5 Ways to Make a Concept Work in an International Market

  • Here is some advice on where to start when bringing a concept to an international market for the first time.

    Slim Chickens

    It’s no secret that the international market is hot right now. But, what works in one country does not always translate to another. There is a big opportunity for domestic brands to bring their concept internationally. For franchisors that are exploring this option, the right amount of due diligence paired with local support, international development is definitely within reach.

    Find the Right Franchisee

    Do your due diligence and make sure you are picking the right franchisee partner. The franchisee needs to have the capability to take on the large feat that is bringing a national brand to an international market. They should have strong existing internal systems and an organized approach in order to take on the volumes of work and different disciplines within the organization and turn it into a viable business that will work well in a completely different market. Look for franchisees that have a professional background that matches the concept – whether QSR, fast casual or full-service. That way they can build on their existing portfolio with a new concept, but won’t be entering a world they are not familiar with.

    Research the Market and Its Capacity

    Does the market match the goals of both the company and the individual franchisee? How much of the food will have to be exported and what is in the market that can be locally sourced? Do due diligence on the market before committing to the area.

    Does the Menu Match the Local Taste?

    Specific countries have very restricted tasted profiles. In the Mid-East specifically there are restrictions on specific ingredients. In some countries, Mayonnaise tastes different than in other countries. Before bringing a concept internationally, decide if the recipes need to be altered. Flavor profiles are different and some countries prefer sweet, some salty. It’s an interesting game to play altering recipes – so try to find a happy medium. Alter some, but it’s okay to transport other items to make sure tastes are consistent.

    Stick to the Core Principals

    It’s so important to stick to core principals when bringing a concept internationally. International consumers want the American concept and they want that American experience. Just because a concept is going to an international market, there is no reason to change the core of the business to match the trends in the market. Keep core items the same, even if they have to be shipped internationally, and give the consumer the experience they ultimately want. But, that’s not to say that nothing can be changed. A bacon cheeseburger served in the Gulf will not be successful and it would make sense to serve turkey bacon instead of pork bacon. Make the determination of what should not change and what can be tweaked during the process, but make sure the concept ultimately stays the same.

    Find the Hot Real Estate Trends

    Every country is different when it comes to real estate. It’s important to decide where the most foot traffic is going to happen. In South Korea this might be on the fifth level of a building where as in America it is rare that anyone would ever go up five flights of stairs to dine. Find out where the customers are and set roots in this space. It might be hard to gauge what real estate trends are from across the world, so work with a local real estate broker and the local franchisee to understand the local market better. Boots on the ground is a tried and tested way to find the best real estate, and this doesn’t change when it comes to international development. On the corporate team, take the flight to the international market and better understand local customs. Visit the site consistently during the trip and determine if it’s a good fit for the brand.

    It can be nerve-wracking to take the leap to an unknown market across the globe, with little familiarity of local customs or trends. But, with due diligence and local support from the franchisee, international development can be a huge opportunity for a brand.

    Sam Rothschild, who graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island with a degree in culinary arts has gained a wealth of knowledge over the past 16 years holding executive operations and franchise development positions with franchise industry leaders including Metromedia Restaurant Group, Romacorp, Inc., Applebee’s International and Hooters of America. Rothschild came on board in October 2013 and now spearheads Slim Chickens’ operations and franchise development as Chief Operating Officer.
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