Foreign trade and the new consumer

Barely was the metaphorical ink dry on my piece about businesses in Central Europe struggling to remain viable in the vital international marketplace, when I caught this pod-cast by Phil Dobbie a Brit exiled in Oz, who I don’t know and who is not related to me, but who I find, talks a lot of sense.

Although its a far more mature market, Australia shares one critical trait with some of the emerging new Central European markets – they don’t have a lot of people!  As Phil and his panel of experts agree in this broadcast, no business in any country can afford to focus exclusively on their domestic customers and when your population is fifteen million or less, if you do so you don’t have much scope.

They recognise that smaller economies have tended to exacerbate their problems by making it difficult for foreign experts to operate and by resisting their advice, something that I often see in the Central European markets, especially the Czech Republic.  I have noted lately that the organisations that seek advice from people like me are more often foreign-owned or managed businesses themselves, while Czech organisations stick with Czech advisers, which rarely gives them the perspective they need.

In my earlier piece I also introduce a new consumer with new priorities and suggest that the businesses that emerge from the current financial downturn a success will be those that recognise this critical change and adjust their strategy accordingly.  Every organisation, big and small,wherever they may be, is in the same boat, but there are valuable and very real opportunities for everyone and there’ll be no excuses afterwards for those who fail. 

This point was echoed this week by Lee Scott the outgoing Walmart CEO at the National Retail Federation in New York who told the audience that young customers in particular have adopted a new ethic.  They’ll buy what they need, think more carefully about purchases, avoid unessentials, pay cash and avoid credit.  Its going to be back to the drawing board for customer-facing organisations whose sales rely heavily on credit and I doubt the plethora of products that we have seen over the last few years, that are unessential, impractical or fail to deliver on any level, will survive.  Glad you bought that lava-lamp now aren’t you? 

The good news is that I believe that service will come back into fashion.  Not the service that so many retailers advertise these days, which amounts to no more than a spotty youth with a badge to confirm that he spent half a day on a product knowledge course that covered little more than how to switch the product on, but real service, from responsible people with a depth of knowledge and understanding of their product and a determination to serve their customer.

So, how is your organisation going to service the new consumer, at home or abroad?

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3 responses to “Foreign trade and the new consumer

  1. I am placing this comment because I have read a lot of articles online and yours was one of the best and most informative I have read in a while. Thank you! Hardaway Press 7 Surefire Ways To Increase Your Traffic Starting Yesterday Internet. Business. Profit. To fully integrate all of these words into a successful merging you will need another word. Traffic. Every article you will find about making your site or company successful would always include the importance of generating traffic. So, we all know that in the core of it all, traffic is the most essential thing to a successful internet based business company. Aside from ensuring that you have a great product to sell, and you have your company’s internal organization well taken core of, it would be time to get to the nitty gritty of things, generating traffic. If you already have a site and you want think that you’re not getting the traffic that you’re supposed to be getting, then its time to reconsider. If you are contending in these very competitive business, you should always be a step ahead of your competition, increasing your traffic flow should have been done starting yesterday. Timing is essential, that’s an old adage known to everyone. But with generating traffic, you should always be on your toes and be a day ahead of everyone. Never think of today and tomorrow as a starting point for making your site traffic laden, it should always have been yesterday. To help you out in generating more traffic for your site, here are some seven surefire ways to increase your traffic starting from yesterday. 1) Invest in good advertising with search engines Google’s Adwords and Yahoo’s Overture provide great advertising schemes that are very truly popular and assures great traffic. Although with this surefire way to increase your traffic would cost some money. While some would shy away from spending money to increase traffic, it is imperative in this case to do so because Adwords and Overture is the top surefire way to increase your traffic. You could see for yourself the success this search engine advertising methods have reaped rewards for so many companies. Lots of site feature these advertising system and many have signed on to reap the benefits. Do not be left behind. Every penny is worth it with using Google and Yahoo’s advertising. 2) Exchange or Trade Links with other sites With exchanging links with other sites, both of you will benefit from the efforts both of you do to enhance your sites traffic. When one site features another sites link, they could provide one another with the traffic one site generates. The efforts are doubly beneficial because it would seem like both of you are working to generate more traffic. The more links traded with more sites the more traffic could be expected. 3) Use Viral Marketing Viral marketing allows you to spread the word about your company and product without any costs or if ever low costs only. This is a marketing method that can be quite sneaky; you can attach your company’s name, product or link to a certain media such as a funny video, entertaining game, an interesting article or a gossip or buzz. With this method, people get infected with the creativity and entertainment of the medium that they will pass it on to many people. 4) Search and use proper keywords or keyword phrases for your sites content Search engines look for certain keywords that they would show in their results page. In doing so, having the right keyword and keyword phrase is a high requirement in ranking in high in search engine results. You could write your own content or you could hire someone to do it for you. 5) Write Articles that can lead traffic to your site Submit articles to sites that would contain the same subject that your site deals in. If you sell car parts write press releases and articles about cars and car parts. Attach your sites description and services at the end of the article as well as the link. 6) Join forums and form online communities Capture a market and show your expertise and credibility. When you found a good foundation for your site, people will trust you and your site and will pass on to many people their trust. Traffic will certainly increase because they know that you can provide what they need. 7) Lastly, Offer newsletters. If many people know what you are about and your existence is shared with many others, you will find a loyal traffic that can provide you with more traffic by recommendation. If you arouse the curiosity of your customers they would be pushed to help you with your traffic. –Hardaway Press

  2. I haven’t read any of your earlier posts, but my questions is: do you think product variety will suffer as a result of this trend? Since the new consumer is more focused on the essentials, will that make a lot of products obsolete?

  3. My belief is that frivolous products and product groups will come under pressure, so, in that way, existing choices will be forced out of the market.

    This doesn’t preclude new products arriving within “valued” groups though. However, more demanding customers will ensure that those offerings will have to deliver on a new level.

    I think there will be fewer opportunities to sell poorly conceived products, quick-buck-generators and products of poor quality and the additional impact of environment sensitivity may weigh heavily on manufacturers of disposable products too.

    Products that look great, but perform badly or have no practical value will also struggle for justification. We may also discover that consumers will equate product cost to longevity and attached lesser importance to the esthetic. I already see businesses wrestling with the demand by consumers in emerging markets that “expensive” products should perform better, be more robust and last longer. These customers are less inclined to accept that sometimes expensive things are expensive because they are finer and therefore require greater care.

    The bottom line is that quality will increasingly ace fashion and price in the value equation.

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