New exporters unprepared for culture shock

Businesses of all sizes launching into new markets often fail to make proper headway because they overemphasise the importance of their product to foreign consumers.

Having been in business since the age of 19, Anton Pemmer of Bottles of Australia thought he had quite a comprehensive understanding of business operations.

However, he openly admits that the biggest hurdle in taking his products into offshore markets has been understanding the vastly different needs and wants of consumers in other markets.

“One of the latest things that I heard recently was that there was no such thing as an export market. There’s really only somebody else’s domestic market. You have to think domestically if you want to step into that market, and not domestic Australian,” Anton explains on the My Business Podcast.

“If you’re going into the Indonesian market, you really need to understand the culture, you need to understand how does that country do business on a day-to-day basis.”

Bottles of Australia, which produces sports drink bottles, now exports to 22 countries around the world. Many are based in Asia, but the company also sells into Europe, India, Russia and the Americas.

With such varied experience, it is clear that Anton’s experience is invaluable to businesses with less exposure to international markets.

As an example of the role cultural differences play, Anton says that trust between a business and its customers, and particularly with suppliers and contractors, is very different in most Asian cultures to the Australian way of doing business.

“In Australia, when we start, we start with a full glass of trust, and we do business in a way. If a supplier or a customer does the wrong thing, then that glass of trust empties, but a lot of Asian markets actually start with an empty glass and you have to fill it full of trust,” says Anton.

“It’s a very different mindset when you have to build the trust with the customer before you’ve even done an ounce of business. When that trust comes, then so too will the orders. ”

Hear more words of wisdom from Anton on exporting, export finance and growing your distribution channels on the My Business Podcast below:

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