5 things you need to know about your new international customers

In any business, understanding your customer is key. But for exporters, who are often selling in unfamiliar markets, it’s even more crucial.

In order to make your product or service desirable to new international markets, you’ll first need to understand how these potential new customers make their purchase decisions. The goal is to make their customer journey seamless, familiar and uncomplicated – so they’ll find value, have a positive experience, and hopefully buy again.

Once you have researched the overseas market you’re venturing into, use this guide to help understand what matters to these buyers, before developing your international marketing strategy. Ask yourself these five questions:

1. Why will your customer need your product?

Before you can understand what your customer wants (and why) you need to know exactly who they are.

Market research will help you to build a profile of your potential customer, and identify their key characteristics such as age, gender, occupation and disposable income. Your goal is to convince your purchaser that your product or service is worth their time and money – so take the time to figure this out before you jump in the deep end.

Beyond their demographic data, you may also need to understand why they shop and what motivates them to make purchases. Your product or service needs to cater directly to those needs or wants, which could range from work demands and budget pressure, to aspirational or emotional preferences.

It can also be worthwhile to pay attention to the market standard. When people have a lot of familiarity with a category, they’re likely to have strong brand or product expectations. Be sure to research the local competitors and identify your point of difference to market.

2. How will your customer find your product?

Understanding how your customers shop is as important as understanding why. Customers discover products and services through a range of channels, from social media advertising to face-to-face contact with sales representatives, or even a conversation with a family member. While people may ask friends for recommendations, they might also conduct blind searches online looking for something specific.

The best way to make sure your target customers can find your product is to make sure you cover all the necessary bases. This goes back to understanding your target customer, and pinpointing the way they like to shop. Are their purchases spontaneous or carefully considered? Do they usually shop online or prefer to browse in person?

Before you begin any kind of advertising, be sure to research any consumer laws and advertising guidelines that may differ to Australia.

3. How will your customer evaluate and compare?

It’s a buyer’s market, and as an exporter you’ll be competing against local businesses that are already familiar within that market. Customers will often do their own research to make sure your product or service stacks up in terms of quality and value.

This is why testimonials are so important. Just like a personal recommendation, people trust reviews to support their purchase decisions. Having reviews on your website’s home page can give your customers a helping hand in that process. Some people may be hesitant to do this in case they receive a negative review. But as long as there aren’t too many, negative reviews can show your brand integrity, and give you a chance to help show other customers how you respond to and deal with issues.

4. How does your customer decide where to buy?

Choose your vendors wisely as they could have a significant impact on your customer’s decision-making process and shape their experience with your brand. Never underestimate the value of researching your shopping habits and spending preferences, as this might lead you directly to the vendors you should be partnering with.

Once you’ve selected a few vendors you think match your brand, research their reputation. As the first point of contact for your customers, you need to be able to trust them to represent your professional values.

Also, consider their supply chain and any extra costs involved that may add up. This could also mean tailoring your marketing strategy to target different buyers in the supply chain.

5. How can you convince your buyer to buy again?

A simple way to help someone to stick with your brand is to make their initial purchase experience positive. Simplicity, value and ease are key. Make your product, service and pricing as easy as possible to understand, and the purchase process simple to buy.

People may be less inclined to check out competitors if you tick all the boxes. If customers find value in their first purchase, they’re also likely to buy again or recommend your brand.

Ready to take on the world?

Read our Insights paper on the Australian small businesses that have gone global and begin charting your route there.

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