Reversing the innovation through export

Ed Marsh | Apr 16, 2012

Export "lessons learned" can help domestic business

One of the infrequently discussed but critical benefits of international business development is the opportunity for "reverse innovation."
This sounds "techy", and it can be, but it doesn't necessarily  have to be.   

Usage, preferences, efficiency and application

Selling products and services internationally introduce a company to a variety of influences which can be domestically beneficial.

A recent HBR article by Vijay Govindarajan detailed a variety of technical development initiatives which can be enhanced (often reducing cost and decreasing complexity) through reverse innovation.  Perhaps the most important contribution to the "conversation" though came near the end of the article.  Govindarajan writes:

"Although the term "reverse innovation" is common in discussions of Western multinationals' role in emerging markets, not everyone realizes that it refers as much to state  of mind as to best practice...innovations to good use across a spectrum of markets worldwide."

An international "state of mind"

OK - you're not a tech company and you don't have the resources for international R&D.  I get it.  But that doesn't let you off the hook.

Start selling internationally and you'll soon discover that people in different markets find creative new applications for your product that you never envisioned - opening up new vertical opportunities for you domestically!  You'll likely discover packaging innovation and retail options you hadn't previously considered.

And how about this one...our domestic US market is comprised of numerous immigrant cultures and communities.  Each assimilates to different degrees into our collective culture, but often each retains substantial original character.  Learn more about selling to that group in their home market, and imagine the advantage you would have over domestic competitors here. 

1 of every two babies

Did you realize that 1 of every two babies born in the US is hispanic?  But hispanic is an enormous category - one which has been written about here by Santi Lopez on various occasions, and  is often perceived by American marketers as requiring "spanglish" marketing.  But to really successfully market to this enormous portion of upcoming American demographic, a deep knowledge of the subtle and significant differences among the vast array of Latino cultures will be required.Free Whitepaper - how export teaches lessons for domestic competitiveness

And the best way to develop that experience?  Sell to them in their home markets!

The bottom line?  You can improve your domestic marketing by marketing to international markets.

Download our free whitepaper "How exporting teaches lessons to use at home" to learn more.  

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