3 International marketing examples and strategies to grow your brand across borders

International marketing is the art of taking your product, service or even entire brand across the border and marketing it there successfully. This means adapting your marketing strategy and materials to new cultures, languages, and regulations. You’ll have to research how to connect with customers, what the competitive landscape looks like abroad and how you can adapt—while staying true to your brand.

Being a globetrotting brand poses a few different challenges compared to operating in just one country. There are cultural differences you need to understand and respect. From small customs to huge differences in meaning: it always helps to double-check with a local (or even better: survey hundreds of them!).

Then there are the regulations and logistical challenges, which are literal barriers of entry to many international marketing campaigns. And last but not least, customers might behave differently and make purchasing decisions a little differently in another country.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so strap in, and let’s go global.

What is international marketing?

When you’re taking your brand across borders, you will have to take another look at the conception, promotion and distribution of your products or services. Not just from a practical standpoint, but also to learn how to satisfy your long-distance customers.

You will have to research, analyze and adapt to cultural, linguistic, legal and regulatory differences while creating a marketing strategy that speaks to your audience. This is especially true following the death of third-party cookies, which makes it harder to access data for digital marketing campaigns.

Don’t assume that you can stick to the positioning you use in your home country, even if your target country isn’t a country far, far away. You’ll have to find your place in the market there and get to know your competitors. That might mean you’ll have to develop a whole new marketing mix—from a new pricing strategy, to different distribution channels.

Your product stays the same, but your promotion likely won’t. Even just the smallest nuances need to be looked at. For instance: an American marketer might look at Holland and Belgium and call them the same thing, where they largely even speak the same language.

But practically, there are in fact big differences in what words are used, how informal or formal customers expect brands to be, and more. Translating and copy-pasting your domestic marketing campaigns doesn’t work for global marketing.

You’ll have to start fresh and get a clear view of what’s trending in other markets, and how those markets have evolved.

Once you’ve got the data, it’s time to decide how you will enter that new territory.

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Here are some global marketing strategies to consider.


The most well-known global marketing and distribution strategy is export. Exporting is a way of tapping into new markets, without having to fully set up shop in those countries. You can simply make your products available for shipping abroad. You will still manufacture in your home country, but you will also market and sell them in other international markets.


Another way to go global without having to commit to a ton of investments upfront is by licensing.

With licensing, you sign an agreement between two parties, in which you grant the other party the right to use your product, technology, trademark or any other proprietary assets in exchange for royalties or fees.

The licensing agreement will outline all the terms and conditions under which the licensee, the other party, can use those licensed assets.

You won’t have to invest in new production facilities over there, or figure out the distribution networks that work best. You’ll basically work with a local company that has resources on the ground and will manufacture and/or distribute the product for you—while both of you benefit.

A good example of this is a deal between Nestlé and Starbucks. In 2018, they signed a licensing deal worth $7.15 billion. Now that’s a whole lot of frappuccinos! Nestlé got the exclusive rights to sell Starbucks products, like bagged beans, teas and single-serve coffee.

Nestlé, of course, has a huge global distribution network, so Starbucks can now drive brand recognition outside of North America and benefit from Nestle’s existing global marketing strategy. Starbucks reserves royalties from the sold products, and Nestlé benefits from Starbucks’ strong brand image.


Depending on the type of business you run, you might opt for franchising when going global. There are many big and small names who have done it. One of the most famous ones is McDonald’s.

Franchising is a type of business model where a company—the franchisor—will grant another company or individual—the franchisee—the right to use its brand, products, services and operating systems. Apart from ongoing royalties, the franchisee will also pay the franchisor an initial fee.

If you’ve ever wanted to start your own McDonald’s and have $500,000 in non-borrowed personal resources, you technically could.

The interesting part about franchising is that the franchisee benefits from the franchisor’s name, brand equity, global marketing strategy and can use the systems—and will get support, training and even logistics taken care of. They benefit from the expertise and the trust consumers may already have in a brand.

For the franchisor, it is a great way to conduct business in foreign countries and build brand awareness across national borders.

Franchising does only work for certain types of businesses. The concept of a franchizable business needs to be easily transferable to make such a business strategy work on the global market.


This one sounds the most fun, doesn’t it? Piggybacking in international marketing happens when a company uses the established distribution channels, marketing operations, established target audience, and reputation of another company to launch its own product or service into a new market overseas.

The company that does the piggybacking, saying the one on top, benefits from all the existing resources of the partner company in the target country. That saves money, time and minimizes risk.

A drawback is that the piggybacking company heavily relies on the partner company in the local market.

So while you benefit from the competitive advantage of the parent company, you will also put your reputation and brand image in their hands, which requires a strong partnership, a lot of trust and thorough vetting upfront.

Joint ventures

Last but not least, there’s the option of starting a joint venture with a partner company in a different country. This means you will literally join forces to achieve a common goal in a foreign market.

You will basically share the risk, the costs, but also the rewards. The smart thing to do in a joint venture here obviously is use each other’s strengths and supplement knowledge where needed.

You can partner up with local brands, international companies or international distributors, depending on what you need to get your business off the ground overseas.

How can you kick-start an international marketing strategy?

International marketing requires a lot of research. You don’t have to fly over there to get accurate data on what consumers want.

Get to know your target market

Before introducing yourself to them, learn about your new potential customers. Using surveys, you can get to know their specific pain points, likes and dislikes, and see how they are different from your home target market.

Based on this, you can begin to segment your future customers into different categories to later develop tailored marketing strategies for.

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Learn about your competitors

You will need to familiarize yourself with the competitive landscape in your new market with a thorough market analysis. Who are the main players, the rising stars, and the ones who fell from the top? What has happened in the market so far and how does it usually move?

