O for Obsessed with local markets: No – you should not export to Europe

Uncategorized Sep 14, 2021

O for Obsessed with local markets: No – you should not export to Europe

This will largely be equivalent to you wanting to export to the entire US at once. Therefore, do not look at Europe as one market, but instead try to understand the parts of the market that are relevant to you and your business.

When I say you should not export to Europe, I of course say that with a wink. Because, of course, you have to export to Europe - you just can’t see it as one market. Instead, you must divide Europe into segments – local markets. With a population of around 750 million people (depending on which countries you count as Europe) spread across an area similar to the size of the US, even a small niche in Europe has great potential for many American companies.

But before we move on, we need to talk about geography.

Four geographical facts about Europe

  • Europe has 51 independent states, 27 of which are members of the European Union (EU), as of Sep 14, 2021.
  • The European Union has thirteen metropolitan areas with populations of more than two million.
  • The total land area is approximately 10,180,000 km2 (3,930,000 sq. miles).
  • Much like the US, Europe has areas with high population density and areas with very low density. For example, though Sweden is the 5th largest country in Europe in terms of area, it has one of the lowest population densities.

Clearly, Europe cannot be viewed as a single market. Each country, region or metropolitan area needs to be perceived as a local, individual market.

Forget about the distributor list in Excel

Back to your approach to the European market. I have experienced several times that when an American company wants to export to Europe, they try to find a distributor in (almost) every country. This is not the right approach, neither in the US nor Europe.

There are significant differences from country to country, and you will find several areas with low population density and great distances. Therefore, it will require really many dealers if you want to cover the entirety of Europe from day one.

Instead, I recommend you find your niche: the part of the European market that suits your business and your products. This is where you need to focus your resources on establishing your exports.

How to find your European export markets

There is no doubt that it is a lot of work to find the right segments of the European market. This is where I can help you: Your knowledge of your company and your product combined with my knowledge of Europe, international trade and my large networks will form a strong partnership.

I specifically recommend two things in the startup phase when you want to export to Europe:

Factfinding trip

Typically, I would recommend we go on a fact-finding trip in Europe for a couple of weeks. We visit the areas that we have assessed that are central to your business. You meet several relevant contacts in relation to potential customers, partners, general networks and people with local knowledge. You gain hands-on experience, in-depth market knowledge, and you begin to create your own European network - identify your key stakeholders.

Concept testing

An important point on our "factfinding trip" is concept testing. Here we talk to potential customers and let them tell us what they think about the product, how it solves a "pain" in their everyday life, where they want to buy it, through which sales channels - and whether they will buy it at all if it becomes available on the European market.


Your export advisor to the European market

To get the most out of both a fact-finding trip and concept testing, you need proper knowledge of the European market. I can be your organizer, co-chair, co-star and the devil's advocate.

I can maximize your investment in going on a business trip to Europe. I am your extra set of ears and eyes in Europe; My experience with what Europeans say - and do not say - gives you the most out of any dialogue with your stakeholders.

After working with international trade for more than 35 years, I have built up a large network, I have hands-on experience with sales in both the USA and Europe.

Contact me for a non-committal talk about how I can help your business with your next strategic step in the European market.

This was the COURAGE model's O - you should not see Europe as one market. Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I will continue to the COURAGE model’s U: Unfold cultural differences.


Charlotte Nytoft / Sep 14th, 2021

Mobile / Whatsapp: +45 41609119

E-mail: [email protected]


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