The way consumers get information about brands, products and services is shifting online at a dramatic rate. By 2016, more consumers will be making purchasing decisions online than through more traditional means. At yesterday's International Business Council (IBC) breakfast, we heard from a panel of experts about using digital tools to market and sell internationally.
According to Dan Alpert, vice president and client partner at Razorfish, digital marketing is still a fairly new field, having earned a seat at the table with traditional marketing methods just in the past decade or so. This movement has been primarily driven by consumer demand, as more and more customers find and interact with their favorite brands through websites and social media. Successful digital brands, such as Google and Pinterest, create relevant, fresh and immersive experiences for customers.
Digital content is the fastest-growing consumption category of media in the U.S. today, and 88 percent of consumers research products online before making purchases, according to Philip Dobbs, chief marketing officer of U.S. and Canada Consumer Tire Business for Bridgestone. Companies looking to expand their digital marketing reach should consider factors such as consistency of the brand experience across multiple channels.
John Aron, president and CEO of The Pasta Shoppe, spoke about his personal experiences of shifting from a traditional manufacturing/retail business model to a direct-to-consumer model, using web-based sales. Currently, more than 75 percent of the company's sales are online. Consumer demographics and buying habits are especially relevant for companies considering expanding into international markets, and web analytics can take that knowledge to a deeper level. For example, though it may seem counterintuitive, many Japanese people celebrate American holidays. Aron said Japan has been a very successful market for The Pasta Shoppe because Japanese customers buy the specially shaped pastas commemorating holidays such as Halloween and Christmas. The company also sells smaller packages of pasta aimed at the buying habits of Japanese consumers.
Panelist Bobby Frank is CEO of BorderJump, an e-commerce platform that helps U.S. companies sell internationally by processing transactions in a variety of currencies and calculating duties, taxes and other fees in real time. When selling online in international markets, Frank said, the key to success is to get as local as possible -- for example, provide country-specific landing pages and offer your site content in multiple languages. Credit card usage is less common in some other countries than it is in the U.S., so be prepared to accept other forms of payment as well. In addition, pay attention to where the U.S. dollar is weaker or stronger versus foreign currencies and use that information to target marketing efforts.
Dan Alpert, vice president and client partner at Razorfish, was one of the guest panelists at the International Business Council Breakfast on Sept. 5. Other panelists were Philip Dobbs, chief marketing officer of U.S. and Canada Consumer Tire Business for Bridgestone; John Aron, president and CEO of The Pasta Shoppe; and Bobby Frank, CEO of BorderJump.