Steps to Get Into a New Market
1. Study the Market
First of all, you need to know the local markets well. Population, health conditions and prevalence, current available products and competitors, culture and consumer habits, pricing, sales channels, regulation requirements……
2. Set Up a Local Legal Representative
Once the market and products are identified. You need to think about how you are going to market your products in that country, especially for overseas companies and local start-ups, a decision has to be made whether your business will set up a company in the local market to distribute the products by yourself or you are going to outlicense or partner with other local companies for product distribution. A local legal entity is always required for local product registration and distribution, this could be your own local company, an appointed local distributor or a local partner company.
Depending on the operation model and the local regulation requirements, there might be other areas of licences or approvals required for the local operations.
3. Product Registration & Compliance with Local Regulatory Requirements
The majority of healthcare products such as medicines and medical devices are required to be registered with the local regulatory authorities before they can be marketed. Depending on countries, some products such as cosmetics or health supplements may not need to be registered, however, the products are always required to comply with local regulatory requirements including ingredients, quality, labelling, promotions, etc.
4. Establish Distribution Channels
A good distribution channel is critical for a new market. Will the products be distributed through traditional channels (i.e. wholesalers, retailers, or direct sales) or more modernised channels such as online e-commerce platform, social network, free trade zone distribution? Are you distributing the products by using your own local operations or partnering with other local distributors, or through outlicensing? A decision has to be made at this stage or before.
5. Invest in Product & Brand Awareness
To support the product distribution, the product and brand awareness need to be invested. Promotions can be done in various media and channels including company or product websites, advertisements, tradeshows, education events……
Social media plays an very important role these days, it’s becoming an increasingly important channel for product and brand promotion or even for product sales. For example, WeChat on smart phones has been a daily tool for many Chinese customers to obtain product information and to buy products online.
6. Facilitate Distribution Network
To support the growth in sales, ongoing investment to facilitate the distribution network is necessary. Trade information, sale support materials, training, etc. are to be organised for the purpose.