Exporting to mature markets: a USP and Swissness are important
A large proportion of Swiss exports are sold to mature markets. Accordingly, mature markets are important for SMEs. However, these markets are noticeably saturated. How do you succeed in exporting products and services to mature markets despite this?
Exports from Switzerland go mostly to mature markets
Mature markets are of central importance when exporting from Switzerland. Almost half of all exports go to the EU. The US follows in second place. "Just the two German states that share a border with Switzerland, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, import twice as many Swiss products as China," says Credit Suisse economist Sascha Jucker, stressing the importance of mature markets. These markets are highly developed and have high purchasing power. The cultural and sometimes geographical proximity to Switzerland makes it easier to export goods to developed countries. Economic stability and long-standing trade relationships particularly support long-term success.
However, it would be a mistake to believe it's easy to export goods to mature markets. That's because in most cases, they are saturated markets. There is major competitive pressure and often, even niches have already been filled. At the same time, clients are extremely demanding. This means that Swiss SMEs need to win these countries over with their products and services from the start.
Exporting to mature markets with a clear USP
A clear USP is very important for Swiss companies that want to export to mature markets. They have to position themselves as distinct from the competition and win business with a strong product and services. Innovative products are particularly sought after. As the most innovative country in the world, Switzerland is in a good starting position in this regard.
In addition to sustainability, digitalization is quite clearly the major megatrend right now. For example, clients in the UK are constantly looking for digital solutions – whether in the B2B or B2C segment. Swiss exporters even have to think digitally with their marketing. E-commerce is an important sales channel in the US and Canada, and home shopping via TV is popular in South Korea.
Focus on client needs for exporting
It is important to know and fulfill client needs when exporting to mature markets. This is true when it comes to marketing, delivery periods, and services. In the US, delivery periods of just a few hours are standard nowadays. In Japan, after-sales service is crucial. Support is requested around the clock.
The price model also needs to be adjusted based on the country. Although mature markets have economies with high purchasing power, clients in Germany are much more price-sensitive than Swiss clients, for instance. Price is also an important purchase criterion in southern European countries such as Italy, France, and Spain. Prices are increasingly scrutinized even in countries with high prices like Australia and New Zealand. Cheap competition from Asia is also putting pressure on the market here.
Rethink your business model for exporting
Although mature markets share some cultural proximity to Switzerland, country-specific characteristics must be taken into account when exporting. This is especially important in southern European countries, since they place great value on personal relationships. Swiss exporters would do well there to work with local salespeople or partners. The same applies to more remote markets, such as Australia and New Zealand.
Legal provisions may also be a stumbling block in some countries. SMEs that export to North America are particularly challenged in this regard. Not only are the regulations often stricter, but they are also almost always different in the US and Canada. That's why companies that want to export to mature markets need to consider the local differences. Your business model may need to be adapted when exporting from Switzerland.
Quality is an important factor when exporting from Switzerland
The quality of the exported products and services is of central importance in mature markets. "Swissness" enjoys a good reputation in this regard. In other countries, having the "Made in Switzerland" label on your product is an important selling point. "It stands for quality, exclusivity, tradition, and the latest technology," says economist Sascha Jucker. So, if Swiss SMEs continue to consistently focus on Swiss quality standards – from the product to delivery and service – they have a good chance of continuing to successfully export to mature markets.