Reading: Entry Strategies in Global Markets

Choosing a Global Entry Strategy

Firms typically approach international marketing cautiously. They must analyze the market opportunity as well as their internal capabilities to determine which approach will be the best fit. Often businesses start with a lower-risk strategy and progress to other strategies involving additional investment and risk and additional opportunity after they have proven initial success. The most common market entry strategies are outlined below.

Exporting

Canada exports approximately one-third of its goods and services.
Read: Canada Trade Statistics: Exports, Imports, Products, Tariffs, GDP and related Development Indicator published by the World Integrated Trade Solution.

Exporting means sending goods produced in one country to sell them in another country. Exporting is a low-risk strategy that businesses find attractive for several reasons. First, mature products in a domestic market might find new growth opportunities overseas. Second, some firms find it less risky and more profitable to export existing products, instead of developing new ones. Third, firms that face seasonal domestic demand might choose to market their offerings abroad to balance out seasonal demand in their revenue streams. Finally, some firms might export because there is less competition overseas. Smaller firms often choose to export over other strategies because it offers a degree of control over risk, cost, and resource commitment. Smaller firms often only export in response to an unsolicited overseas order, which is also perceived as low risk.  Canada exports approximately one-third of its goods and services.

Licensing and Franchising

Holiday Inn words and logo lit in the colour green against a black background. The London clock face sits above the logo.
Holiday Inn, London

Under a licensing agreement, a firm (licensor) provides a product to a foreign firm (licensee) by granting that firm the right to use the licensor’s manufacturing process, brand name, patents, or sales knowledge, in return for payment. Since its debut in the late 1970s, Star Wars remains the most lucrative source of licensing in the entertainment business and has generated more than $42 billion from the sale of licensed merchandise. The licensee obtains a competitive advantage in this arrangement, while the licensor obtains inexpensive access to a new market. Scarce capital, import restrictions, or government restrictions often make this the only way a firm can market internationally. This method does contain some risks. It’s typically the least profitable method for entering a foreign market, and it entails a long-term commitment. Furthermore, if a licensee fails to successfully reproduce a licensed product, or if the licensee markets licensed products ineffectively, it could tarnish the original product’s brand image.

Canada has started successful global franchises
Read: The 10 Largest Franchises that Originated in Canada by Paige Watts (April 28, 2017) in Franchise Direct.

A longer-term and more comprehensive way to access the global market is through franchising. Under the terms of a franchise agreement, a party (franchisee) acquires access to the knowledge, processes, and trademarks of a business (the franchisor) in order to sell a product or service under the business’s (franchise’s) name. In exchange for the franchise, the franchisee usually pays the franchisor both initial and annual fees. Holiday Inn, Hertz Car Rental, and McDonald’s have all expanded into foreign markets through franchising. Canada has started successful global franchises that have been acquired by U.S. companies including Tim Horton’s and Pita Pit.

Joint Ventures

Read: Air Canada and Air China sign long-awaited joint venture deal by Alicja Siekierska in The Financial Post / June  06, 2018

A joint venture is a partnership between a domestic and foreign firm. Both partners invest money, share ownership, and share control of the venture. Typically the foreign partner provides expertise about the new market, business connections and networks, and access to other in-country elements of business like real-estate and regulatory compliance. Joint ventures require a greater commitment from firms than other methods, because they are riskier and less flexible. Joint ventures may afford tax advantages in many countries, particularly where foreign-owned businesses are taxed at higher rates than locally owned businesses. Some countries require all business ventures to be at least partially owned by domestic business partners. Joint ventures may also span multiple countries. This is most common when business partners team up to conduct business in a world region. An example of a Canadian joint venture is between Air Canada and Air China. This joint venture took over four years to develop.[1]

Direct Investment

Multinational organizations may choose to engage in full-scale production and marketing abroad by directly investing in wholly-owned subsidiaries. For example, Clearwater Seafood has a wholly-owned Scottish subsidiary Macduff. As opposed to the previously mentioned methods of entry, this type of entry results in a company directly owning manufacturing or marketing subsidiaries overseas. This enables firms to compete more aggressively abroad, because they are literally “in” the marketplace. However, because the subsidiary is responsible for all the marketing activities in a foreign country, this method requires a much larger investment. It’s also a risky strategy because it requires a complete understanding of business conditions and customs in a foreign country.

Commercial Centres and Crown Corporations

These centres provide resources to promote the export of Canadian goods and services abroad. They are typically a government body that works with private businesses. An example of a Nova Scotia Crown Corporation is Nova Scotia Business Inc. It is a provincial organization. A federal resource is the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC.ca) or the Canadian Trade Federal Trade Commissioner. Watch the quick video on how these resources can help.

These centres do this by familiarizing firms with industries, markets, and customs in other countries. These centres provide the following services: business facilities; translation and clerical services; a commercial library with legal information; and assistance with contracts and export/import arrangements. They also facilitate contacts between buyers, sellers, bankers, distributors, and other provincial and federal governmental officials. These resources represent a low-risk way to gain information and familiarity about new overseas markets.

BDC offers firms consultation services on how to plan to export their goods or services outside Canada.
BDC offers firms consultation services on how to plan to export their goods or services.

Product and Trade Intermediaries

If a company lacks the resources or expertise to enter a foreign market, it can hire or engage trade intermediaries, who possess the necessary contacts and relationships in those markets.  There are several types of middlemen: agents, representatives, trading houses, and distributors.

  • Agents and representatives aren’t exactly the same. An agent secures orders from foreign customers in exchange for a commission.
  • representative specializes in sales within a specific geographic area. Both types of intermediaries may be authorized and commissioned to enter into contractual sales agreements with foreign customers on your behalf.
  • Trading houses are domestic intermediaries that market your goods or services abroad.
  • Unlike agents, distributors actually purchase your product or service and resell it to local customers.

Do you know what Nova Scotia’s major export are?

You can found out from Statistics Canada:
Nova Scotia Report using Statistics Canada Data for 2017-18

Example: Toyota’s Progression into Global Business

Interior view of the dashboard of a car.

Toyota Motors started out as a domestic marketer in Japan. Eventually, it began exporting its cars to a few regional markets. As it saw greater success, Toyota became adept as a multinational marketer, and today is a true global marketer. Today Toyota operates manufacturing plants in foreign countries with local labor, using local ad agencies, and pursing marketing strategies that appeal to each country’s market segments and consumer needs. As Toyota progressed through each stage of global expansion, it revised its attitudes and approach to marketing and its underlying philosophy of business.


  1. Siekierska, A. (2018, June 06). Air Canada and Air China sign long-awaited joint venture deal.https://financialpost.com/transportation/airlines/air-canada-air-china-sign-joint-venture-deal-in-state-airlines-first-deal-with-north-american-carrier

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Introduction to Marketing II 2e (MKTG 2005) by NSCC and Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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