As we move forward into 2018, consumer behavior continues to change rapidly with new technologies. We are surrounded by touch-enabled and voice-enabled devices, all of which aim to give consumers the information they want when they want it. This created an expectation of instant and personalized experiences. Therefore, advertisers and their technology partners need to stay ahead of the demands to make content increasingly personalized and authentic. To meet this need, their global product support teams need to regroup, go back to basics and revamp their approach to market before 2018.
For more than a decade, I led product teams that launched impactful, personalized strategies in global markets. Our company’s global team listens to the nuances of each region in which we operate, including North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia-Pacific. (APAC). To maintain this awareness, my team relies on the techniques below to keep our product strategies accurate and relevant:
1. Go back to basics.
As businesses face global expansion, they may find themselves caught up in the confusion of diverse market demands. Maybe their products don’t have the right local appeal or don’t meet the proper regional regulations, such as EU regulations. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This can lead to both time-consuming and costly conflicts. Sometimes the best method is to go back to basics and see where you might need to update your approach. Sit down with your team and brainstorm three key questions per marketplace: Who is the customer? What’s the problem? How do they buy? While this may seem like a simplistic tactic, identifying solid answers to these questions will help you gauge your current approach.
For example, if you are familiar with APAC markets, you know that what works in Japan will not necessarily work for customers in Australia. There are a variety of preferred cultures and platforms, which is why our company takes a localized approach to this region, from product features to marketing.
By assessing the three key questions above, we found that confidentiality was the main motivating factor for How? ‘Or’ What consumers made purchases. As a result, we conducted a multi-month privacy assessment for the entire region. We looked at each country separately as well as in the broader context of the APAC region. This revealed which markets had strong, standardized privacy policies and which ones we needed to approach more cautiously. This gave us a clearer understanding of how privacy in each region affected how consumers shopped and, therefore, how we could most effectively connect with them.
2. Know your limits.
An important skill that product teams need to develop is the power to recognize limitations. After asking the Who, What and How? ‘Or’ What questions, it’s time to recognize that you may not know the answers and start working on how to fill the gaps in your strategy. Be humble and honest about the reach of your product. Being able to admit “we don’t know yet” as a team is often more powerful than false confidence. This allows your team to recognize the current state of your abilities and work from there.
As mentioned earlier, consumer behavior changes rapidly based on new technologies and regional trends. A strategy that may have worked a year ago probably won’t work in some markets the next year, so be honest about what you haven’t yet learned about a new technology or market. For example, we have always had a global perspective when thinking about products. Knowing our limits and addressing them quickly has become an even more important trait since acquiring. This challenged us to think more broadly about our capabilities and to be more in tune with regions such as South East Asia and Europe, where the company that acquired us has high visibility.
2. One size does not fit all.
At this point in the global product development process, we have identified the nuances of our customers and their target audience, as well as the limitations or necessary advancements in our product. Now we need to think about how we are going to bring this product to market(s).
Sit down with your product, marketing, and sales teams to determine answers to a new set of who, what and How? ‘Or’ What questions: who do we sell to? What do we sell? How do we sell it? For example, imagine you are a US-based company looking to expand into the EMEA region. You have thoroughly answered the questions for the US market, but answering them for the EMEA market will be very different as there are privacy considerations such as GDPR, translation and language techniques, etc. Ask your team to think globally in terms of broader innovations and trends. , but act locally according to specific market needs and consumer behavior.
As 2017 draws to a close and we enter 2018, teams need to take the time to fully debrief, shift strategy, and define a successful overall approach for their business and its customers. Our rapidly changing world will continue to change the way consumers interact with brands as well as the way marketers connect with consumers in authentic and humanistic ways. This will undoubtedly leave room for convoluted challenges and new developments in marketing technologies, but those who master the fundamentals, learn from what they don’t know, and create personalized approaches will surely be ahead of the game.