If your business is ready to enter into a new international market, you may be looking for some tips on choosing a market entry strategy.

The type of market entry strategy you select will depend on your product or service, the results of your research and your objectives in the market. It’s important your strategy for international expansion addresses two criteria: exporting and establishing a local presence.


  • The type of market entry strategy you select will depend on your product or service.
  • Entering international markets can involve credit, political and currency risks.
  • To mitigate those risks, companies interested in international expansion often turn to trade credit insurance .
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There are several options to consider regarding exporting as a foreign market entry strategy.

  • You can select direct exporting by selling your products directly to someone in an international market.
  • Or, you can choose indirect exporting and sell your products to a third party in your own country, which, in turn, sells your products to an international market.
  • You also can indirectly export using buying agents, export management and trading companies, distributors or by piggyback marketing.

The method you choose will depend upon the amount of time, staff, and resources you have to distribute and market your product, and the amount of knowledge you have about your international market.

Choosing direct exporting may be a foreign market entry strategy that’s right for your company when you have a unique offering with strong customer appeal and have adapted it to match your targeted international market. When you direct export, you can achieve higher profits without a middleman. Plus, you will gain complete control over your transactions and be able to establish close relationships with your customers.

If entering a new international market poses challenges, such as language barriers, cultural differences or unfamiliar ways of doing business, it may be better to choose indirect exporting via intermediaries who know the local market much better. They can help you find customers, arrange distribution channels, handle documentation, clear your goods through customs and provide after-sales service.

One way to indirectly export is to use a buying agent. Buying agents, also known as confirming houses, represent firms in the countries you want to export to that want to buy your product. These agents work on a commission and take orders for your products and forward those orders to you. Your company is responsible for promoting and marketing your products in that country, setting prices, filling the orders, shipping the goods to the customers and collecting payment. You will, therefore, potentially have to bear the credit risk.
You could also indirectly export through a distributor. Distributors buy your product from you and then sell it to end users in another country at a markup that provides them with their profit margin. They handle all distribution, marketing and advertising, and can represent you in all aspects of sales and service. Distributors can represent you either exclusively or non-exclusively, meaning they can purchase and market products similar to yours.
Another route to indirect exporting is through management or trading companies. Export management or trading companies can purchase your product outright or take orders for your products and work on commission. They can specialize by product, international market or both. They will handle market research, transportation and advertising. While they can provide immediate and easy access to a market you want to enter, you will typically have less control over sales, brand management and relationship building.

Some domestic companies that already have an extensive exporting system and comprehensive international marketing network in place look for other products that complement their lines. If you manufacture such a product, they can make an agreement with your company to sell your product through their international networks.

In this scenario, they would purchase your products and then do all of the marketing and distribution. Your company “piggybacks” on their network to your product to an international market. Piggybacking is often a low-risk type of market entry strategy.

The second overarching international market entry strategy is to establish a local presence, often known as foreign direct investment. There are a number of ways to establish a presence in your international market of choice, including: opening a branch or subsidiary, partnering with local companies, establishing a joint venture, licensing or taking on turnkey projects.

If you need a basic presence in the market, opening your own sales or marketing office (sometimes called a branch office) may be the answer. Your branch office conducts business just as your main domestic company does, and is responsible to your domestic company.

A subsidiary, however, operates as a separate entity from the domestic company, but reports to a separate holding company. The holding company has no operations of its own, but holds a controlling share of the subsidiary stock. The subsidiary maintains its accounts separately from the domestic parent company, and the parent company has no liability for the subsidiary. 

Another foreign market entry strategy is to partner with a local company in your target market. This strategy can help you get to market much faster and sell your products because you will have a partner who is native to the area. A partner based in the foreign market you target can help you navigate the politics and customs of the area, make connections with customers and find employees. Many countries, including Australia, India, Japan, and countries in the Middle East, require that you have some sort of local representation in order to do business.

There are some disadvantages to this arrangement. In an international partnership, you will typically have less equity and therefore less control. There may be an unequal distribution of responsibility and risk. You should also be aware of the risks inherent in such a partnership, including adverse effects on your business due to the country’s economic conditions or policies, property rights differences and currency exchange rates.

Forming a joint venture is also a viable foreign market entry strategy. You can buy into a company or create a new, shared company in a joint partnership with a person in the international community you choose. In a joint venture, you would both share legal ownership and contribute resources to pursue the business opportunity.

Because you can sell your interest back to your partner, a joint venture offers the flexibility to manage risks like changes in the local market or in the relationship between partners. The disadvantages of the joint venture model are that they can be difficult to oversee and, because both partners have an ownership stake, disagreements can happen at any time.

Buying a local company can be a pricey strategy with regard to foreign market entry. However, it comes with a variety of benefits, such as acquiring qualified personnel who are already a part of daily operations, as well as an established foothold in that specific market. Purchasing a local company can also come with a loyal customer base, as opposed to having to compete with that company if you were to enter the market by setting up a new presence. Additionally, purchasing a company also gives you access to a vast knowledge of local markets and customs via the combined experience and expertise of local talent who have been a valued part of the company prior to your acquisition. This can help your organization effectively scale and expand your local presence at a faster pace.

Licensing can be a relatively simple way to enter an international market. In a licensing agreement, you grant a foreign company the right to manufacture your product and sell it, in exchange for a royalty fee. You won’t incur the costs of setting up in a foreign market, but you will lose some control over how your product is manufactured or how your technology is used.

Other benefits to licensing include gaining access to markets that may be closed to imports and avoiding some taxes typically made on exporters. However, there are some disadvantages, including the risk of losing intellectual property and lack of quality control.

For companies in the architecture, construction, IT or engineering fields, turnkey projects are another viable international market entry strategy. In a turnkey project, you are contracted by the foreign entity to build a facility and/or fully train operating personnel before turning the facility over to the foreign client. Typically, turnkey projects are financed by the foreign government or an international financial agency. However, your company’s operations within the country are short-term and end once the project is complete.

Whichever market entry strategy you choose, keep in mind the financial impact. Entering international markets can involve credit, political and currency risks including non-payment, expropriation of your assets by a foreign government and fluctuation in the value of your currency relative to the target market’s currency.

To mitigate those risks, companies interested in international expansion often turn to trade credit insurance. Trade credit insurance can help mitigate the risk of non-payment from foreign business partners and help you get additional working capital from your financial institution to support your international expansion.

When you insure your accounts receivables with trade credit insurance from Allianz Trade, you can count on being paid, even if one of your accounts faces insolvency or is unable to pay. In addition, trade credit insurance from Allianz Trade comes with the added benefit of the support necessary to make data-informed decisions about extending credit to new clients or increasing credit to existing clients.

Allianz Trade is the global leader in trade credit insurance and credit management, offering tailored solutions to mitigate the risks associated with bad debt, thereby ensuring the financial stability of businesses. Our products and services help companies with risk management, cash flow management, accounts receivables protection, Surety bonds, business fraud Insurance, debt collection processes and e-commerce credit insurance ensuring the financial resilience for our client’s businesses. Our expertise in risk mitigation and finance positions us as trusted advisors, enabling businesses aspiring for global success to expand into international markets with confidence.

Our business is built on supporting relationships between people and organizations, relationships that extend across frontiers of all kinds—geographical, financial, industrial, and more. We are constantly aware that our work has an impact on the communities we serve and that we have a duty to help and support others. At Allianz Trade, we are strongly committed to fairness for all without discrimination, among our own people and in our many relationships with those outside our business.