It’s a foreign country, so don’t make any assumptions and do your research before making any big decisions. You will also have to gauge the size of the market and your potential share of that.

Test your ideas and global marketing strategies

Before launching an international marketing campaign, test how it lands with people in foreign markets. From language to visuals, people might react differently across international markets.

Using online surveys, you can back all of this up with data to make decisions with confidence and speed.

To help you get started with your international marketing research, check out our templates for market analysis, consumer profiling and market sizing that you can use to hit the ground running in other countries.

Examples of international marketing strategies in action

Many brands have done it before you. It’s entertaining to look at examples of brands that completely missed the mark with poorly translated campaigns, but let’s learn by looking at some examples of brands who did international marketing the right way.

Give it up for some of our customers who took the leap and went into global markets with success, but not before doing thorough international marketing research.

1. Baby Brezza

Baby Brezza reduced their time to international launch by 12 months (!), as they sought to enter a new category: diapering.

As the leading brand in baby feeding appliances, they were confident that their new product would be a success in the US, but they lacked expertise in the diapering category in other markets.

To gain a deeper understanding of these markets, Baby Brezza used Attest to survey mothers in France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Australia, Korea and Taiwan.

They collected data on the usage of diaper ointment and combined it with information such as the number of babies born in each market, to quantify the market opportunity and determine which countries to prioritize in their launch plans.

The research showed a particularly significant opportunity in Europe, which is even larger than the US market. With the data they have gathered, they don’t have to wait a couple of years like they usually do before launching internationally.

The specific market data for each country also helped Baby Brezza secure buy-in from global distributors, with four already on board.


International marketing research doesn’t just give you the confidence and data to make decisions, it also helps you accelerate processes. This can help you stay ahead of the competition and launch in new markets at exactly the right time.

A grey backpack full of Baby products

2. Givaudan

Givaudan needed consumer insights for specific markets to learn how they can provide additional added value, and ultimately win projects.

It is widely known that Chinese consumers are drawn to scientific ingredients… One surprising discovery we found among our various studies was that Chinese consumers were the ones claiming to buy the most organic or natural products. This felt more like the French or Brazilian profile, but actually Chinese consumers are buying these a lot.

Justine Catala, Consumer & Market Insights at Givaudan

Givaudan used our market analysis and category research tools to really listen to their target consumers in a foreign market. This helped them to both gain validation on their current ingredients and claims and unveil new trends to act upon and differentiate against the competition.

Key takeaway: Don’t make any assumptions about your target markets

Even small nuancesin consumer preferences can inspire big differences in marketing campaigns and sales tactics. Dive into each market individually to get the best results.

Givaudan used international market research to create successful skin products

3. Klarna

When launching in a new international market, Klarna uses agile research to make sure their messaging lands and converts. The brand is known for being a bit quirky, which makes it even more important to test their messaging in different settings for all their international marketing activities.

They regularly test communications and campaigns in different foreign markets using Attest. This helps them gather data that tests the effectiveness of their storytelling style in different languages, while staying true to their unique brand voice and personality.

It doesn’t only help them avoid PR disasters—it helps them thrive and work on a solid brand.


Thorough testing and really learning to understand what makes consumers in different markets tick helps Klarna to remain true to their unique tone of voice, while also building an international brand.

Woman holding a phone showing the Klarna app

What are the benefits of global marketing?

Not sure if you should take the leap? Here are some of the benefits of international marketing—when you’ve done your research of course.

  • You get access to a much larger market: an obvious one, but expanding into international markets means you can tap into a much larger customer base, potentially increasing your revenue and profits.
  • It opens up possibilities for diversification: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Going global could help you diversify, reducing the risks associated with relying on just a single market or region.
  • Launch new products: maybe you’ve been plotting a product that doesn’t test well in your current market, but would work great abroad.
  • Make use of economies of scale: yes, it requires big investments to get up and running, but we’re thinking long term. Operating globally can help you take advantage of economies of scale, reduce costs and increase efficiency.
  • Easy access to new resources and technologies: you’re not just putting something into those new markets, you can also take something from them. Being on the ground in different countries can help you get easier access to new technologies, resources or partnerships.
  • Expanding your cultural understanding can strengthen customer relationships: doing a deep dive into a new target market doesn’t just help you connect with them, it can also boost connections with existing target groups, by gathering new eye-opening insights or seeing special differences between markets.

How to make global marketing decisions

We’ll send you on your way with some top tips and best practices to make your international marketing a massive success.

Choose the right marketing channels

From choosing the right platform for your online marketplace, to picking the most popular social media platforms: don’t assume TikTok is big everywhere.

Research and then select the marketing channels that are most effective in reaching your target audience in the specific country.

Team up with local companies

You don’t have to do it alone. Don’t just look at big names and multinational enterprises, find local companies.

Collaborating with local companies can help you gain a better understanding of the market, identify opportunities and overcome challenges.

Hire marketing experts that know the market and minimize friction in building international marketing strategies.

Make data-driven decisions

We’ll keep saying it: guesswork isn’t necessary, in fact it can be dangerous. Make marketing decisions based on reliable and recent consumer data to ensure your efforts are impactful and cost-effective.

Monitor and evaluate constantly

Here comes the challenging part: you will have to keep track of what is happening in ALL the markets you are active in.

Set up as much automation as you can and have regular check-in moments to see if your strategy is still on the right path.

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Nick White

Customer Research Lead 

Nick joined Attest in 2021, with more than 10 years' experience in market research and consumer insights on both agency and brand sides. As part of the Customer Research Team team, Nick takes a hands-on role supporting customers uncover insights and opportunities for growth.

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