Chloe Rigby considers the challenges and opportunities of building a brand across Europe
It’s a big task: to establish a retail brand across the 31 countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) – plus Switzerland. It’s one that means making shoppers aware both of a brand and of the reasons that they might buy from it. It means enabling those shoppers to buy in the way that best suits them, and it means talking to them in the languages they understand and want to use in the course of their purchase.
“IREU 500 retailers have most likely gained both brand awareness and customers at scale”
Yet, despite the size of the challenge, it’s one that’s likely to have been achieved by many of the retailers that feature in the IREU 500. Right now, they’re listed for the size of their retail footprint. But later this year InternetRetailing’s research team will be examining in detail which traders have best succeeded in understanding how customers in new markets want to shop and to engage. They’ll be working out which retailers have cracked the challenge of being found when shoppers are searching for the item they need, and which are familiar with the social media networks that are important for shoppers in each new market. Above all, it’ll be important to judge which merchants have made themselves most relevant in each market.
To be included in the IREU 500, retailers have most likely gained both brand awareness and customers at scale. Chances are this has involved an investment of time and resources that each retailer has considered well worth making. For while each individual country is home to thousands, if not millions, of active shoppers, the single European market as a whole is home to hundreds of millions of adults. This is one of the most economically mature regions of the world. The retailers that are developing the broad capabilities that make them capable of serving European markets have complex tasks ahead of them in the areas measured by the Brand and Engagement Performance Dimension.
InternetRetailing researchers are faced with their own challenges as they go about the task of assessing how European retailers measure up in this dimension. They’ll be considering how retailers choose to promote their brand across Europe. They’ll be asking questions around how traders are spreading the word about their brand, translating its values and meaning to new markets. They’ll assess the use of different social media networks in each market and whether and how retailers are employing local staff or expertise – and how much that matters. And they’ll be finding ways to measure customer engagement, which starts at the point that each shopper discovers the brand and continues well beyond the first purchase.
Through this study, it seems likely that our research team will discover what it takes to make retail work across borders – and whether the qualities that work well to raise brand awareness and engage customers in individual markets also function well within a Europe of different languages, currencies and attitudes to shopping, both online and off. We await these findings with interest – and look forward to seeing our assumptions challenged and learning from fresh insights into problems both old and new.