Greg Seminara, Export Solutions

International brands find a natural audience overseas with homesick expatriates missing their favorite Oreo cookies, PG Tips tea or Kuchenmeister cakes. “Ethnic” favorites must move beyond their base business as a niche American, Italian, or German product into the mainstream to achieve ambitious growth targets. Adoption as a local brand rewards the manufacturer with dramatically higher sales. My Irish wife swore that American icons such as Heinz and Kellogg’s were British brands because their labels stated by “appointment to her majesty the queen.” It was probably the one time in our marriage when I was actually right . Listed below are my Ten Tips for Making a Global Brand a local “hero”.

1. Manufacture in Country
Pride is generated when a brand is produced locally. The factory employs people from the neighborhood and spends money in the community. It may be costly to open a dedicated plant, but co-packing is usually an option. This approach may also generate cost savings through the elimination of duties and overseas freight.

2. Label in Local Language
Frequently a manufacturer cuts corners  by placing a sticker on a package or other minor fine tuning to comply with labeling laws. Producing your brand with local labeling sends a powerful message to the trade and consumer about your interest in their business. Warning! Display care with translations to avoid embarrassing mistakes. Google “Nova Spanish” if you need an example.

3. Promote Recipes Using your Brand
A food scientist or market research company could study local food preferences and your product portfolio. Are their options to incorporate your brand into traditional recipes ? Nutella is finally gaining important traction in the USA as a breakfast spread, after years as a niche item buried on the shelf.

4. Create an Anniversary Event

Many brands have been available in foreign markets for 10,20, 30 years or more. Why not design an anniversary event commemorating “25 years in the ______ Market”.  Elements could include special packages, consumer contest, public relations, charitable donations, and a celebratory dinner for your retail customers.

5. Sponsor a Sports Team

Fans everywhere love their teams. Alignment and support of a local sports team yields dividends. A starting place may be sponsorship of youth leagues versus budget busting football deals.

6. Core Brand -Market Specific Line Extension
Consider adapting your core product line to meet local flavor preferences.
Pringles built exceptional sales and excitement by launching innovative new flavors such as Jalapeno, Curry, Grilled Shrimp, Ketchup, and Pizza.

7. Co- Promotion or Co-Branding with Local Leader
Partner with a traditional local brand that has a long history in the market. For example, an international cereal brand could align with a local milk producer. Similarly, an international jam or marmalade brand might consider a joint event with a leading bread company. Co- branding is also a possibility, but reflects a long term commitment. For example, Post cereals markets a version of their famous Raisin Bran cereal which includes authentic Sun-Maid raisins.

8. Sponsor a Charity Event
There are many worthy organizations looking for financial support for their programs.
Normally, there are chances to gain visibility for your brand with sponsorship of an event .
Pick a group that contains a meaningful  link to your product or target consumer. Many supermarket chains have a favorite charity providing a route to collaborate with a trading partner for a worthwhile cause.

9. Billboards and Radio viewed as local Media
Advertising or public relations agencies are experts at creating campaigns to build brand equity.
Billboards and Radio offer local execution and adaptation possibilities.

10. Brainstorm with your Distributor
Distributors are local marketing experts with a rich understanding of market and consumer dynamics in their country. Schedule an “off site” meeting in a peaceful location to brainstorm ideas for raising your brands profile with local consumers. This approach secures distributor participation and ownership of the program.
The evolution of an international brand from niche curiosity to local favorite requires time, energy, and investment. However, each activity will bring a step change in terms of local brand acceptance and sales. What can you do differently in 2016 to increase your brands local profile in export markets ?