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  • Writer's picturePharmilab

International retail - How to be prepared

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Many companies want to sell their products to different countries expanding their brand to new markets. In addition to physical barriers, there are many others such as regulatory and cultural. It is necessary to study the markets carefully in order to choose the best partners and channels in order to guarantee an adequate positioning and commercial success.

Considering the many important aspects for companies to prepare to operate in international markets, we highlight the top 3 most common mistakes made and what to do to avoid them. We believe it is also important to understand what are the main expectations of foreign buyers and how to prepare to sell their products outside their domestic market.


The world has gone through many transformations and beauty retail as well. The digital acceleration brought about by the pandemic helped to reduce friction and resistance to buying products without having physical contact.

In 2020 we saw the great boom of digital commerce and the strengthening of applications to test products. Both brands and retailers have had to rush to develop their online sales channels and save their business by strengthening their connections with their consumers. Shopping journeys were rethought and consumer interests were transformed, new demands for products and ingredients also emerged.

In 2021, with the vaccination, the end of the roadblocks and the opening of commerce and stores to the public, we are witnessing the moment of reinvention of physical retail, which innovates its spaces to offer consumers safer experiences and interaction. The change in the world was relentless, but the new adaptations are still ongoing.

The changes brought about by the pandemic have increased our use of digital channels, but we are still human beings and we value physical interaction, contact with other people. It is natural from now on to find digital experiences in physical stores and a new use of retail spaces. Smaller stores and points in stores to pick up products purchased on the internet are already a reality.

What consumers want?

Consumers are very aware of the impacts that products have on the environment and are concerned about choosing cosmetics that are aligned with their values ​​and that still fit in their pockets. Sustainable credentials have been elevated to a new level and the social role of brands is being heavily scrutinized by consumers.

In terms of products, there is a consumer interest in MFPs and a great concern with efficiency. The entire current crisis has reduced the risk appetite of consumers who seek greater safety in consumption. The market has become more competitive and the challenges to meet the demands are great for brands and retailers.

There was a growth of DIY products - Do it yourself and physical retail became a space for experiences and entertainment. Despite the transformations, it is expected that consumers visit stores now in search of leisure and desire digital interaction in physical stores. Augmented reality apps and interactions

Most common errors of brands in internationalization

In the international market, we observed that many brands initially overestimated their internationalization and took a long time to overcome this barrier of fear of launching their products in other countries. However, when the opportunity to export arises, whether through a business or even because of a company's need for growth, the approach to the target market becomes underestimated.

Thus, the main mistake of many brands is not planning to enter the market and not researching and understanding this market. And so, for not having the correct vision, they prepare poorly for entry, and fail to choose the best products and even strengthen their position.

Selling in international markets requires a lot of knowledge and study to create a good market strategy. It is important to dedicate time and surround yourself with competent professionals who can help the company to strengthen its weaknesses and turn challenges into opportunities.

The second most common mistake brands make is mistaking the retailer or distributor as their customer. Retailers and distributors are sales channels, the customer remains the end consumer even if the sale is not made directly to him. Brands must stay close to their consumers; interacting and learning from it.

A major success factor that buyers see in brands is their interaction with consumers and this is as important an aspect as having an innovative product. Indies brands are very good at this and without a doubt it is very important, especially for independent brands or even with little time in the market, they are very connected to their consumers.

The third main mistake is the cultural disconnect that many brands adopt without realizing it. For so many years operating in their domestic markets, many brands distance themselves from their cultural identity, from valuing their origin, region, assets and even colors, art and even crafts. In the international market, brands are expected to show personality and be sure of their values, who they are and why they are unique.

How to succeed in international markets

The best way to make your internationalization journey successful is to prepare well for it. Internationalizing is very different from exporting. While exports are more objectively related to sales, internationalization is concerned with before the sale, during and after. As important as selling in this new market is to continue selling and make the brand and its products recognized and admired by these new consumers

We can then conclude that internationalization is strongly linked to the brand's strategy and intention to remain in this market for a long time. A good strategy can save a lot of unnecessary investment and contribute to making the product's entry into the market safer and faster.

Every good strategy must be followed by good planning and this is essential to ensure the success of the operation. Many adaptations and adjustments will be needed throughout each step and it will be important to learn from the market and make adjustments

A very important point in building the commercial strategy is to present to buyers in addition to your product and differentiation aspects, how your marketing strategy and plan will be, showing how the brand will act with end consumers, how it will launch and also a vision of how it intends to act in the next 6 months.

Finally, it is essential to build relationships with potential buyers and get feedback on your products and your business strategy. We should not forget that buyers know the strategies of many brands similar to yours and know what works best in that retail store and thus can signal very important information to have a greater chance of success in that operation.

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