4 Inspiring international growth strategy success stories

By Acclaro
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Growth strategy examples

There are countless cautionary tales of failed international expansions. 

Notable examples: Walmart in Germany, Starbucks in Israel, and Home Depot in China.  

These examples illustrate how baffling and difficult it can be to know how, when and where to grow your business internationally, and how challenging it is to get it right. Global expansion is costly, complex, time-consuming and full of risk. But for many enterprises, overseas markets are the absolute best chance for growth. 

In a companion blog post we shared the two best strategies for global growth: market development (i.e., new market, existing product) and diversification (i.e., new product, new market). 

In this blog post we’ll share some examples of businesses that have successfully grown internationally. 

Real-world strategies for international growth

There are plenty of strategies to expand internationally that fall under market development and diversification. The companies we profile below used several growth strategies, including:

  • Product development – adapting and/or building different products for the new market
  • Market disruption – identifying market opportunities before anyone else; being the first
  • Acquisition – purchasing a company that already does business in the target market
  • Partnership – establishing agreements with another business that already has customers in the new market, enabling business expansion for both

Let’s take a closer look.

Meta: Using market penetration, product development, and differentiation

Meta Platforms, Inc. owns and operates Facebook, Instagram, Threads and WhatsApp, among other products and services. In October 2021, Facebook rebranded itself as “Meta” to reflect its new focus on building the metaverse. Here’s how they are a quintessential example of international growth. 

Meta has a long history of using market penetration strategies to expand, such as introducing new products and features in new markets. For example, Facebook released new features to boost engagement such as Reels for Groups, expanded group admin features and added Instagram integrations

Facebook also released a new text-based social network app called Threads to compete with Twitter and Mastodon. You can read about new Facebook features and products aimed at growing market share in this HootSuite Social Media Update

Meta also has brought existing products into new markets and bought products that are already being used in foreign markets. For example, they acquired WhatsApp and Instagram to diversify and expand internationally.

Another savvy expansion strategy: strong leadership that drives international growth. Javier Olivan, who has replaced Sheryl Sandberg as chief operating officer, built his career on international expansion. His first job at the company was as head of international growth. 

And their strategy has worked: over 91% of Facebook users now come from outside the U.S. and Canada.

Klarna: Expanding through market disruption and acquisition

Klarna is a global payments and shopping service based in Sweden. Their product lets customers pay in installments for things they purchase online. These kinds of installment plans are a relatively new phenomenon: Klarna is an early entrant (i.e., disruptor) in the online payments industry and is ahead of the competition in many markets. 

In addition, Klarna has expanded globally by acquiring new retailers. Klarna acquired HERO, a social shopping platform designed to provide customers with inspiration, advice and instant access to products available from retailers’ physical stores

Klarna also acquired APPRL, a SaaS platform that enables content creators and retailers to work together to bring immersive and informative “shoppable content” to global customers. Per the Klarna website, “Klarna is a global growth partner for its 250,000+ retailers, constantly expanding the suite of tools they can leverage to engage with consumers in dynamic ways.” 

Klarna’s ambitious global expansion means it now offers sustainable payments in 20 countries. They scaled to 5 new markets in 2021 alone: France, New Zealand, Poland, Ireland and Portugal. 

Spotify and Starbucks: Forging a strategic alliance for mutual business growth

Starbucks, a global powerhouse with 35,811 stores worldwide in 2022, has a presence in 80 countries around the globe.  

Spotify, a media streaming marketplace that provides personalized digital music services for users and creators worldwide, operates in 92 markets globally, owns 36% of global market share, and is ranked the top 100 most valuable global brands

The Starbucks/Spotify partnership, announced in May 2015, allows users to earn Starbucks rewards points by using the Spotify app. It also allows Starbucks customers to influence in-store playlists, where Spotify Premium is promoted. Starbucks employees get a free Spotify premium subscription and can use it to generate Spotify playlists from 20 years of Starbucks music picks.  

It’s a symbiosis that drives global growth: each business leverages the global customers of the other and the partnership helps keep both brands relevant and visible. Each company enhances the other’s offering and drives revenue for both. 

Microsoft: Strategic product development, acquisition and market penetration

Microsoft has a presence in over 190 countries. Their biggest products worldwide are the Windows operating systems, the Microsoft 365 suite of productivity tools, Azure and Internet Explorer and Edge. 

Market penetration has been a long-term strategy for Microsoft, which involves increasing product sales in the markets where the company currently has operations. For example, Microsoft has stepped up its marketing and sales in its current markets in Asia, which is responsible for Microsoft’s global dominance in the IBM PC-compatible operating system market. 

Also, Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn capitalizes on LinkedIn’s huge-and-growing network of 433 million worldwide users.  Micoroft also plans to integrate LinkedIn technology into its software to provide users with a supreme professional experience.  

But Microsoft Azure is currently the engine of Microsoft’s revenue growth. Microsoft’s revenue increased by $30.2 billion in 2022; of that, $13.5 billion was from Azure. Through Azure, Microsoft is offering SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS services.

Fun fact: Microsoft wasn’t successful at first with product development plays. They initially planned growth by entering the global smartphone market, but it was a flop, and they conceded to competitors in 2019. One source says the teams couldn’t keep up with Android and IOS’s mobile platform innovations while working on their other initiatives. So, instead, Microsoft focused its investments on cloud technology and AI and became a major cloud leader globally. 

Various approaches drive successful global growth 

There are a variety of different strategies that organizations can leverage to pursue significant global growth and become international growth success stories. Some companies grow by product development or further differentiating their products in ways specific to the new market, others by disrupting an existing market and still others by partnering with, acquiring or merging with competitors or similar companies. 

For companies pursuing global expansion into new international markets, these strategies – combined with comprehensive localization strategies – propel and facilitate global success. 

Next steps

If you’re a global business employing tactics like these to grow your business, then you are well on your way to international success. But even though you may have the right product and the right partners, your success will be limited without translation and localization. 

At Acclaro, we simplify these concepts for you and enable you to scale growth and create lasting value for your customers through language and engineering. We’ve created strategies that help the world’s leading companies succeed across markets, and we’re ready to help you create yours so you can be the next international growth success story. 

Want to learn more about how Acclaro can help you achieve your business goals? Get started today.

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