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How Exporters Build Brands

By: Greg Seminara, Export Solutions

1. World Cuisine
Foreign travel and exposure to world cuisine has sparked an appreciation of  food and confectionery products from around the globe. Today's consumers enjoy diverse food choices as they plan their weekly menus. Asians may consider American or UK brands as ethnic food, just as we consider Thai or Mexican cuisine as "international". Successful exporters focus on traditional products and favorite brands  from their home country that may be considered to unique to citizens of other nations.
What is your products USP ( unique selling proposition)?

2. Visit Each Country
Export managers should visit each country at least once. It's easy to capture the pulse of a market by visiting stores and meeting with  distributor candidates. Winning requires the combination of your brand and category expertise  matched with your distributors mastery of local industry practices.

3. Complete Homework
Veteran exporters complete fundamental research on category conditions prior to market entry. This includes size of the category, competing brands, pricing, and merchandising standards. Careful consideration should be applied to what added value your brand contributes to the existing category dynamics in a new market.

4. Choose the Right Distributor
Selecting the right partner is the third most critical success factor after creating a meaningful USP and commitment to invest in brand building activities. Finding the distributor that is a right fit is a difficult task.  Most brands prefer to align with a category specialist (i.e confectionery distributor) or a distributor that specializes in brands from your home country. In every case, look for a distributor that is passionate about your brand and offers sufficient scale to achieve your business objectives.

5. Crawl,Walk, Run
Export is not easy and new business development always takes longer than the optimistic dates we place in our timeline. Start with listings at upscale supermarkets and global retailers. Create a success story at a few high profile retailers versus trying to sell to all accounts during year one.

6.Results: Proportional to your Investment
Every country maintains a universal requirement to invest in consumer and trade marketing activities.
How much does it cost to secure shelf presence and merchandising support at the leading
supermarket chain in your home country ? Why should it be any less expensive to enter a foreign country where your brand is unknown ? Your investment level signals to distributors and retailers your commitment to the market.

7. Premium Pricing
International brands  may command as much as a fifty percent price premium versus local products. Savvy consumers recognize high quality, foreign products and are willing to pay a slight premium. Super premium pricing rarely works, as families hesitate to try a new brand that costs one hundred percent more than other category options.

8. Guerilla Marketing Activities
Successful distributors are magicians at creating brilliant programs with minimal investment.
Export managers challenge their partners to develop "outside the box" programs to build brands.
The concept is to establish a culture that rewards innovative, promotional activity.

9. Leverage Government & Trade Support Organizations
Exports mean jobs and most American and European countries have established valuable programs and resources to facilitate exports. Many activities are free or are available at a substantial discount. For example, in the Confectionery sector, the National Confectionery Association( USA), German Sweets, and ABICAB(Sweet Brazil), all provide excellent resources for new and experienced exporters.

10. Get your Distributors to Love Your Brand
Experienced Exporters are multi-taskers, able to juggle many priorities with far fewer resources than multinationals. An essential skill is to inspire a network of foreign distributors to fall in love with your brand.This requires you to earn your position as a preferred supplier by serving as a responsive partner that supports your brand with product innovation and marketing investments. Distributors will work harder for people that recognize their efforts and are fun to be around.