Jeetu Mahtani, Executive Vice President of Customer Success at HubSpot

How APAC brands can improve connections with consumers globally

Experts advise analysing market complexity by considering laws, political risks, and cultural references of the market they want to enter.

As brands in the APAC region expand internationally, they will find it difficult to connect with consumers due to differences in nuances and demands.

Jeetu Mahtani, Executive Vice President of Customer Success at HubSpot, said 88% of sales leaders consider building connections with customers as their top priority.

"If they want to succeed, we've seen the results, they will have five times better returns through connection than the average company," Mahtani told Singapore Business Review.

Before they can enhance connections with consumers, there must be three considerations to ensure that the market is feasible for brand entry. One consideration is market complexity, which measures how easy it will be to operate in a potential market.

"Key factors that may affect complexity are legal systems, political risks, taxes, insolvency procedures, ease of enforcing contracts, and employment laws," said Mahtani.

These factors, Mahtani pointed out, will affect employment acquisition and the ease of doing business.

The second way is to understand the addressable market by measuring its size. Mahtani said retailers must have decision-makers using public data sources to identify whether there is enough volume of groups aligned with target audience profiles, which will allow them to quantify the number of consumer prospects in the market.

"Data on market complexity and addressable market size allows for more objective decision-making on market expansion, enabling decision-makers to consider opportunities against challenges presented by each market," said Mahtani.

Lastly, a brand needs to determine if it indicates existing brand recognition and demand that can deliver immediate returns from market entry.

"It is also important to consider if cross-border sales and marketing efforts can still work, and only establish a direct presence when business momentum reaches a tipping point where on-the-ground support is essential," said Mahtani.

Revenue streams

When asked about the advantages of expanding a business globally, Mahtani said Asian brands going global can get a "bigger chunk of their revenue outside the region."

He cited the S&P 500 largest companies as an example, which generate over 40% of their profits from outside of the US.

The second advantage, according to Mahtani, is a diversified revenue stream, which is beneficial for those looking to get funding or mergers & acquisitions.

"You've got revenue coming from Asia, but you also have a percentage coming from Europe, a percentage coming from the US, which is seen as very attractive from an investor standpoint," said Mahtani.

Successful CRM

An example of a brand that successfully used customer relationship management (CRM) strategies to connect with customers is Agoda, a travel firm headquartered in Singapore.

Agoda used the sales platform HubSpot, which allows its salespeople to be trained in two weeks instead of the previous three months.

"By being onboarded faster, they're able to generate connections with their prospects and customers much faster," said Mahtani.

Localisation as Brands Go Global

When it comes to APAC brands expanding their business, Kat Warboys, HubSpot's APAC Marketing Director, made an interesting point that localization requires a complex process, such as catering to a market's humour and cultural references.

"Take an English asset and translate it into non-English, so take it from your US website and make one for Japan, for example. This is a limiting view because it doesn't consider localization among English-speaking regions," Warboys told attendees of a forum that she led at HubSpot's INBOUND 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Warboys also cited a LinkedIn study in which APAC marketing leaders' priority is to implement local strategies but may pose some challenges in implementing these.

To resolve this gap, Emmy Jonassen, Vice President for Marketing at HubSpot, said the best way to address this is to centralize the teams who work on specializing skills. One example is creating an SEO team, which has a global head of SEO with sub-units built around every language that services programs that need insights within that region.

During the forum, Warboys also asked if there is a possibility of having one brand platform that can address the demands of all markets, regions, or languages.

To this, it is important to have a globally relevant brand promise such as Nike's brand message that convinces people that they can be an athlete by wearing Nike's shoes, Sunil Desai, Vice President of HubSpot's Brand Marketing, said.

But to attract markets on a campaign level, brands need to tweak the imagery, text, and other messaging to adapt to the local context.

"We know that in Germany, data and privacy are important. To engender trust in that market, we have to lean into more of those messages," Desai told Warboys during the session.

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