Are you looking to Asia for expansion? Cloud and Saas based technology makes it easy to make the first steps, as far as deployment is concerned. Sandra Patton will shed some light into the path to Asia with your digital media offerings.
What makes or breaks your success in Asia? Especially interesting for companies that do omni-channel communication looking outside their home territory.
Asia – a path to success or failure?
Asia; growth continent of the world. It is the home to over half of the world’s population with an amazing mix of relatively sophisticated economies as well as bric and emerging powerhouses.
Not only is Asia the manufacturing hub, it has also become digitally savvy, both in the use of the internet and mobile devices often leaving more mature societies behind.
There are many pitfalls in looking to new markets for expansion and profitability and in this series we are hoping to advise how to avoid some of them as well as ensuring that you can make informed decisions about whether Asia is for you.
Many companies are looking to new markets in the emerging or bric economies as sluggish economic growth in Europe in particular as well as in most of the Western World force organisations to look to new areas to sell their solutions. The rise of Cloud based technologies in many areas including marketing automation and analytics demonstrate that technology now has no barriers to expand.
Grants, business matching and tech centers
As companies and consumers look for technology to fuel the internet phenomena there are opportunities for international companies to compete against local companies as the sophistication gap still exists but it is closing.
Singapore offers grants to business for the uptake of technology automation, Hong Kong offer specially designated high tech centres for IT companies to work out of such as Cyberport Sydney offers access to grants, business matching and a mature market to sell into. Mobility is very sophisticated throughout most of Asia, and mobile usage is extremely high as smart phones offer users cheap access to the World Wide Web!
Research Statistics on Asia
McKinsey estimates that there will be over 1.2 billion internet users in China and India alone by the end of 2014. Internet Commerce will be valued at US$80 billion by 2015. IAB predict that digital ad spending growth will rise by nineteen percent this year and sixteen percent next year for the region. That makes Asia an interesting Growth area, but there are specifics to be aware of.
Retail e-Commerce & m-Commerce
Internet commerce companies in Asia such as Rakuten (Japan) and Alibaba (China) have risen and are flexing their online muscle. In a designated “special shopping day” to rival Cyber Monday for the US Thanksgiving Holiday, China has nominated November 11th to be Singles Shopping day and this year sales, for a thirteen hour shopping period, exceeded US $5 billion. Compare this to last year’s US results of $1.4 billion and one can see the US is losing the mantle of being the centre of the Virtual World.
Barriers and Blunders
The first error that organisations can make – they see Asia as a homogeneous market, nothing could be further from the truth! Asia, like Europe, is made up of many countries, nationalities, customs, languages, levels of sophistication, infrastructure and history of tensions and wars, so to think “Asia” means to pick locations and to work those before moving further.
If we look at Asia Pacific, outside of Japan, there are three to five regional hubs that offer sound bases to operate from. They include Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Bangkok and Seoul (primarily for North Asia). They are used to international business practices, have sound and robust civil law codes, strong banking institutions, and offer gateways to doing business within the region.
Another barrier to entry to these hubs is language. Only Sydney and Singapore speak English fluently and widely. Hong Kong, whilst it states it speaks English fluently, needs a Cantonese speaker to ensure understanding, particularly when explaining platform and other technical features, and Bangkok and Seoul have limited English. Therefore relying on English as the passport to communications success can lead to tears.
Market Entry Options
Two of the easiest ways to start operations are to either enter into a partnership with an IT/digital media company that can shadow most of your operations and has established contacts within your target markets or to appoint a company that offers a virtual sales function such as Sales as a Service. Developing relationships with National Chambers of Commerce as well as Overseas Trade Development Agencies are also a must.
Government Export Grants
CFOs or senior management need to research what export grants are being offered by National Governments and then apply to access them to fund their export activities. They also need to have a reasonable budget for this activity and should be able to financially support the operation to the tune of at least US$100k for the first twelve months. Trips to the region including trade delegations will cost extra.
Data Integrity and Privacy
Countries within the region have been strengthening their privacy protection and user laws so companies need to consider setting up data centres there particularly in light of the Edward Snowden material on US Government spying on top of the Wikileaks reports.
Company Registration within a country of operation will help appease potential client’s concerns and provide a degree of confidence. It demonstrates commitment to a region, a contract to longevity and provides surety for client service and management into the future.
In further articles, we will examine individual markets, barriers to entry, local competition etc as well as the use of email and social media marketing.