The Importance of Researching Local Culture Before Business Expansion

Digital innovations have changed the way businesses operate. Where once a company might remain in the one location with the same target customer base, technological advances have created room for expansion overseas.

As more and more businesses see the opportunities that having an online offering can bring, it is becoming increasingly common for companies to extend their reach. However, when it comes to growing internationally, certain sectors are already making significant progress

For instance, the UK’s digital tech exports were valued at £23.3bn in 2019 and include software services and e-commerce among other assets. Meanwhile, retail behemoth Amazon tripled its profits in the third quarter of 2020, seeing a 37% boost in earnings and highlighting how the world has turned to online shopping in the last year.

But while tech products and retail are making waves overseas, there’s plenty of scope for businesses operating in other sectors. To be successful, it is vital that extensive market research is carried out. This should be the first step in any international expansion effort.

If you’re considering launching your business in a different country, there are certain things you’ll need to look into before you take the leap.

Think about market research

How you approach researching your target country will be different to other research you’ve done to date. This is because when you expand beyond the UK, you are heading into a country that you may be initially unfamiliar with.

To market your services effectively, you’ll first need to consider the country you’re targeting. Is it a place you’re already familiar with or will you need to expand your education about the country? Even if you think you understand how things operate there, you’ll still need to make sure you are fully up to speed on everything from business legislation to taxes in the region. You’ll also need to know how much appetite there is for the product you sell.

Perhaps most importantly, you will need to understand the culture within your target country. This will form the basis of how you do business there.  

Look at the culture

To have an effective business operating in a country outside of the UK, it’s important to understand the people and the environment. Look at the local culture and note any differences between it and your own.

What are the religious systems in place? What educational and social systems operate there? Are there any things that we do in the UK that aren’t seen as respectful or the norm in your target country?

Learning about both the large and small things can be crucial when it comes to marketing your business there. If you have a solid brand but your marketing campaign isn’t tuned in to how the country ticks, you could find you fall at the first hurdle.

Adapting to the language

It’s important to note that culture is distinctive from language. While language is part of the country’s culture, the two aren’t the same thing.

Once you have got a handle on the culture, you’ll need to focus on the language used. Translation software is often unreliable and can even potentially be damaging for your brand before you’ve even properly launched into a new market.

Overcome this issue by leveraging the skills and experience of native speakers of your desired target country to help cross linguistic and cultural barriers. You could establish a local team in your target country early on in your operation. This can help you do further research ahead of your launch and reduce the risk of crossed wires.

Additionally, form an international SEO outreach strategy. This marketing approach can give you access to native speakers who will help with the nuances spoken in that language. Speak to an experienced international SEO agency to make sure you have access to a team that can help your business realise its potential in your chosen target country.

By using tactics that incorporates native speakers, you’ll find the team can explain where some marketing messages might work well and where they might not strike the right note. This is because they have first-hand knowledge of the culture in that location and can explain how some ideas might not translate well.

SEO overseas

If your business has been established online for a while, it’s likely that you will have your SEO set up perfectly for your UK base. However, you will need to make changes to suit the target markets in other countries.

Getting the SEO right means you’re more likely to attract customers. Therefore, it’s important to know that the things that people are searching for in one country can sometimes be different in another. For instance, things that are trending on Google in the UK are different to those that are trending in Japan. This will be because of a number of reasons, but the local culture will play a large role in this.

To tackle this, research topics that work in your target country that suit your business offering and showcase your website in a way that makes it easy to see what your business offers. Again, an established international SEO agency may be able to help with this.

If you have your sights set on a new market overseas, take the time to understand the culture before you jump in. Do your research and speak to the experts before you launch.