5 Steps to Understand Your Customers in a Global Market

For an expanding international business, it is imperative to face customers overseas. But before you take the continental leap, it is vital for you to understand your target audience. Thus, “Localization” becomes the primary key.

The very first thing you would probably think of for localization is hiring a local. A local on the ground can definitely help you know your customers better but might not be affordable, especially if you are a start-up or a smaller company. So, what can business owners do in such a situation? Fortunately, there is a way. If you have the right information, you can easily understand the requirements of your global customer base.

Here are the most important steps to help businesses understand their Customers in the Foreign Market:

1. Study the Geographical Area

It is important for businesses to analyze and understand everything about the region they are targeting. Having sufficient information about your customers and country is vital to growing overseas. Do your homework and conduct a PEST analysis of the region you are penetrating into. Study the Political, Economic, Social, and Technical standpoints of the new market well before you enter.

2. Know About the Cultural Differences

Every country has its own culture that defines the perception and preferences of its natives. To be successful in a country, you need to understand that country first. This implies more especially to its people, its culture, and its law.  Cultural nuances can significantly impact your business operations, so ensure you familiarize yourself with the local culture. The product or service you are launching should be in sync with the local culture. Only then your target customers will find your product or service relatable. “One size fits all” is a big NO when it comes to the international customer base.

For Example, a famous company, Pepsodent, overlooked the cultural effect and marketed its toothpaste in South East Asia with a promise of turning teeth white. This didn’t go well with its audience and failed to resonate with their expectations. In South East Asia, having black teeth are considered a status symbol. In fact, people chew betel in an attempt to blacken their teeth.

Thus, try gathering as much information as possible about your customers. There is a lot of information available on the internet. Try to go through the history, preferences, and likings of the people there. You will get enough useful information that can help you infer generalizations at the least, if not specifications.

3. Understand the Local Language

Apart from the regional and cultural differences, another factor that can have a make-or-break impact on a business is the linguistic effect. A business needs to understand the local language of its customers in order to avoid any linguistic disaster. To the least, business owners should analyze their brand name, its meaning, and its pronunciation in the local market. At times the same spelling can mean different in different countries, which can change the entire essence of the brand.

For Example, HSBC Bank’s “Assume Nothing” tagline didn’t go well with most of the countries where it was deemed to convey the message “Do Nothing.” The bank finally had to rebrand its global operations and change the tagline to “the World’s Private Bank.” This change cost the bank a whopping $10 million.

4. Follow what is Tending Locally and Modify as per Requirement:

Take a survey of the target customer groups by offering samples of your product. Doing a pilot survey gives enough idea if the target customers like the product as it is or if they want any alteration to it. You may need to change your packaging, distribution channel, etc. according to the preference of your sample audience. Simple changes in the marketing plan can be made on the basis of customer analysis.

5. Payment Method:

When going global, you may also try to find out the payment preference of your audience. Which international payment option would your target customers like to have, how would they like to pay, etc? You would then have to decide on a trusted online foreign exchange service accordingly. Providing the customers with an opportunity to pay in local currency helps in increasing the customer base.

Thus, by following the above steps and taking out the proper time to gather information about their customers, a business can sustain itself for growth in a foreign land.