Data-informed Strategies

The challenges with selling internationally

Team MakerSights

August 31, 2019

Each season starts the same. The CEO and the board, looking for predictable sustained revenue, are seeking their next growth drivers. The plan for the season comes out, “We’re going to do $100M in Spring.” While the designers sketch and create prototypes, the merchants break down each style and determine how many styles are needed to hit that volume. The price, color or styles are determined so line adoption of the global assortment can be finalized. A ton of work has been done up to this point to take new products to market, but this becomes the place where so much can go wrong. 

The largest data set to date for critical sell-in and buy depth decisions has been historical sales data. Traditionally, regional forecasts are based upon two year old sales data. This is in an industry whose trends are continually evolving and as brands are seeking to enter new markets. If you guess and get it wrong you might have a soft quarter, a total miss, or depreciate your personal brand capital. Missing trends is dramatically exacerbated on a global scale. 

The United States has cultural differences from coast to coast, but they are not different to the degree that Europe has from country to country. Brands selling heavily into Europe are actually targeting 30 micro-markets each wanting different styles. It can be detrimental to your business if you miss the cultural implications of how each style will resonate. When you’re selling in to every continent, the unique needs of that many consumers can wildly influence the success in each region.  

The stakes are high. You might be stuck with a bunch of excess inventory that doesn’t sell and tarnishes your brand. Even more damaging to a brand than just missing sales targets, if the brand is thought of only caring about one particular culture, it can leave those in another culture feeling that the brand doesn’t speak to them or have their needs in mind. That can result in them writing off the brand forever. 

As merchants and designers at corporate headquarters make decisions for the global assortment, the teams in specific markets often push back on the particular allocations for their region. This puts an incredible amount of time, complexity and strife in global product decision making. 

When we look across all of the experiments MakerSights has ever run, there are some interesting trends on the favorability of certain colors in different markets. In the United States, blue is consistently selected as the most desirable color to American consumers. Both China and France think red is the most alluring. Whereas in Germany neutrals, greens & gray dominate when Germans think of their next apparel selection. Worldwide the least appealing color to consumers is orange, except of course in The Netherlands. 

Use data to unlock collaborative decision making within a global org line finalization & buy depths. Build confidence in global hero SKUs and regional winners by aligning regional teams to a shared data set. By hearing the voice of the customer across cultures & geographies you can learn from your next consumers before finalizing buy depths. By partnering with sales, product organizations can craft the ideal assortment edited for a particular key account.

Team MakerSights

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