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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Exporting your brand

Some things to remember before eyeing the foreign market

By Romelda C. Ascutia

Bench, Figaro, and Kamiseta are three of only a handful of Filipino brands-San Miguel Beer is perhaps the best known-that have made it overseas. If you think your brand has a good chance of similarly winning abroad, do the following before drafting your global strategy:

Be successful. You must be established cash-rich before you even dream of expanding abroad, where you'll need a deep pocket to finance road shows and other promotional vehicles to expose your product, says Lyrna Esmeralda, country manager of A.S. Louken International Inc., a company offering business solutions to retailers.

Establish a strong brand. Having a strong brand means customers can quickly link it with your products. "If they can't, then there's a problem with identity, with who you really are," says Esmeralda.

Build a reputation for quality. Consumers want only the best. "If you lose the consumer's trust, it's going to be hard to get it back," says Esmeralda.

Shape up. To compete successfully abroad, your business must be efficient in everything, can deliver anytime anywhere, and can hold its own against any competition.

Adapt to various markets. You must localize to globalize and redesign your product if necessary to suit your customers' needs and expectations. In his 5 Tips to Grow Your Business Globally on asiapreneur.com, Wayne Po cites Unilever's marketing success in Asia, where it offered its products in small packages and sachets-instead of family-size bottles or bars-to make them more affordable. Dennis Ng, chief operations officer of AsiaKing Inc., the company running the B2B portal asiakingworld.com, says you can compete overseas without going out of the Philippines by signing up as a member of the portal to have your own website. He claims asiakingworld.com is the first B2B site to have a multilingual messaging system and real-time meeting functions to facilitate communication in 13 languages. "Just connect to the Internet and sit tight and you can make a sale," he says. "The cheapest way of branding yourself is to go IT and then expand slowly."

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