At Asia Society New York on Tuesday evening, former Under Secretary of Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce Frank Lavin gave listeners a crash course in globalizing any business, regardless of size. Drawing equally on his extensive experience in Asia and on his recent book Export Now: Five Keys to Entering New Markets, Lavin offered what he called a handful of "real-world" recommendations for any company looking to scale up and access new markets.
According to Lavin, a common reason many companies fail in new markets is that they simply don't "pick the right country." As he sees it, "proximity and like markets" are two critical factors in selecting a host country. Lavin cited Singapore and Hong Kong as prime export markets.
The former Commerce Department official also emphasized the importance of "maintaining brand integrity" and warned companies to steer away from strategies that involve "brand dilution for the sake of more customers or sales." For companies looking to penetrate emerging markets like China, where violations of intellectual property rights are widespread, Lavin suggested that "the best defense is a good offense." He also recommended an "aggressive" distribution strategy in emerging economies, because as consumers become better educated and more affluent, they become less sensitive to price and more sensitive to quality.
Finally, Lavin told his audience, a critical yet perhaps undervalued lesson is to understand both U.S. laws and host country parameters, as well as to institute company policies for preventing unchecked misconduct in business.
Video: Frank Lavin's tips for "going global" (11 min., 23 sec.)
Diana Choi, Stella Guan and Jeff Tompkins contributed to this report.