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Expanding into the EU market is a bold move but with a proactive and well-executed entry strategy, you’ve got every chance of success. For UK manufacturers, knowing the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of this process can set the stage. An effective entry strategy not only mitigates risks associated with international expansion but also optimises resource allocation, ensuring investments are made where they can yield the highest return. Our strategic approach enables faster market penetration, enhances competitiveness by clearly differentiating products from those of competitors, and lays the groundwork for sustainable long-term growth. Let’s start with your market entry model.

Selecting your EU Market Entry Model

Despite economic challenges, there’s a notable shift towards optimism among UK manufacturers. The survey highlights that more than half of the manufacturers are gearing up to launch new products, and a significant portion is considering expanding into new, previously untapped markets. This readiness is underpinned by a strategic alignment with digital transformation and a push towards sustainability, which are seen as critical enabler for future growth.

1. Direct Exporting

Direct exporting is often seen as the straightforward initial strategy for entering the EU market. It involves selling products directly to distributors, retailers, or customers in your chosen EU market. This approach allows manufacturers to maintain significant control over their products and brand while managing costs effectively. The primary advantage is the ability to test market receptivity with a lower financial commitment. However, it does rely heavily on local distributors, which can diminish control over the final customer experience and complicate logistics and compliance management.

Investment and Risk Insight: Low to moderate investment required, offering high control over branding with moderate risk due to potential logistical complexities and distributor dependencies.

2. Setting Up a Subsidiary

Establishing a subsidiary offers the most control by allowing UK manufacturers to have a physical presence and direct interaction with the market. It involves creating a distinct legal entity under your parent company and means hiring local staff. This strategy supports a deep understanding of local consumer behaviours and competitive dynamics, facilitating tailored marketing and product development. The downside is the significant initial and operational investment required, along with the complexity of managing local business regulations.

Investment and Risk Insight: High investment with high control, accompanied by significant financial risk, particularly if the market doesn’t respond as expected.

Manufacturing Subsidiary as a EU Market Entry Strategy

3. Using Resellers or Agents

Partnering with resellers or agents provides a balance of market entry speed and cost efficiency. It involves partnering with local businesses or individuals who sell your products to the end customer on your behalf. Resellers or agents, with their existing networks and market knowledge, can accelerate market penetration. The trade-off here includes less control over how products are marketed and sold and poses potential conflicts arising from misaligned objectives.

4. Forming Partnerships

Forming strategic partnerships or joint ventures can be an effective way to enter the EU market by combining resources, local knowledge, and networks. This approach mitigates some of the risks associated with foreign market entry and can provide a competitive edge. However, it requires aligning with partners whose business goals and practices are compatible with your own, which can be challenging.

Investment and Risk Insight: Moderate investment with shared control, introducing complexities in decision-making but potentially offering greater market insight and reduced individual risk.

5. Franchising

Franchising allows for rapid expansion with relatively lower direct investment. It leverages the franchisee’s investment in operations while ensuring that products and services adhere to the brand’s standards. While this model can significantly increase market presence, it depends heavily on the franchisee’s ability to maintain quality and service standards.

Investment and Risk Insight: Moderate investment control primarily over branding and product standards, while operational control remains with franchisees, introducing a balance of profit and dependency risks.

Choosing the right market entry model is essential to get right. Depending on how vigorously you want to enter the EU market, you might decide to proceed with more than one, or strategically combine them. Each model varies in investment, control, and risk, making it key to align the choice with your strategic objectives and risk tolerance. Whatever entry model you commit to, they must be supported by marketing and promotion to ensure that your EU prospects know you exist, and why they should choose your product.

Implementing a Localised Marketing Strategy for EU Markets

A localised marketing strategy to support your chosen market entry model is the next fundamental step to ensuring a successful launch into your chosen EU market. By tailoring your marketing efforts to fit local nuances, regulations, and consumer behaviours, you can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your market entry, whether through direct exporting, establishing a subsidiary, or any other model. Here’s how marketing can align with and support these strategies:

Tailor Messages to Local Audiences

Understand the cultural nuances and preferences of each target market. Use your thorough market research to gather insights about local consumer behaviours, preferences, and trends. This research should inform every aspect of your marketing message, from the language used to the values highlighted in your promotions.

A UK manufacturer of industrial machinery entering the German market customised their marketing materials to emphasize precision engineering and compliance with stringent EU regulations, which are critical selling points for German businesses. They used case studies to showcase successful deployments in similar markets and demonstrated reliability and effectiveness.

Align Marketing with Distribution Channels

Align your strategies with your chosen distribution channels. For instance, if you’re using resellers or agents, provide them with marketing collateral that they can easily adapt and deploy. This ensures consistency in branding and messaging across all touchpoints.

A UK electronics firm used resellers to penetrate the German market. They provide these resellers with comprehensive marketing kits that included localised promotional materials, product training videos, and ready-to-use social media content. This ensured that the resellers were well-prepared to represent the brand accurately and effectively.

Use Digital Marketing to Enhance Presence

Leverage digital marketing to build a strong online presence in the new market. This includes localised SEO to ensure visibility on local search engines, region-specific content marketing, and targeted digital advertising like PPC to appeal to the local audience’s preferences and online behaviours.

When entering the Italian market, a British gourmet food producer established a subsidiary and the launched a localised e-commerce site. They implemented an SEO strategy targeting Italian culinary keywords and partnered with popular Italian cooking blogs for guest posts and ads, which drove significant traffic to their new site.

Facilitate Partnerships with Marketing Support

If entering the market via partnerships or joint ventures, ensure that your marketing efforts are collaborative and support mutual goals. Develop joint marketing campaigns that combine the strengths of both partners to maximise market impact.

A UK supplier of construction materials partnered with a French firm to enter France. Together, they sponsored trade shows and hosted joint webinars on sustainable building practices, a hot topic in France, thus pooling their resources for greater impact.

Support Franchising with Consistent Branding

For franchising models, maintaining brand consistency is paramount. Provide franchisees with detailed branding guidelines and regular marketing training. This helps ensure that all franchised outlets represent the brand correctly, providing a uniform customer experience.

A British consulting firm franchised their operations in Poland. They developed an extensive franchisee training programme that included quarterly updates on marketing strategies, access to a central marketing resource library, and guidelines on using the brand’s messaging and visuals in local marketing activities.

Entering the EU market is a significant venture that requires a proactive and strategic approach. By carefully choosing your entry model, localising your marketing efforts, aligning marketing strategies with your market entry models, and building a strong local presence, UK manufacturers can confidently navigate the complexities of EU expansion.

Have you seen our white paper?

For those intrigued by the potential of the EU for UK manufacturers, please download a free copy of our white paper. It offers deep insights, strategic guidance, and a pragmatic approach to harnessing export opportunities in a changing trade landscape. By downloading and delving into this document, businesses can equip themselves with the knowledge and strategies needed to navigate the complexities of EU export markets, ensuring sustained growth and competitiveness in the years to come.

White Paper: UK Manufacturing Exports, How to Win in Europe

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Are you ready to explore the EU market with precision and insight? Beach marketing already partner with manufacturers, leveraging our knowledge and expertise in manufacturing to deliver impact, growth, and ROI. Talk to us for B2B marketing support and complete the form below for a no-obligation meeting.

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