need to do a lot. You just do a few things smartly."

Last updated on February 08, 2016
Reagan Evans's avatar

About Reagan Evans

Reagan Evans is MotionPoint's SVP of Sales. He has a strong background in sales and data management and has nearly 10 years of executive level experience in the field. He uses his expertise in global sales, new business development, sales production, and data organisation to drive MotionPoint's market expansion and new client acquisition. Evans leverages MotionPoint's industry-leading technology to drive sales and ensure higher customer satisfaction.

Reagan Evans's avatar
Reagan Evans

SVP, Head of Sales


Keep Learning

Here is some related information that you might enjoy

Localising Assortments and Product Allocation is Key for Global Brands

Localising Assortments and Product Allocation is Key for Global Brands

A Complete Guide to Website Localisation

A Complete Guide to Website Localisation

How U.S. Marketers Can Satisfy Spanish Speaking Customers

How U.S. Marketers Can Satisfy Spanish Speaking Customers

10 Ways to Expand Your Brand's Global Reach with Online Localisation

10 Ways to Expand Your Brand's Global Reach with Online Localisation