I love a big hotel breakfast buffet. The spread is amazing, and while I'm tucking into my fruit and porridge I watch people eat not just the full English but noodles, curry or dried fish and rice. It's just normal to them, it’s what they do every morning – but it’s a great wakeup call to remind me that norms can be fundamentally different in a new market.
I used to live in the Netherlands and worked on Kelloggs in Brussels developing their cereal campaigns across Benelux: three small countries that look very similar on paper, have 2% of Scotland’s land area and a combined population of less than half that of the UK. I woke up in the land of breakfast cheese, bike commuters, and a lot of handshakes; cycled to the station and caught a train to Brussels, where they mostly ate cereal or chocolate for breakfast, drove to work in company cars and exchanged kisses with everyone in the office when they got there. Despite crossovers of language and culture between the two, there were still huge variations.
Of course, to market effectively in a new geography you don’t just need a great product – you need to set aside assumptions, have ears on the ground and begin from the right insight or pain point that's important to your buyer audiences. It can be easy to lose sight of this but we’ve found it's essential to understand these as well as differences in attitude, buying cycles, culture and decision making … even what food and drink to serve (and when) at that trade show!
For example, both attitudes and wealth within Belgium vary a lot between the Francophone Belgians and the Flemish speakers. I also thought New Zealand and Australia were near-identical markets but when I moved from one to the other I found it wasn’t always true: there are huge differences in attitudes, for example towards indigenous populations or gender equality.
So launching well in a new market needs local knowledge, but none of us have unlimited budgets or time, and commissioning full research or setting up a satellite office to find out what will work and implement it is a huge investment.
At KISS we solve this for clients by being one of only four UK members of the PROI. It’s a global partnership of around 75 independent agencies established in 1970; a community of carefully vetted and like-minded agencies spanning over 100 cities in five continents.
We help each other out and we’re used to working together – but only when there’s a need, no hefty retainers here. This is brilliant for us and our clients as it means we deliver using trusted people who live and work in other markets. Recently that's included work in sub-Saharan Africa, the US, China, Germany and India on topics from education to pharmaceuticals to DIY. It might be a quick phone call to a PROI partner in Athens or Zagreb to check current news trends, a quick bit of competitor research in your target area or a full project with a partner, such as our recent launch of a drug for a pharmaceutical brand in the US.
Our partnership also means all the channels are there for a company based outside the UK to work with us, either led by us or through a local partner who speaks your language, in over 50 countries. Our team have also enjoyed some excellent two-week work placements – our developer Baz went to work in Atlanta, Victoria to Berlin and Anthea has just returned from Mumbai.
So we’d really recommend this as a way of working – if you’d like to know more about our international links or discuss a cross-border opportunity (and the best place for breakfast in Mumbai), then get in touch!