Send It Overseas!
Domestic markets have become saturated, and finding new customers abroad often is considered a path to growth and new profits.
Many U.S. catalogers have scored good response rates by adapting their domestic catalog and mailing it abroad. However, this requires more than changing the language and currency to match the preferences of your target market.
Conduct a detailed analysis to avoid a false start and the possible loss of investment. Your research should include available and accepted media, the direct marketing infrastructure, sales promotions, product ordering methods, standard payment options, creative standards, postal and legal necessities, and the target country’s culture. I’ll examine some of these issues below.
• Currency and Language: The use of local currency and language are usually respected. But don’t just translate your domestic catalog. A strict, word-for-word translation may not respect the nuances of the target group’s language. Adaptation is required.
• Legal Requirements: Do your research. For instance, in most nations you’ll have no problem making the participation in a prize drawing conditional upon placing an order. However, this is illegal in Germany.
• Address Formats: The address is one of the first points of attention, and internationally you can fail with a correct name and address but in the wrong format. Each country has postal address formats. For example, while the ZIP code follows the city and state in the United States, in most European countries, post codes are placed before the city name.
• Order Forms: The best creative concept with impressive products mailed to the correct target group is worthless if you’re not offering the preferred and accepted payment option(s). A U.S. fashion cataloger failed when it launched its first German catalog, because it didn’t offer payment on open invoice. Most German mail-order clients use this method of payment, while payment by credit card accounts for only about 10 percent of mail-order purchases there. In subsequent mailings, the cataloger included the open invoice payment option and generated much higher response rates.