More and more, companies are extending their reach into foreign markets. Although market expansion has become more common in recent years, these business endeavors are often short-lived. What’s to blame? In a nutshell, it’s companies undervaluing the importance of embracing local preferences and culture.

Successfully marketing a foreign company in a domestic market is no easy feat, but it’s achievable by incorporating these four strategies into your plan.

Data, Data, Data

Developing an entry strategy requires specialized research. Your leadership team should rely on data—not speculation—when considering the opportunities your target market provides (or doesn’t). Look to data to answer questions like: How easy it will be to do business in this country? Is there a market need for my product or service? What are my target customers motivated by? Reviewing the market research for your product, industry, and audience—all within the context of your target market—will give you a clear picture of if and how you can succeed there.


Customizing your strategy to foreign market behaviors takes time to master but can make or break your company’s market expansion. Determine to what degree factors like price, quality, and convenience drive your target market’s behaviors. Adapting to the priorities of your market will help you find effective ways to reach them.

If consumers in one country expect two-day shipping, you need to anticipate that. If consumers in another country expect to build a trusting relationship with your sales team in person, you need to anticipate that, too. Localization doesn’t mean bringing your product or service to a new market. It means reworking branding imagery, customizing marketing materials, accounting for translation variance, and gaining a full understanding of the market.

Different markets favor different approaches. Because of unique cultural preferences and expectations, anticipate that where your costs lay will differ by market. For example, Medium reports that companies operating in the US spend an aggregate $190 billion a year in advertising, or an average $594 per capita. By comparison, in a highly industrialized and advanced country like Germany, average per capita advertising spend is much lower, at $347 per year. Investing in what the market demands is an investment in your company’s expansion success.

Culture & Language Adaptation

Respecting cultural practices and celebrating local customs should be a focus when entering a new market. Mastering the language and colloquialisms allows you to literally and figuratively “speak” your customers’ language. Consumers will not trust you if you’ve chosen the wrong tense when addressing them, so why would they trust you with their money? Moreover, you must “live where your audience lives” to reach them. One market may prefer Facebook, demanding your advertising dollars be spent there. Another market may prefer Twitter—and you must be the one to adjust.

Support & Channel Adaptation

Establishing local support and choosing the correct channels is critical for new market success, too.

Customers expect you to provide a reliable resource to address concerns, whether it be a customer service line or online forum. Making sure this support looks and feels familiar and reliable to your market is key to establishing trust.

Choosing the right channel to sell your product or service on is crucial as well. Consulting local market experts will help your company make informed decisions here. Setting up a local team to lead the way allows the people who know the country, the market, and your international business goals to pursue the avenues that are in your best interest. These groups of experts can help you learn that if you’re selling electronics in the US, you should get on Amazon, but if you’re selling them in China, you should get on Alibaba. And if you’re selling artisanal soaps in either country, you should pursue placement in local boutiques.

Taking these steps will signal to your target customers that you understand their customs and preferences and have taken the time to adapt to them. Not sure how to get started? The Moak Group is here to help with all of your marketing needs.

Ellen Huber