What Every Enterprise Can Learn from European Entrepreneurs
Carol Feigenbaum |
 01/02/19 |

‘Going global’ is something every entrepreneur aspires to these days – at least those entrepreneurs planning to build a business that grows! And there are quite a few European entrepreneurs offering exceptional insight to inform that growth in any vertical, from billionaires to soon-to-be-success stories. We’ll explore a few here.

The consumer market is booming in Europe, of course, as well as the United States, China, Japan and other lucrative, niche areas – so globalization is really anyone’s game. And it all comes down to growth tactics.

Humble Beginnings

International business owners often started out small, with basic product offerings and antiquated market research methodologies. And that’s an understatement.

Amancio Ortega, founder of the internationally famous Zara chain, started out as a delivery boy for a men’s shirt shop catering to wealthy clientele. He paid close attention to the client base and realized there was an opportunity for garments more competitively priced. This eventually led him to the “fast-fashion concept.”

At fashion shows trend spotters picked up design ideas, in-house designers copied the best concepts, and Inditex’s [Zara’s manufacturing company] highly efficient manufacturing operations, most of which were based in Spain, produced and delivered new fashions to stores just a few weeks after they had been spotted on fashion runways. Styles that did not sell were quickly removed from stores. The fast-fashion concept was so popular with customers that Zara, with more than 1,000 outlets worldwide, spent relatively little on advertising.

And they’ve certainly hit that niche appropriately, with sentiment around their “nuevo diseno” earning then lots of love, with an 83% sentiment score (measuring Net Sentiment from -100 to 100).



And then there’s Ingvar Feodor Kamprad, who founded a business using an abbreviation for Ingvar Kamprad from Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd, his boyhood home – better known as IKEA.

At six, he was selling matches. At ten, you’d find him selling Christmas decorations, fish and pencils. And “At 17, in 1943, Kamprad’s father rewarded him with a small sum of money for doing well in school, despite being dyslexic. With it, Ingvar founded a business named IKEA.”

Kamprad undercut competitors’ pricing so they tried to shut him out. Necessity being the mother of invention, he created flat-pack form furniture, which was simple, affordable and designed, manufactured and sold from his own warehouses. He wanted people to have stylish, modern, affordable furniture. That branding lives on today – probably because they do awesome things like this:

From matchsticks to millionaire though – that should keep any entrepreneur hopeful.

Natural economies of scale lead each them to more sophisticated product offerings, made possible in today’s competitive market with correspondingly sophisticated consumer research options – like sentiment analysis tools.

How is this necessary to compete? A couple of reasons come to mind . . .

Building The Awareness You Want – and Need

IKEA and Zara may have grown organically in the way-back days before the internet, but each is solidly monitoring online sentiment now, that much is clear. It’s unlikely either would have experienced the same results today without some online juice supporting their efforts. It would have been a much bumpier ride, at the least, as even things we all should love face undue scrutiny online these days.

Take renewable energy for example. It’s an area that naturally generates passion, but the market can become saturated quickly with lots of good ideas that will never come to fruition. Lots of expensive, venture-funded ideas.

And some of them, like Ocean Thermal Energy, being offered by a company in the Netherlands, called Bluerise, resonate strongly with the renewables crowd – and for good reason: this mostly untapped resource is also one of the world’s largest potential energy sources. Yes, the ocean.

But even though they’ve captured interest and have a solid idea, understanding sentiment around how folks are receiving what they’re offering is always important.

This where having access to news, forums, review sites, as well as social media in one converged media dashboard can make or break a company – it’s where one can find sentiment as it begins to build, so you can address it before it has a chance to grow.

For example, exploring sentiment attributes around ocean thermal energy appears rosy at first blush, but all is not well beneath the surface, with some questioning ways it could fail (so that would be important to address), and more troubling – the kernel of doubt questioning whether the whole thing is a scam.

This is the kind of buzz to monitor to see if it’s a one-off wild statement, or something that’s said more than once (or by an influencer) and needs to be addressed.

And this is why it’s important to understand influence – so that you can tell when you need to pay super close attention to what’s being said by a specific individual and potentially intervene, or if it’s better to just observe silently from a distance.

Finding and Fostering Love Matches

At the end of the day, the passion consumers feel is something every successful brand harnesses, and every unsuccessful brand ignores. Europe’s top entrepreneurs know this.

Returning to IKEA, we see how the pros get the job done. They’ve created a powerful brand voice – a movement in itself, as its loyal followers demonstrate online each day. IKEA’s owned and earned hashtags offer additional insight into how exceptionally well they’re hitting the mark for their category as well:

 IKEA’s media always hits its mark, with tens of thousands of impressions and shares. It’s become more than a furniture store, embedding itself into life stories.

Its marketing appears to happen with ease now, no doubt – but it takes informed effort to keep a fickle online audience on its side and to keep that army of #ikeahackers tweeting and emotionally invested. It forms a brand health barrier for them, but one that could be penetrated at any moment. That’s the power and horror of online!

Regardless, you should always be ready to act. Your influencers will help with that, but nothing can replace monitoring sentiment and having the pulse of your category every day.

Those matchstick millionaires (billionaires) are out there waiting to win your consumer love and disrupt your category. It would be best to see that coming! Reach out and we’ll show you how!

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