Four Hurdles Brands Face with Global Media Expansion (and How to Nab the Competitive Edge)

One. Trillion. Dollars. 
No, it’s not a ransom number requested by Dr. Evil. It’s the forecasted number of worldwide media, marketing, and advertising spend in 2016.  Though global reach was once a pipedream for growing brands, the possibilities of international reach are now almost limitless. 
While eyes are often set on expansion into emerging international markets to secure future stability, uncertainties arise when the decision has been made to introduce a brand or product into unchartered territories. What’s worked domestically may not work 8,000 miles away in lands where local competition, language barriers, cultural norms, and industry issues present challenges brands need to be aware of in order to optimize introductions and ongoing positioning. 
So, what media expansion hurdles do you need to overcome in order to go global?
1. Understand market, cultural, and local industry issues
As advertisers, our goal is to reach target audiences in the most positive, meaningful, and effective way possible. But, as competitive landscapes and media placements are quickly becoming saturated in growing markets, this is easier said than done. A step towards achieving this goal involves deep understanding into the local consumer mind-set and what makes them tick. 
Some questions that should be on an expanding brands’ mind include: 
  • What local economic and political issues affect the market and our target consumer? 
  • What about changes in consumption? 
  • Are there new technology and product features we should be aware of? 
  • What social issues are local consumers most concerned about? 
Let’s say your organization wanted to gain a better understanding of consumer expectations around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues across a key region, as well as how local competitors were tackling them. In the past, our teams would first break down CSR messaging over multiple social issues across markets, as well as identify best-in-class examples and opportunities for new CSR initiatives previously ignored. This Market Insights report would allow your organization to tailor your CSR messaging and initiatives to best stand out and resonate with your target audience. 
The questions brands can ask and the issues at hand are endless and differ based on industry. However, by understanding consumer trends, globally expanding brands can tailor their message, coinciding with local thought processes and industry evolutions to ensure a meaningful impact. 
2. Develop clarity into local and growing competitive landscapes
This seems simple enough – who are the major competitors in the space and what markets are they expanding into? However, keep this in mind when gaining clarity into competitive markets: on top of global players that you may be up against, local and regional brands also require serious consideration in terms of established market presence and deep-rooted consumer loyalty. Another challenge to be faced is the various brands that plan to enter in the near future. 
For instance, if your brand wanted to gain clarity into a new landscape, you should consider monitoring competitive advertising within a particular competitive set, resulting in brand new insights. But, you must act fast. We have frequently handled situations for brands expanding into new markets where an unkown competitor suddenly emerged with similar messaging to that of other leading organizations, and I can tell you timing is truly everything.
The first rule is to act before new players gain major Share of Voice (SOV) and market share. Being reactive is not smart here; instead, you need to act before significant competitive damage is done. We’ve helped many leading brands not only by identifying new competitors, but also by bringing competitive insights to the attention of global brand and agency teams to take proper action. By being a step ahead of local competition, it ensured they would not overtake or change the messaging that was carefully crafted and maintained.
Chances are, if your brand sees great opportunity for growth, other global players are also taking notice and planning entrance. In this sense, it is vital to maintain awareness of growing and constantly changing competitive landscapes as industries saturate them.
3. Seek visibility into competitive messaging, spend, and positioning
It’s one thing to create great advertising with a meaningful message to connect with the consumer, but what should a brand do to stand out from the pack and obtain leadership in new and important markets? The answer is to uniquely position and act on competitive media activity. Visibility into competitive messaging and offerings – whether through traditional, digital, and/or corporate communication channels – allows global brands to identify new positioning opportunities that stand out from the crowd and create buzz. 
So, if your brand is set for significant expansion in a given region, you should first uncover any major players at the local market level. Not only will this information provide you with visibility into the brands being marketed across the region, but also with media spend trends and breakdowns by emerging product types, such as tablets and wearable technologies. 
With key historic and ongoing competitive spend benchmarks in place, you can use these details for a number of things, such as developing a go-to-market media strategy, bringing together international brand and agency teams in integrated global research platforms, or even rethinking your expansion altogether.
Ultimately, brand expansion requires a large budget ranging from hiring brand personnel, marketing agencies, media placements, and time. However, arming global teams with competitive intelligence tools and needed resources -- such as up-to-date research databases – make the competition’s creative messaging and media spend investments visible.  
4. Maintain corporate brand guidelines 
Beyond competitive landscapes and messaging, global brands have the unique challenge of dealing with numerous global offices, brand teams, agencies, franchises, and cooperative partners. Making sure that marketing is on-message and follows corporate guidelines can be tricky – especially when it’s not easily visible internationally. 
For example, let’s say you work in the automotive industry and are concerned that your new and recently implemented logo was not being used correctly in international partner communications, your first step in finding a solution would involve creative monitoring and conducting in-depth brand guideline analysis. You would then use that reporting to discover areas of concern with how your identity was being misrepresented at the global level, allowing you to take the appropriate actions to fix the issues.
To protect brand identity and ensure consistent positioning, globally expanding brands must be on top of their own efforts and partner efforts. This ensures brand values are communicated effectively throughout worldwide markets. 
Making the most of your global brand investment
The famed David Ogilvy once said the following, “advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.” Now more than ever, the Father of Advertising’s sentiment rings true as companies continue to invest big money into the possibilities of new and growing markets. 
Expanding to international grounds and the potential for brand growth in key markets is an exciting possibility. However, as evidenced by the above, brand teams must be properly prepared and armed with the information needed to make the most out of their international launch. By understanding local market issues, grasping local completion and their media strategies, and holding your partner teams accountable for brand guidelines, the chances of global success can be that much greater. 
Are you interested in global media expansion? To see how the above information can be attained for your brand, check out Ebiquity’s Market Intelligence solutions or contact us at
By Michael Reynolds
About the Author:

Michael Reynolds is Director, Advertising Intelligence at Ebiquity, plc

Contact Us Now