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Do not Copy-Paste

Long before 'social distancing' was a thing and 'bubbles' still made you think about Champagne, I went for a drink with a friend in my hometown Bruges. The waiter asked if we wanted a Heineken or a good Belgian beer, it made me smile, but it also made me think.

Heineken is maybe not the best beer, but still, the brewery managed to become one of the most successful companies in the world. How they did that is a fascinating story. The Heineken company was founded in 1864, and from the early days, it focused on internationalization.

Heineken conquered the Asian market by acquiring local breweries and building partnerships with local players. This strategy has proven to be highly successful: Tiger beer is still one of South East Asia's best-selling brands.

When expanding to the United States, they learned that it was a competitive and saturated market. European brands had only a 1 % market share at the time. Instead of going mainstream, Heineken decided to offer something unique and focus on the luxury segment. They stood out of the crowd by writing in big letters "Brewed in Holland" and using the exotic name Heineken. They also used a green bottle so you could see from a distance that someone could afford an expensive beer. Also in the United States, Heineken became a leading brand.

This success story brings me to the first fundamental when expanding to a new market: Do not copy-paste. What works in your home country or what worked with previous expansions, will not necessarily work in your new target market.

If you want to learn more about how that applies to your business, let's have a conversation.

Wishing you all the best,


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