Ignacio Ochoa – CEO of Branward
There are solid, in-depth studies on the steps that need to be taken by a company and its brand for international expansion, and others that reflect the key factors that companies consider before using this development model.
This field has been thoroughly covered and needs no further detail from me.
I am working on the premise that there are countless variables of market, sectors, types of source and destination country, cultures, company history, reputation and brand recognition. In my opinion international expansion is not, therefore, a sole discipline requiring a method, but rather a number of methods adapted to each specific situation.
For Spanish brands there is a specific characteristic that is not taken as much into account as it should be. Nevertheless, of course, what I want to share with you in the next paragraph does not apply to all sectors because diversity is infinite. But it does apply, in particular, to services and consumer goods. Keys to our economy.
In the modern world that began to develop in the 1970s, the international growth of brands of services and consumer goods has been catapulted partly due to the experience obtained by visitors to the source country of the brand. Tourism (and the resulting information conveyed by word of mouth) has enabled us to know and experience an infinity of brands that had barely left their own countries. This has meant that, before arriving in other countries, they were already known, and welcome. There are too many examples to mention.
Spain receives over eighty million visitors (many very loyal) each year, and is an ideal and profitable platform to start international expansion from the bottom up. Spanish brands have an opportunity truly within their reach, for visitors to our country to know, appreciate and value in full. We need to win over our customers and brand apostles, ensuring that these visitors find in our products and services an unforgettable brand experience while in our country, on our territory, when we have them close by.
We should get our brand and its reputation to travel before undertaking formal expansion. We should do it from here.
In my own field I think it is important to note that the considerable expansion of our consumer brands has a better chance of success if we primarily concentrate our efforts on winning over our target audience: visitors to the country aged under 30. Those who have not yet settled into customs and consumer habits. Those who are more open to new experiences. This does not mean ignoring the rest.
A second point of interest:
The huge expansion, particularly of American brands, in consultancy services, auditing, legal, advertising, financial services and others, is because they have been driven by companies or brands of goods and services in the same country as their international expansion. For example, American brands in Europe contract service companies of the same nationality. When they go to China, a more recent phenomenon, they do exactly the same. In short, they feed off each other and expand at the same. A perfect mechanism that is not so commonly used by Spanish businesses. Not even inside Spain. And it is a missed opportunity because these Spanish service companies are as competitive as foreign ones, and it is the ideal moment to send our brands from all sectors all over the world.
Finally, a very valuable example:
Just a few days ago I was a guest at a party in Madrid, held by the Ambassador of a major country for Spanish guests, to mark the birthday of its head of state. Despite the official nature of the event, all the food and drink products served were offered with their logos clearly on display, and they were brands from the host country. Not just that. The ambassador himself, in his speech, was very proud to be offering us those brands. There were a number of brands already well-known and established in Spain, but others were completely new for us. I thought it was an excellent lesson.