Market penetration into new countries with an existing product can be a great way to expand your business and increase profits – but only if it’s done correctly. What works for the development and marketing of a product in one country, may not work in another country. Lots of factors come into play when entering a new market, including socio-cultural narratives, requirements, and needs. The German market is no different. Whilst many might assume that marketing for Germany might be similar to other central European countries, this is simply not the case.
A common mistake made by many product managers is their assumption that markets which are geographically close are also culturally and socially similar. However, this is not the case, as demonstrated with Germany, whose social and cultural expectations, values, and desires, vary from its European neighbours. Germany is highly conservative, but also highly competitive, and when it comes to business and product is relatively open minded to new ideas. Whilst Germany remains to be a difficult country to champion in business, if successful, businesses can thrive there.
Germany is known as a country who is largely very risk adverse and values certainty and facts. Germans are much less likely to take risks and it is therefore important to earn their trust when designing products, and keeping any partners or investors completely informed throughout the process. Utilising official logos, endorsements, and certified stamps of approval will gain trust amongst the German audience, as well as honest testimonials which will all help create a genuine, and honest PR approach.
When delivering your product proposal, there should be extensive detail surrounding cost, development, delivery, and execution, to show that the Product is well thought out and realistic. You should focus on certainty and delivering facts and well calculated projections.
Build trust further by networking and gaining trustworthy connections that you can leverage within the German market. Germany really values links to industry associations. For example, working directly with, or being endorsed by the European Commission and local business networks will improve your chances of success with German consumers.
Despite mass assumptions that most German’s know English, this really depends on your target audience. Whilst over 60% of Germans have some fluency in English, those in older age groups are much less likely to understand English. Localisation is still key, despite the high number of English speakers. Naturally, German consumers are much more comfortable receiving information in their native tongue, therefore having German translations on apps, websites, and physical products, as well as marketing materials is a great way to easily localise products. If you don’t speak German, you can find reliable, and affordable agencies who can provide translations.
German’s aren’t tight with their money if the product is worth it. They would much rather pay more for something of good quality, than save money on something of poor quality. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of quality for German businesses and consumers. In buying decisions, quality often comes before all other factors including price. For example, of 5 countries analysed, Germany had the lowest average number of apps installed per smartphone, yet it had the highest average number of paid apps.
Ensure that when launching a product in Germany, create clear channels for feedback and communications to ensure you are continuously improving your product and elevating quality.
For a marketing campaign to be effective in Germany, it generally must agree with the cultural traditions of the Germans. This includes, as suggested above, using the German language in all marketing materials. This demonstrates a consideration for their native language, which is something they are generally proud of.
Furthermore, glamorous adverts, or adverts relying on a hard sell often fail in the German market, as they instead rely on certainty that results from honest PR, proven outcomes, and endorsements.
2014 reports suggested less than 10% of Germans actively used Twitter, so social media marketing through this platform would have been minimally valuable. Do your research and work with statistics. Identify where your target audience is active and present and maximise marketing efforts in these areas. Over 72% of Germans read a newspaper, so therefore focusing on traditional forms of print advertising, as well as TV advertising, might be a great place to start. Trade journals are also very popular.
Partner with a business who has a product that compliments yours, and market them together. For example if you sell pens, find a German company that sells diaries or notebooks, and see if you can collaborate on a marketing campaign that sells them both together. This tends to be a cost-effective way of marketing your product in a new market. You can also leverage the maturity and reputation of the existing German business.
If you are struggling to strategise and plan your marketing for the German Market, you can outsource marketing to an agency, or source talent that is well equipped and knowledgeable in the German market. Hiring somebody internally is highly beneficial as it will allow them to become loyal and in tune with your product. They will dedicate their full amount of working time to marketing your product, utilising their knowledge of the market to your advantage.
Maxwell Bond are the recruitment partner of choice across the UK, USA, and Germany across roles including Product, Digital Marketing, UX and Design, Software Development, Cyber Security, DevOps, and Project. Head over to our website to read about our recent talent partnerships, how we have helped international businesses grow and to find out how we can help you. Alternatively, contact me directly for help building your Product function or to find your next Product role.