Exporting from Switzerland: mostly exporting to mature markets

Exporting to mature markets: USP and Swissness count

A large proportion of Swiss exports are sold to mature markets. Accordingly, mature markets are essential for SMEs. However, these markets are noticeably saturated. How do you succeed in exporting products and services to mature markets in spite of this?

Most exports from Switzerland are headed for mature markets

Mature markets are of central importance when exporting from Switzerland. Almost half of all exports go to the EU. The US is in second place. The two German states that border on Switzerland, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, alone import twice the volume of Swiss products that China does. These markets are highly developed and have high purchasing power. The cultural and sometimes geographical proximity to Switzerland makes it easier to export to industrialized nations. It's worth noting that economic stability and long-standing trade relationships help solidify 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 a great deal of pressure from the competition, and even niche markets are often covered. At the same time, clients are extremely demanding. This is why Swiss SMEs must deliver outstanding products and services to these countries right from the start.

Exporting from Switzerland: the most important countries

Switzerland's major export countries

Source: Swiss Federal Customs Administration

Exports to mature markets with a distinct USP

A clear USP is critical for Swiss companies that want to export to mature markets. They must set themselves apart from the competition and win clients over with outstanding products 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 also 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, especially when exporting to mature markets. This is true when it comes to marketing, delivery deadlines, and services. In the US, for instance, delivery times of just a few hours are now standard. In Japan, after-sales service is particularly important. Support is expected 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-conscious than in Switzerland. Price is also an important purchasing factor in southern European countries such as Italy, France, and Spain. Prices are scrutinized more and more 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 exports

Although mature markets share some cultural proximity to Switzerland, the characteristics of each country must be taken into account when exporting. This is especially important in southern European countries, where they place great value on personal relationships. Swiss exporters would do well to work with local salespeople or partners there. The same applies to more remote markets, such as Australia and New Zealand.

Various laws may also be a stumbling block in some countries. SMEs that export to North America probably know this best. Not only are the regulations often stricter, but they are also rarely the same for both 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" boasts a good reputation in this regard. In foreign 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. In sum, 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.

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