How to Expand Your Brand’s International Reach

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Let’s say you’ve succeeded in conquering your local market. You’ve increased your revenue, diversified your market, and enlarged your scale, and now the whole world is your brand’s oyster. Or maybe not? The international market is a bigger pond for most Singaporean brands, and it might be difficult to leap into without preparation. Today we’re going to talk about how to spread your international brand expansion; including what you should look out for. 

There are a lot of things to consider when branching out from your local market. You’ll need to figure out roadmap planning, production, and shipping costs, just a few of the things our team at Shirtual covers for brand owners. Before you head into the nitty-gritty, though, you’ll want to figure out some of the broad strokes. Think of the following:

  1. Finding your target market

Similarly to local market research, the first thing you’ll want to determine is your target market in international waters. Simple, right? Well, that depends entirely on how different the culture you’re targeting is. 

If you own a clothing brand specialized in experimental, revealing summer wear, the audience for that market may shrink or grow depending on the market. Of course, you wouldn’t want to center your products around winter-struck countries, but it may also have a limited market in conservative summer countries like Indonesia. 

international brand

Furthermore, while globalization has made many youth cultures share similar values and tastes, the subtleties of their taste may vary greatly. Think of the differences between Vogue magazine’s worldwide branding. Just comparing something as simple as the sleek, conservative elegance of Vogue Singapore’s covers to the bolder, more challenging imagery of Vogue America’s gives you the sense that these cater to vastly different audiences.

Appreciating the differences in your new target market is the first step to really head into international waters. The second step, of course, is changing your approach based on that.

2. Adapting to the market culture

woman shopping for branded bag

There are a number of different ways to go about your international brand expansion. Once you understand what your target market is, it becomes a matter of letting them know of your presence and bringing them in. These are some ways you can consider while going about it:

  • Contact local influencers: Most countries have their own dedicated ecosystem of social media gurus and influencers from all sorts of fashion and merch niches. Over 72% of young people follow their own sets of influencers, and their collaborations generate an exceeding amount of hype for products. A side bonus to consider is that these influencers often have great ideas on how to tap into the local market, giving you some more leads on where you can go next.
  • Customize your offerings: Whether this is a simple cosmetic change like selling unique patterns or styles, or a more practical change like changing the sizing cuts based on the country’s average sizes, customizing your offerings goes a long way. You want to be seen as being as natural to the new culture as possible, and that often means some changes in product are in order.
  • Hiring a dedicated team: Once you’re more rooted in a specific international market, it would be more worthwhile to hire a team of marketers, distributors, and managers from that country. These specialists will know the ins and outs of the country and culture, and they’ll be able to handle the trickier parts of adapting to the market more than you. 

3. Understanding cultural competition

When you dive into a new market, you’ll find other local brands thriving in your lane. Taking these brands into consideration is essential since they’re the indicators of the culture’s taste and sensibilities.

If you’re expanding your brand of youth merchandise to Thailand, for example, what are your competitor’s products like? How do they market themselves? What is their appeal to the culture there? A quick glance at Thai fashion labels and brands tells you that their products are airy and cool for the summer, and they have a wide range of strategies to approach their target audience.

You can also learn a lot from outside competitors and their successes or mistakes. What types of businesses have tried penetrating your target culture’s markets and failed? What types managed to succeed, and why? 

Remember: you’re not the only fish in the pond. While you may not be the biggest, you can still learn how to thrive from the way other fish swim.

4. Building cross-cultural partnerships

branding managing

Now that you’ve built a solid strategy for your international brand expansion, you’ll want to start rolling out your product. But how? Where can you gain the footing?

Ultimately, you’re an outsider in the inner world of your target market, which means you’ll want an insider to guide you in. The previously mentioned influencer collaboration is a good place to start, but what you really need is professional industry contacts. 

This might mean distributors, suppliers, industry contacts, lawyers, and everything from manufacturing to logistics. The size of the operation depends on your progress and the product’s costs, but it’s always worthwhile to take things step by step. 

You can find partners from all sorts of places. Industry highlights and events like trade shows, fashion showcases, and public markets are a good place to start, and all great business partnerships start with a sense of camaraderie. Just make sure to do your research before building partnerships too.

5. Bringing your creations to the international stage

brand across the world

The final detail in finally executing your international brand expansion is figuring out the distribution. This can be very difficult in the beginning, even with the right collaborations and partnerships. There’s a lot of legal paperwork to complete, tax declarations to settle, and customs laws to clear.

At this stage, it’s best to rely on your partners to guide you through the process. You can also work together with companies that specialize in manufacturing and distribution to these markets. 

Normally, you’d have to go through multiple partnerships to handle a larger chain, but our Shirtual brand services provide a one-stop solution to all your merchandising troubles. We handle large-scale productions with the highest quality materials, and we can store and package an unlimited amount of items at your disposal. 

Better yet, our team is specially equipped to handle all the legal documents required for distribution. Ultimately, we want you to be able to prioritize brand and marketing growth, just like more than 80% of our customers. 


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