Canadian companies have always considered the U.S. as the next logical destination to expand into, but with changing trade regulations and international relationships, Europe should also be viewed as a market that Canadian companies must immediately consider.
While planning your business’ strategic growth, incorporating expansion into Europe can bring about great returns and exposure. While it can be easy to think of Europe as ‘too-far’ or ‘risky’ the truth is that there are many ways Canadian companies can conquer the European market space.
The first thing to understand that not all foreign expansion is the same, expanding into Europe is not the same as expanding into the U.S. but that does not mean it is impossible or even that it is a lot more challenging. The CETA (The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is a new trade agreement between the EU and Canada. It cuts tariffs and makes it easier to export goods and services, benefiting everyone involved.
Proponents of CETA emphasize that the agreement will boost trade between the EU and Canada and thus create new jobs, facilitate business operations by abolishing customs duties, goods checks, and various other levies, facilitate mutual recognition of diplomas and regulate investment disputes by creating a new system of courts.
Many big businesses have already praised CETA and said it has made it easier for Canadians to do business with 28 member countries that have agreed to it. To expand into Europe a Canadian business should first be able to analyse the opportunity and make decisions.
Europeans consider Canadian and US products to be good quality, this means that they are more likely to buy a brand they know is from this part of the world. Brand awareness and customer acquisition may not be as hard as you may think it is. Europeans are extremely brand conscious and will leap at a chance to own brands that are popular in Canada and the U.S.
However, it is important to start with a country where your business is likely to flourish. Finding a target market country first can make it easier to expand into other countries. Language can sometimes be a problem since many European countries don’t talk English or use it in their products. Some big companies said they started off with the U.K before expanding into other European countries.
Another way to enter European markets is through reputed e-commerce sites and portals that the target market already uses. Europeans buy a lot of things online, so reaching them through e-commerce sites instead of brick and mortar stores can actually be a great way to tap into customers.
Finding European partners for expanding can also be a great way to reach there. European markets are different from Canadian markets and having local partners for various needs of your business depending upon its nature, like using local packaging, distribution and marketing can all make it easier to connect with customers and also deal with the trade scenario there.
Having some European experts in your crew can make it easier to understand the various rules and regulations of the European country you are expanding into and can also help understand customer behaviour and preferences better.