5 top tips for exporting luxury goods

In the current international scene, the growth and expansion opportunities are endless, and many companies and brands have found or will find a niche in foreign markets. This might happen as part of a prepared plan or as the result of an existing opportunity that requires a reactive and fast approach. As Victoria Boldison, Founder of Bolst Global, mentions in an interview about the importance of export strategies, some companies do not have an export strategy or a plan in place when targeting new regions. We believe that it is essential to design one, especially if the goods that you are exporting are associated with certain values, expectations and standards. Whether you have started exporting goods or you are planning to, this will help you to face the challenges of entering a new territory; preparing you to be as successful abroad as your home market.

Yolanda’s top tips

  • Find the right partners
  • Market research
  • Language and culture
  • Local laws and regulations
  • Adapt to industry trends

At Ultimate Languages, we believe that there are five essential considerations to take into account when exporting luxury goods to any target market:

Involve the right partners early in the journey

Deciding who will you be collaborating with on this adventure is just as crucial as identifying the right target market, as ideally you want to create a partnership with someone you can trust and rely on. From a digital and localisation perspective, finding the right partner from the beginning will help you benefit from their expertise and they will help make your transition to the new market smoother, more effective and streamlined. Unfortunately, it is common that some companies decide to choose raw machine translation or rely on local friends or representatives to help with the language aspect of the strategy. However, at Ultimate Languages, we recommend that you select a professional language service provider (LSP), who will be able to design a tailored solution for you. A professional LSP will look at all aspects of your communication strategy, addressing any potential cultural challenges, allowing you to successfully achieve your goals. For us, the right translation partner should build glossaries, style guides and other reference material to support an experienced team of translators, whilst providing other services that might be needed such as SEO, typesetting, transcreation, social media, etc.

Research the target market and know your audience

Before deciding to approach a certain market it is essential that you identify regions with buying potential for the goods you are looking at exporting, whilst considering your target consumer profile. The research should cover aspects ranging from pricing, purchasing habits, preferential languages and dialects, law and regulations, to existing competitors. All these factors will help you decide how to prepare your positioning for that market. For example, according to the Global E-Commerce Market Ranking 2019, the US and China are at the head of the world’s e-commerce market. If you decide to target these markets, you must be aware that your audience in China would expect you to interact with them via their social media preferred platforms, such as WeChat and Weibo. Japanese consumers would be inclined to pay high prices for luxury and high-end brands, as they associate luxury brands with quality products. Spanish consumers tend to buy online, particularly fashion items, but they are amongst the Europeans more concerned about personal data protection.

Pay attention to the language and cultural implications

One of the fundamental aspects when expanding to a new market is to find a way of communicating effectively to your new audience, as you want your product or service to achieve the same success as in your home market. Meeting the language expectations of your target consumer is essential and you need to pay attention to the language proficiency, tone, style, register, terminology, variants of the same language, among many other things that will have an impact on your brand’s image. For example, if you are targeting Spain but you already have some Latin American Spanish content, we would suggest to adapt it to the new market, as there will be words whose meaning will change even though both are two variants of Spanish.

In addition to this, consumer behaviour can be guided by some culture-specific dispositions and language perceptions. Even though we might think that English can be understood globally and there is no need for translation, there are many studies and theories, such as the Speech Accommodation Theory, that indicate that an audience prefers its own language and will have a more positive response to your products.

Finally, what an international business requires nowadays is not only a translation strategy, but a full customised localisation one that adapts to the local language and culture. An example of this comes from Louis Vuitton, one of the most well known luxury brands worldwide and despite its international outlook, when they decided to enter the Japanese market they opted to partner with a local architect (Jun Aoki) and open a flagship store that combined classic Louis Vuitton patterns with Japanese minimalism. In Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and Romania, Louis Vuitton bags are sold from stands in shopping centers, while this could damage the brand’s luxury status in other countries.

Checking country regulations on materials and law requirements

The political, economic and legal aspects of exporting to a new territory need to be deeply investigated by any business expanding, as the target regions will have different regulatory standards and measures for certain products and services. For example, there is a ban on exporting luxury goods to North Korea and Syria directly or indirectly. There are also special regulations on the export of certain materials such as protected woods, diamonds, or fur. Political decisions of the current global situation, such as the recent tariff increase in goods such as leather, wine or certain liquors promoted by US President Donald Trump, will also impact the export strategy, so it is important to be kept informed at all times.

Adapt to the newest trends and changes in the industry

It is important to keep the balance between local and global and adapt to the newest trends in the luxury industry, both at home and in your international markets. In many regions such as Spain, social media and influencer marketing are increasingly impacting customer’s behaviour, so brands that will look into entering this specific market will have to take this into consideration and potentially design a marketing strategy that involves influencers.

Another example of adapting to the newest habits comes from Louis Vuitton, who launched a chatbot assistant on Facebook that allowed users to share their products with their friends and vote on what to buy. Finally, another trend in the luxury industry is personalisation and many brands such as Hugo Boss or Burberry have launched campaigns to allow customers to select their clothes materials, designs and even personalised perfume collections.

All in all, facing the challenges of taking luxury goods outside of your home market will be easier if you onboard the right export and localisation partners, and you design together a strategy that focuses on the target language and culture, on adapting to the latest trends and behaviours, and that understands your brand identity and what your desires, needs and expectations for the new regions are.

Are you a luxury brand needing support to develop strong export and localisation strategies? Then reach out to a member of the Ultimate team today. We can’t wait to work with you.

Click on the image to the right to download our infographic for more localisation tips for luxury brands.

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