Dec 3, 2013

when the apple does fall far from the tree

Today's story is about apples [b2b kind of apples, to keep my blog topics relevant].

Let's consider that your company sells apples. Say your company was established in a market where the tastiest apples are [almost] exclusively grown in your orchard.

That places your company in a very comfortable position vs. competitors and potential new-comers on the market. Customers have little choice if they are looking for good quality apples - they know you and have to come to you whenever they want their fruit.

Now think that your master-of-apples company expands internationally.

There are some strong believers of the idea that a company should maintain a consistent product portfolio across markets. There are situations where a group might consider a good idea to enforce its home market strategy on external markets.

Although that makes very much sense in terms of brand reputation and positioning, this approach applies only for those markets that are very similar to the company's home market.

Back to the apples - say your company enters a market where apples are everywhere - apple trees growing on every side of the road.

It would be highly unreasonable to enter this market with the attitude [positioning] that you're the only provider of apples and expect success and profit.

The fact that you're King in your home market will have no impact whatsoever on your new potential market. You won't be able to leverage your main advantage in this away game. If these customers want an apple, they just have to randomly reach out and pick one.

So perhaps in this new market, your company will need to start selling pears; maybe you should keep offering apples, but differentiate in terms of processing, packaging, or creatively combine them with other [b2b] fruits; or maybe you should even be considering other markets.

For sure, the key success factors are different from the ones working in your home market and your company needs to figure them out. Making the assumption that the same success can be simply "harvested" from new markets and that the same formula works everywhere comes from arrogance and inadequate sense of self-worth.

The bigger the differences between your market and the targeted market are, the more consistent the effort must be to understand those differences, build a relevant unique selling proposition and adapt your product to address the specificity.

Before hitting the D'oh captain obvious button, take a moment to remember how Kelogg tried to sell cereals [and the whole idea of a cold breakfast] to India, a country where people would typically start their day with a bowl of hot vegetables.

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