The government is keen for businesses, particularly SMEs, to export goods as the UK readies to leave the EU, so what are the challenges and what role should marketing play?
The Government remains in turmoil over its strategy for negotiating the UK’s exit from the European Union, yet with Brexit’s fixed date of 29 March 2019 rapidly approaching, marketers in businesses large and small need to turn their attention to markets outside Europe. Becoming an exporting business, whether the company is large or small, is theoretically easier now than it has ever been. From innovations in cross-border payments to a wide variety of fulfilment options, customers and brands can access each other with relative ease.
It would seem that the majority of SMEs are taking the bull by the horns and proceeding with business as usual, whatever the future brings. The CIM produced a report in May, which finds 70% of SMEs already exporting goods expect to increase exports over the next three years, while just 4% are forecasting a decline.
Three-quarters of marketers believe their business has the skills to sell its goods in new markets, but just a third have an export strategy. This suggests that while many businesses are ready to start exporting, fewer know how to go about it.
Although the fundamental ‘Britishness’ of brands has been part of their export charm in the past, successful marketing of exports depends on addressing the needs of the individual target markets. Regarding alcohol, many of those needs are driven by regulation. Tailoring to local markets is not just necessary from a regulatory standpoint, it can be used as a brand marketing advantage. In Sweden and Canada, for example, restrictions on advertising the brand has shifted focus to product and packaging.
In Sweden, the product goes through a selection panel and is trialled in some bars. In Canada, the same panel system applies with advisories on packaging formats, in a country where 95% of beer is packaged in cans.
Monty Bojangles found that its ‘Curiously Moreish’ strapline didn’t work in the US as Americans simply did not understand it. It can be daunting enough to enter new markets with a strong domestic brand but having to rearrange some foundational brand assets can be challenging, especially for fledgling brands looking to establish their identity. Baby snack brand Kiddylicious, for example, discovered in South Africa that human features cannot be used on the front of packaging, but eyes are a key part of the Kiddylicious brand identity, which has been a challenge for the brand.
Marketing director Dee Bulsara, adds: “Formulations can also change. In the UK, we must have (Vitamin B1) in cereals but in China it’s banned.”Fortunately for the business, Chinese brands are particularly receptive to foreign businesses. “Because of the baby milk and food scare a few years ago, they don’t like to buy Chinese baby brands. They trust western ones. We have taken hold of that opportunity and seen great sales growth. It’s currently our second biggest international market.”
Social media holds a great deal of sway for exporters, particularly in the B2B market, according to Rowan Crozier, CEO of precision components manufacturer Brandauer. “LinkedIn has made a phenomenal difference to the business in the past six months. If I message someone on LinkedIn, they come right back to me. We have also done a lot of strategic marketing via the platform, with blogging, press releases, case studies and market challenges. It’s been huge for supporting regularity of communication,” he says.
Despite the doom-mongering headlines, brands do not seem particularly perturbed by Brexit. Make sure that you get the facts on how to maintain your ROI post Brexit and give us a call if you have any questions!