As exporting to EU countries has raised question marks with some UK companies in the ‘post-Brexit era’, looking towards the Commonwealth countries as a potential target market is becoming more and more appealing. This subject was a focal point of the first-ever ‘Today’s Commonwealth: Exploring export opportunities’ conference, held by the Birmingham Commonwealth Association last week in the heart of the city – Victoria Square’s Council House.
The hall, filled with foreign dignitaries, well-recognised figures in the Midlands’ business arena and export professionals, was oozing with energy and the spirit of entrepreneurship. The ultimate aim that shone through the keynote speeches and panel discussions was to define the best strategies to promote exports to the Commonwealth and beyond, while highlighting the many opportunities lying in specific sectors in countries such as Uganda, India, Nigeria or Jamaica. These points were also intensely discussed behind the scenes as the conference provided ample scope for networking.
From an economic perspective, with the cost of market entry being some 15 % lower than in other parts of the globe, exporting to the Commonwealth makes perfect sense for SMEs. Of course your product or service might be more in demand elsewhere in the world, but it’s an additional avenue worth exploring.
What about the language barrier?
While we tend to think English is a first or second language within the Commonwealth, this does not hold true in many respects. Let’s take the aforementioned India for instance, with its urban middle class growing rapidly from some 50 million people today to the predicted 200 million by 2020 (think of the purchasing power!). Notwithstanding the strong historic ties between the UK and the subcontinent, India has a distinct culture and languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Urdu prevail. When planning to enter a new country, British marketeers should ask themselves simple questions to qualify the need for translation, such as: Would I buy this car based solely on the brand name and price, without understanding any features or specifications (as they were provided in Chinese, for example)? Is this seller respecting my identity as a national of country X?
As this year’s conference was designed to give businesses merely a roadmap to optimising opportunities within the Commonwealth, the decision to venture there should follow careful analysis and research. Bodies like the Department for International Trade or the West Midlands Engine, to name a few, are just two sources of support and information you can readily tap into.
Comtec is here to guide you and help you avoid any linguistic pitfalls while trying to launch sales in overseas markets. If that’s something you are considering and would like some advice on how to get started, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0) 1926 335 681.