International Business Entry Modes and Techniques13/03/2020
Exporting is the marketing and direct sale of domestically produced goods in another country. Exporting is a traditional and well-established method of reaching foreign markets. Since it does not require that the goods be produced in the target country, no investment in foreign production facilities is required. Most of the costs associated with exporting take the form of marketing expenses.
While relatively low risk, exporting entails substantial costs and limited control. Exporters typically have little control over the marketing and distribution of their products, face high transportation charges and possible tariffs, and must pay distributors for a variety of services. What is more, exporting does not give a company firsthand experience in staking out a competitive position abroad, and it makes it difficult to customize products and services to local tastes and preferences.
Exporting is a typically the easiest way to enter an international market, and therefore most firms begin their international expansion using this model of entry. Exporting is the sale of products and services in foreign countries that are sourced from the home country. The advantage of this mode of entry is that firms avoid the expense of establishing operations in the new country. Firms must, however, have a way to distribute and market their products in the new country, which they typically do through contractual agreements with a local company or distributor. When exporting, the firm must give thought to labeling, packaging, and pricing the offering appropriately for the market. In terms of marketing and promotion, the firm will need to let potential buyers know of its offerings, be it through advertising, trade shows, or a local sales force.
Among the disadvantages of exporting are the costs of transporting goods to the country, which can be high and can have a negative impact on the environment. In addition, some countries impose tariffs on incoming goods, which will impact the firm’s profits. In addition, firms that market and distribute products through a contractual agreement have less control over those operations and, naturally, must pay their distribution partner a fee for those services.
Licensing and Franchising
A company that wants to get into an international market quickly while taking only limited financial and legal risks might consider licensing agreements with foreign companies. An international licensing agreement allows a foreign company (the licensee) to sell the products of a producer (the licensor) or to use its intellectual property (such as patents, trademarks, copyrights) in exchange for royalty fees. Here’s how it works: You own a company in the United States that sells coffee-flavored popcorn. You’re sure that your product would be a big hit in Japan, but you don’t have the resources to set up a factory or sales office in that country. You can’t make the popcorn here and ship it to Japan because it would get stale. So you enter into a licensing agreement with a Japanese company that allows your licensee to manufacture coffee-flavored popcorn using your special process and to sell it in Japan under your brand name. In exchange, the Japanese licensee would pay you a royalty fee.
Licensing essentially permits a company in the target country to use the property of the licensor. Such property is usually intangible, such as trademarks, patents, and production techniques. The licensee pays a fee in exchange for the rights to use the intangible property and possibly for technical assistance as well.
Because little investment on the part of the licensor is required, licensing has the potential to provide a very large return on investment. However, because the licensee produces and markets the product, potential returns from manufacturing and marketing activities may be lost. Thus, licensing reduces cost and involves limited risk. However, it does not mitigate the substantial disadvantages associated with operating from a distance. As a rule, licensing strategies inhibit control and produce only moderate returns.
Contract Manufacturing and Outsourcing
Because of high domestic labor costs, many U.S. companies manufacture their products in countries where labor costs are lower. This arrangement is called international contract manufacturing or outsourcing. A U.S. company might contract with a local company in a foreign country to manufacture one of its products. It will, however, retain control of product design and development and put its own label on the finished product. Contract manufacturing is quite common in the U.S. apparel business, with most American brands being made in a number of Asian countries, including China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India.
Thanks to twenty-first-century information technology, nonmanufacturing functions can also be outsourced to nations with lower labor costs. U.S. companies increasingly draw on a vast supply of relatively inexpensive skilled labor to perform various business services, such as software development, accounting, and claims processing. For years, American insurance companies have processed much of their claims-related paperwork in Ireland. With a large, well-educated population with English language skills, India has become a center for software development and customer-call centers for American companies.
Partnerships and Strategic Alliances
Another way to enter a new market is through a strategic alliance with a local partner. A strategic alliance involves a contractual agreement between two or more enterprises stipulating that the involved parties will cooperate in a certain way for a certain time to achieve a common purpose. To determine if the alliance approach is suitable for the firm, the firm must decide what value the partner could bring to the venture in terms of both tangible and intangible aspects. The advantages of partnering with a local firm are that the local firm likely understands the local culture, market, and ways of doing business better than an outside firm. Partners are especially valuable if they have a recognized, reputable brand name in the country or have existing relationships with customers that the firm might want to access. For example, Cisco formed a strategic alliance with Fujitsu to develop routers for Japan. In the alliance, Cisco decided to co-brand with the Fujitsu name so that it could leverage Fujitsu’s reputation in Japan for IT equipment and solutions while still retaining the Cisco name to benefit from Cisco’s global reputation for switches and routers. Similarly, Xerox launched signed strategic alliances to grow sales in emerging markets such as Central and Eastern Europe, India, and Brazil.
Strategic alliances and joint ventures have become increasingly popular in recent years. They allow companies to share the risks and resources required to enter international markets. And although returns also may have to be shared, they give a company a degree of flexibility not afforded by going it alone through direct investment.
There are several motivations for companies to consider a partnership as they expand globally, including (a) facilitating market entry, (b) risk and reward sharing, (c) technology sharing, (d) joint product development, and (e) conforming to government regulations. Other benefits include political connections and distribution channel access that may depend on relationships.
Such alliances often are favorable when (a) the partners’ strategic goals converge while their competitive goals diverge; (b) the partners’ size, market power, and resources are small compared to the industry leaders; and (c) partners are able to learn from one another while limiting access to their own proprietary skills.
What if a company wants to do business in a foreign country but lacks the expertise or resources? Or what if the target nation’s government doesn’t allow foreign companies to operate within its borders unless it has a local partner? In these cases, a firm might enter into a strategic alliance with a local company or even with the government itself. A strategic alliance is an agreement between two companies (or a company and a nation) to pool resources in order to achieve business goals that benefit both partners. For example, Viacom (a leading global media company) has a strategic alliance with Beijing Television to produce Chinese-language music and entertainment programming.
An alliance can serve a number of purposes:
- Enhancing marketing efforts
- Building sales and market share
- Improving products
- Reducing production and distribution costs
- Sharing technology
An acquisition is a transaction in which a firm gains control of another firm by purchasing its stock, exchanging the stock for its own, or, in the case of a private firm, paying the owners a purchase price. In our increasingly flat world, cross-border acquisitions have risen dramatically. In recent years, cross-border acquisitions have made up over 60 percent of all acquisitions completed worldwide. Acquisitions are appealing because they give the company quick, established access to a new market. However, they are expensive, which in the past had put them out of reach as a strategy for companies in the undeveloped world to pursue. What has changed over the years is the strength of different currencies. The higher interest rates in developing nations has strengthened their currencies relative to the dollar or euro. If the acquiring firm is in a country with a strong currency, the acquisition is comparatively cheaper to make. As Wharton professor Lawrence G. Hrebiniak explains, “Mergers fail because people pay too much of a premium. If your currency is strong, you can get a bargain.
Foreign Direct Investment and Subsidiaries
Many of the approaches to global expansion that we’ve discussed so far allow companies to participate in international markets without investing in foreign plants and facilities. As markets expand, however, a firm might decide to enhance its competitive advantage by making a direct investment in operations conducted in another country.
Also known as foreign direct investment (FDI), acquisitions and greenfield start-ups involve the direct ownership of facilities in the target country and, therefore, the transfer of resources including capital, technology, and personnel. Direct ownership provides a high degree of control in the operations and the ability to better know the consumers and competitive environment. However, it requires a high level of resources and a high degree of commitment.