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Making assumptions about culture could see your international ecommerce efforts destined to failure.

At Thrive Digital we insist that all of our clients undertake thorough market research that investigates cultural values in their target countries and markets, as experience has shown us that this is vital for success with international ecommerce.

Emil Stickland, Thrive Digital’s CEO, explains that many UK companies recognise the potential of selling into the Chinese marketplace but most fail to investigate whether their products and services are positioned correctly to sell in the Far East.

Emil explains: “Market research, especially looking at cultural values and opinions on your products and services is not a ‘nice to have’, in our opinion it is essential.

“Large toy manufacturers have really struggled in the Chinese marketplace, mainly because the level of power distance is so different. In the West, much of the toy marketing is aimed at the children – in the hope that they will tell their parents about the toys they want – the phenomenon of pester power.

“In the Far East it doesn’t work like that – there is a much further power distance between the parent and child. The parent decides what toys are best for the children with the result that they tend to buy more educational type of products – books and puzzles in particular.”

Emil gave the telling example Mattel made of not understanding the cultural values of their target market when they introduced House of Barbie in Shanghai at great expense, only to have to close down the venture two years later.

He said: “It was meant to be a big flagship product in the Far East but they just made a mistake with their knowledge of the market, they assumed that young girls were their customers and hadn’t considered that the parents were the key decision makers.”

Emil added: “Thrive Digital ensure that we discover the cultural aspects that might impact on international ecommerce before we take your products into foreign markets, for instance your products may not fit within that culture or you may have to change your messaging if you are to achieve success.”
Find out more about how we can help you to understand the needs of your target audiences in international markets.

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