Researching International Markets

When I began my position at Secu-ring as a Market Research Intern, I anticipated typing different keywords into Google and comparing competitors within Germany, the UK, and USA. I had no prior international experience, and all of the marketing internships I had were influenced primarily by the state in which they were located. Over the past six weeks, I have learned the difficulties companies face when attempting to not only entering a market larger than one state, but entering a global market as well.

The first problem I ran into is that when you are based in one country, your search engine refers you to different results than what it would in another country. In the United States, if I type, for example, “Womens clothing”, different results appear than what do when completing that same search in Germany. The markets for that particular product vary by location, therefore, the search engine optimization kicks in to provide you with the most useful results. I spent several hours looking into this issue and came to the conclusion I either had to trick my browser that I was in different area than what my location insinuated, or I had to manipulate my search. While the first option was doable, it was difficult, and took awhile to prepare. Doing option two however, was found to be more ideal with the time constraints I faced and various projects at hand. I started typing more details into my search such as “Womens clothing USA” which helped improve my search and provide more accurate results.

The second problem I ran into was the language barrier, which I somewhat anticipated. When dealing with international markets, many companies have their websites formatted in the language that is most popular in their country. Most websites do have an English version, especially if they have a strong presence in the global market. However, there are many that I came across that were not translated. I found it most helpful when this happened to take my search back one step and do secondary research on the company rather than primary research and these search results were (usually) available in English. An issue companies often face is an effective translation on their websites as well. When translating their sites, many had original sayings in their language that did not have a translation that portrayed the message as strong as in the original language. When entering a global market, I would recommend any company to hire a language specialist who can most effectively translate their sites to ensure that all regions are understanding the products and services, and that the company is appearing competitive in the market they are entering. A potential consumer could be quickly turned away if they are not able to interpret the site or if it is not professionally phrased.

The final issue that I ran into that I believe to be the largest scale problem in the industry is the different expectations of products and services across markets. Different (target) markets have different perceptions of products and services, as well as the features they offer. I noticed with the United States, they have a much more hands-on approach, explain details more thoroughly, and provide a lot more guidance to understand their website. In Germany however, the websites are a lot more to the point and have more simple navigation features and not as many details. There are pros and cons to each, but it is something to keep in mind when entering various markets. Not every market has the same expectations, and it is important that you tailor to each market individually. It also becomes very difficult to compare international markets as it comes down to who the target market is and what their expectations are for products and services.

To conclude, when a company is considering expanding globally, keep in mind the target market and their expectations. Be sure to have language features on the landing page so that international consumers are able to easily navigate, ensure the search engine optimization is leading the correct consumers to your site, and tailor to the target market as much as possible!

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