In the next few weeks, Pendleton will be making some big announcements about expanding our enterprise into India, the USA and beyond - working both internationally and through established local partners. Like many businesses, Covid-19 has made us revaluate what we need to be and do. For us, this means continuing to grow rapidly and sustainably, yet ultimately ensuring we achieve our Vision for a global wave of guaranteed business growth, driven by clarity, honesty, and true partnership.
With that in mind, this week we have been looking carefully at some of the mistake’s businesses have made when "going global". Here are two that struck a particular chord...
Our first story comes from Pepsi, who were operating in at least ten countries before their expansion into China in 1963. Despite their huge marketing team and experience, they made an epic blunder, when their US slogan of the time, “Pepsi brings you back to life”, was mistranslated to “Pepsi brings you back from the grave”. In a country which holds ancestors in the highest esteem, this simple mistake cost millions to correct and almost proved commercially fatal. It shows why proper local expertise and local partnerships can be vital. Offending your new consumer base can cause permanent damage, and huge opportunities you just don't see, can be missed.
It is clearly naive to assume what works for your home market will automatically translate everywhere. Good business principles may remain the same, but different cultures vary, and this affects the decisions consumers make. The entire ecosystem in which the business will operate needs to be assessed, looking at local traditions and how the local economy affects behaviours, spend and expectations.
Perhaps the most noteworthy example of missed opportunities and poor analytics in recent years, came from e-commerce giant eBay; a company who had almost flawlessly dominated in so many other countries. Their expansion to China (which seems to be the hardest nut to crack) came with serious misjudgements. Local rival Taobao, responded and adapted to the newfound competition with eBay, by quickly developing and launching new service features. eBay sat back and continued to run it's "one size fits all" business model. This made eBay look like a step backwards to local consumers, who had less international brand or reputational awareness than eBay assumed. The Chinese therefore stayed largely loyal to local Taobao, proving that, despite overwhelming success elsewhere, businesses always need to learn and adapt to new markets responsively!
We'll certainly be thinking hard about these examples and more, as we iron out the details of our overseas launches! Watch this space.
If you would like to open the conversation, and get more detailed or specific advice from us on how to develop your business, please get in touch using our contact details below. We are ready to help!
Robbie Duncanson and the Pendleton team!