There are many reasons brands look to expand globally. New potential customers—and sources of revenue—are high on the list, but there are many other benefits.

Expanding into new markets gives brands a bigger footprint, which makes it easier to fulfill orders—even in markets where they don’t have a physical presence.

It can also potentially diversify your product offering and give you an edge over competitors.

Executing global expansion is not nearly so clear-cut. SoPost is an online sampling platform headquartered in Newcastle. Here’s what we’ve learned so far about how to scale your brand abroad:

Identify the Right Markets

It all starts with zeroing in on the right markets for your brand.

SoPost launched in the U.K. in 2012 and expanded into the U.S. two years later. This was in part because it is a large market with lots of opportunities, but has the benefit of being similar to our home market, making it familiar ground.

More recently, SoPost has expanded into France and Germany as well.

We chose these markets given the number of beauty brands in France, as well as the size of the beauty market in Germany, which is valued at €14 billion.

The takeaway: You want to identify high-quality markets to set yourself up for success as you expand, so look for countries with a similar cultural fit and/or major opportunities for growth.

Pay Attention to Politics

It’s also wise to pay attention to the political climate in new potential markets when deciding where to grow next.

For example, France passed a climate bill in July 2021 that could potentially lead to restrictions on sampling to empower brands to be more sustainable. That means brands may soon have to obtain explicit consent from French consumers before distributing samples there.

SoPost’s technology can help brands overcome this challenge, which is another reason the market was so appealing to us.

The takeaway: Lean into your core strengths to help you appeal to new markets.

Monitor Consumer Sentiment

In a similar vein, you shouldn’t enter a new market blindly. Instead, take the temperature of consumers on the ground so you know how they act and feel before you take the plunge.

That’s another reason France made so much sense for SoPost. French consumers have become much more aware of their environmental impact in recent years and are demanding brands eliminate wasteful practices like spray-and-pray sampling. This underscores the opportunity we saw in this new market.

The takeaway: Put your ear to the ground first to determine if there is a receptive audience in new markets.

Test the New Market Before Committing

Before you go all in on a new market, it’s wise to test the waters to see if your plan really is viable. Meet with prospective clients to gauge interest in your products or services and get at least a few contracts signed before committing to the market with hires and office space.

The takeaway: A slow, measured approach helps set you up for future success.

Hire the Right People

It’s important to remember no one knows these markets like locals. That’s why it’s vital to make the right hires to ensure you have leaders who can help navigate this new terrain for your brand.

We’ve made two new hires in recent months: Hélène Tournesac as Partnerships Director in France and Magali Kirsch as Partnerships Director in DACH, which includes Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Tournesac has experience in both luxury and cosmetics, including roles at Havas Media and Beamly which makes her the perfect fit to grow our team in France.

Similarly, Kirsch is a 15-year marketing veteran from L’Oréal who also founded an interactive online beauty community, We Love Beauty. We look forward to collaborating with both to expand further into Europe.

The takeaway: Local talent is a must-have to execute global expansion.

Apply Key Learnings in New Markets

Once you begin expanding in new markets, you may find key learnings in one part of the world can help connect with consumers in other markets.

In the U.S., for example, we’ve found brands are eager to integrate technology like augmented reality and virtual shopping experiences to enhance their sampling efforts. This is an insight we can take to similar markets to stay ahead of the curve.

On the other hand, you may discover unmet needs in new potential markets. These could require you to adapt your offering, to do things like better serve a wider range of customers or channels. Eventually, however, this too may help you serve customers in new markets down the line.

The takeaway: Brands must continue to adapt if they want to continue to grow.


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