Localised Research ―The Key to Entering the European Retail Industry

white red and green map
Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash 

Europe is every foreigner’s dream, as it has plenty of diversity across the region, with countries with the warmest beaches and bone-chilling cities. It’s usually considered a great place to live due to cultural variety, job opportunities and high quality of life. But these are not the only reasons why Europe is great. 

Its economy is flourishing, as seen from statistics on industries like retail trade. Germany, France, the UK and Italy are prominent figures in terms of turnover, with recent growth in retail sales by 1.4% across EU member states. 

However, it’s safe to say that penetrating the European retail market can be tricky. That’s because 

audiences tend to clutch their traditions and culture, which need to be translated into advertisements and marketing strategies. Everyone knows the timeless “Scandinavian design” motto from IKEA advertisements that showcase features of community, social equity and nature, known as typical characteristics of citizens of the Netherlands. 

So, if you’d like to expand your company and enter the European retail sector, here’s what you’ll need to do. 

Analyse the local public 

Regardless of the region you’ve targeted, it’s essential to analyse the local audience through intensive research to collect information about their characteristics, lifestyles and wishes. Surveys, workshops and focus groups are usually used as strategies to reach the target audience. Moreover, your company should also seek local decision-makers, such as Savanta Europe, who can consult you on stakeholders, manufacturers and suppliers in the area to sustain the business. 

Typically, you need to work with a professional research organisation through which you’ll access local plans and initiatives, develop a communication plan and track progress. Without local services, it’s less likely that you’ll be able to infiltrate retail, as the industry is heavily based on personalisation. 

Build a community 

Although this marketing tip is accurate despite the location, it’s fairly valuable in the European Union, where people are stronger in communities, especially if we separate the area into Eastern, Southern, Western and Northern Europe, whose citizens, culture and traditions can differ. For instance, there’s a prominent different religious influence in Eastern Europe than Western Europe due to distinct history. These small but essential characteristics can help you find success as a company in the European space. 

You might thrive as a farming business on the Eastern side, as the productive soil from the Danube can be leveraged for great profit. On the other hand, the Western area, which includes countries like France, Germany and the Netherlands, tends to be more industrialised, so you might find your target audience easier. 

Regardless of the area you choose for your business, learning how to build a stable community with people who see value in your company and can support your beginnings is essential. Luckily, Europeans are active on social media significantly, and they spend their time on it to find products to buy by 25.9%. However, Europeans use social media the most to keep in touch with relatives, read the news and consume content. 

Strengthen your customer service

Not everywhere is the customer always right, and to enter the retail market in Europe, you must improve your customer service because they matter the most to Europeans. Focusing on customer satisfaction is essential for your business to thrive, and your strategy must be based on empathy, service and personalisation. 

When it comes to empathy and communication styles, countries have different approaches, so you’ll notice that German customers tend to be straightforward in what they want. At the same time, Italians might need more support and guidance to achieve their goals. 

Productive service speed is necessary regardless of the region, but you might want to keep in mind working hours and the age group of your target audience. As with any other consumer, data and personalisation are required to offer the best services and tailor your responses to each region. This method is linked with cultural norms, as different countries sometimes value hospitability more than punctuality or vice versa. 

Finally, mind the country’s economic conditions to settle your business. It’s imperative to have accurate expectations about the progress of your products or services because some customers might simply not need them or can’t afford them. On the other hand, cheap products might be ignored in a developed country where people focus on high quality

Expand payment options 

Although many people in Europe still rely heavily on cash, some audiences are ardently waiting for more payment options as they’ve expanded their income sources and access different assets. Choosing the right payment methods matters in the European retail industry. Typically, people prefer bank transfers and use their debit cards rather than credit. 

However, you’ll often notice how small countries, such as Poland, developed local payment brands that use A2A (account-to-account) payment solutions. Don’t worry― developed countries prefer international brands, such as PayPal, so if you enter the German or Italian market, you’ll be able to please customers with broader payment options. 

Be flexible 

Last, but not least, learn to be flexible. Trends change here, too, and consumers tend to be influenced by the online environment, where they share opinions with others and engage with businesses, so learning how to adapt to these changes is essential. For instance, in numerous European countries, commerce TV is still thriving, so investing in television ads can be helpful for your brand to get recognition. 

Influencer advertising is also on the rise, with sectors like family, cooking or technology being the most prosperous on platforms like YouTube. This is also part of social media and video advertising, so build a solid marketing strategy for the online environment. 

What do you think about the European market?

Europe is the ideal vacation spot for many foreigners, but its developed economy, history and diversity make it the perfect starting point for a new business. However, you need to approach the method of localised research to find information about smaller audiences and their traditions and find ways to appeal to them through personalised advertisement. Building a stable community and being flexible are staple strategies for pushing the boundaries in the European retail industry.  

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.