As an app development agency and business consulting company, we often work with clients who want to build and launch digital products globally.
Everything starts with the local market because you'll want to have an initial userbase to test the hypotheses and get feedback on your MVP. Because of that, we assume that you already have a certain version of your product to work with.
If you have already wondered how to launch your product on the global market, you could've found myriads of tips on that. The number of things to take care of, risks to address, marketing tactics to try, is staggering. And we are familiar with that frustration.
In this blog post, we decided to focus on the most important things we pay attention to before helping our Asian clients go global with their products. We cannot guarantee that securing them will make your product successful, but they will definitely show you the shortcuts to such an outcome.
1. Select The Expansion Strategy For Your Product
When Deezer gained enough traction to compete with Spotify, they decided to omit the highly-competitive U.S. market and instead targeted smaller countries. At some point, Deezer became present in over 180 countries, when Spotify reached only 60 markets.
In the portfolio of our cross-platform mobile app development company, we have Zutobi, a service that offers a gamified experience of learning the driving theory. Based in Sweden, they decided to target English-speaking audiences next, and thus narrowed down their global market to the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Once they were established there, they proceeded to enter more European countries.
These are two completely different strategies that were based on the resources and opportunities of the companies going global.
And we believe this should be a starting point for you too. Consider your resources, product positions, and target audience to make a roadmap of markets you want to get to first.
After that, you can proceed and research the selected markets. Surely, any new venture requires quite a bit of research, but in our case, there are a few things you should focus on first.
2. Research People's Purchasing Power
In the case of online services and mobile apps, you first need to make sure that your target audience is familiar with online payments. For instance, you might find studies that in some Asian countries people hesitate to buy things online. And India, despite having over 430 internet users, has only 1 in 5 users doing online shopping.
In the countries hit by COVID-19 the most, you might also find that people have temporarily changed their habits, which might affect the demand for your product.
In rare cases, your desired market might appear to use the platform your product is not yet present on. This was the case of Reemaq: when expanding from Australia to the UK and New Zealand a few years ago, they came to our mobile app development agency to migrate their vehicle inspection app from Windows Mobile to Android and iOS.
3. Learn How Western Audience Behavior Differs from Asian
Here we suggest paying attention to how people make purchasing decisions and studying the market history to learn what conquered people's attention previously.
For instance, according to this study on Americans, they are easy on taking risks and thus are more ready to buy and try out something new. That means you'll need to put more effort into product presentation, while people in some other countries will want to have more feasible proof of your product's reliability.
Market history can also reveal insights on the necessary product adaptations. This is an approach taken by McDonald's — they learn the eating habits of every new market they enter and then develop country-specific menus.
Behavior differences relate even more in terms of UX/UI design. For instance, Asian and European users have a different perception of things like individualism, power, uncertainty, femininity. Their cultural differences even affect their perceptions of color.
When we were building a digital solution for Idencia's RFID Tracking System, we learned that sometimes you need to build an app that is as flexible as possible to fit the expectations of the industry. In their web interface, managers can set up the whole process according to their procedures: what data to collect, what photos to keep, what reports to generate, and so on. This is also the way to adapt the product to a new market.
An untrivial marketing strategy to attract users might also be based on partnering with a local company that offers services supplementing your product. And if your mobile app agency provides business consulting services like us, it can help you with that.
4. Adapt the Product to non-Asian Laws and Regulations
Aside from the obvious necessity to make sure your product follows local legislation, you might also reveal additional insights on the culture and the way of living in your targeted market.
For instance, in countries with high tolerance to digital piracy, if your product might become extremely popular, you will need to put extra effort into securing your software beforehand to get enough income from such a market.
Also, check out our case on Uberdoc: it's the service helping you to schedule an appointment with a doctor nearby for a fixed fee and within a couple of minutes. The whole idea, despite being as simple as it can be, was born due to the complicated nature of the U.S. healthcare system that makes it cumbersome to get an appointment the other way.
And there's also the question of intellectual property: make sure the names, trademarks, and logos you use have not been used before by other existing local businesses to avoid earning a lawsuit.
5. Finally, Localize Your Product
Only once you've done your research you can proceed and localize your product. Many companies do that too light-heartedly, thinking that they just need to make sure their UX writing is simple and marketing messages are clear. But this approach makes products too generic and unappealing and is hardly applicable to the products tailored for hieroglyphic languages first.
To win the hearts of your new users abroad, you'll want to speak their language. For that, you'll need to find translators with the necessary skills, marketers ready to communicate your mission and messages in an easy and memorable way, and set up a feedback loop to see if your localization effort turns out to be effective enough.
When the above-mentioned Zutobi started marketing their app in the UK, the US, and Australia, they hired local writers in every country to deliver FAQs and useful content for their audiences.
Another possible issue here is that if your app-building company will probably need to put extra effort into supporting non-hieroglyphic ways of writing and testing the way it is going to look and work in your app.
…Or Take a Shortcut
No matter how this list simple is, going global with your software product is always a big risk and responsibility. Especially if you don’t have a similar experience in the past. But we have that experience.
Founded in Europe but based in Hong Kong, we’ve been targeting the Asian market for a few years and have a few clients that we helped not only build software products but go global with them.
Because of the demand for such a service, we even launched a business analysis plan, a life-saver for Asian companies wanting to conquer the world. It is aimed to help you come up with a perfect expansion strategy tailored for your product and to your resources and requirements.
From market and competitor research to customer profile and business model development, this 2-week plan will get you a clear understanding of your next steps and feasible goals to achieve.
Forget about the hassle of never-ending researches and decisions that leave you doubtful whether you made the right choice by partnering with a company that has deep hands-on expertise with this kind of challenge.
Having a European business partner in such a venture is also helpful because we know how to build proper infrastructure to serve global customers. Switching to worldwide accepted tools things like Firebase for app development on the backend, Stripe for payments, or Facebook for authorization is usually an extra pain in the neck for Asian companies that we can take away in no time.
If this list seems to be too short and overly simplified for you, let’s see what we get in the end. Once you do what is offered above, you'll see that you have everything you need to enter the markets of your choice:
- You'll see where you need local teams of marketers to launch the product
- You'll have versions of the product that are not only localized for the new audience but also adapted to the local laws, culture, and people's only habits
- You'll have a clear understanding of how to conquer those markets, a software team to roll out the updates according to users' feedback and expectations, and localization teams to present them to the users in the most appealing way.
That should be enough for you to get a general grasp of how to move on with your global strategy. And we, in turn, we'll cover more specific challenges like how to adapt the UI/UX of your product to local expectations, how to find innovative ways to stand out among local competitors, and, ultimately, how to make data-driven decisions in case something goes wrong. Subscribe to our blog to let us know you'd love to get those insights first!
P.S.: Or, if you can’t wait, schedule a free consultation with us to get your questions answered ASAP.