How to launch into a new market

29 Oct 2020

With closed borders, disrupted supply chains and local restrictions, launching into new markets has never been more difficult. However, the opportunity to expand and connect with new audiences is still there – even during a crisis.

Our latest masterclass saw a panel of experts share advice from their experiences of expansion. They included Marie Petrovicka, VP International at Depop; Barry Bracken, Media & Communications at VanMoof; and Laura Kilberg, Independent Consultant, previously at AWAY & Birchbox. Read on for their advice:

Consider the practicalities

Whether you’re planning on launching locally or branching out overseas, it’s crucial to assess demand for your brand to ensure success. Marie revealed that this is something even big brands like Depop consider: “We need to understand what would make us successful in the market. What are some of the barriers to entry? Will there be a language barrier?” In a COVID era, it’s also important to research local restrictions that may affect your launch.

As an ex-consultant for Birchbox, Laura noted the importance of nailing down logistics early on and balancing it with customer experience. “Getting your products to people is often a trade-off with your customer experience – there might be taxes and duties you might not have built into your margins. Once you have a defined customer base, then you can decide where you want your logistics provider to sit and how you can customise that experience.”

Hire the right team

Behind every successful launch is a combination of core and local staff. Marie shared how important it is to have these local experts: “When we go into a new market we are engaging with specific communities and cultures, so we need someone who has a local understanding of the media and consumer landscape.”

Barry echoed the importance of a reliable team: “You need community-driven advocates for your brand that are well trained and enthusiastic. It sounds basic, but it’s really important. When we launched pop-ups across Europe, we found that when there were experienced staff in-store, this really helped with conversions. Their brand knowledge puts the customer at ease.”

Build a community

It’s said that the most effective form of marketing is word of mouth. Therefore, it’s no wonder why many brands have cultivated communities before launching into new markets. Laura noted social media as a great place to start, especially during COVID. “You can really start to develop a global community online – it’s an exercise you can use to enter a market quickly.” Marie also cited one-to-one relationship building as key to building a community. “We look at the three pillars: users, influencers and brands. At the start, it’s all about outreach. We’ll go and find the right events and moments to go to introduce ourselves.”

Connect IRL

One effective way to engage with a new market is through having a physical presence. Barry had seen first-hand how useful pop-ups were for Vanmoof’s European expansion. “People like to make a physical inspection of our product before they purchase – a lot of sales wouldn’t have taken place without that new presence. If a pop-up is successful, we open a permanent location in that proven market and use more pop-ups to test out possible new ones.” Marie agreed: “It brings your brand credibility if you appear physically. Especially if you find ways to bring the community together inside the space.”