Business owners and marketers love the idea of tackling new markets. But when a big, exciting opportunity arises, the actual process can be quite intimidating. The mechanics can be complicated, but there are some basic ideas that always remain true.
YPO member Pradeep Cholayil has mastered market expansion. Cholayil is the Chairman and Managing Director of Cholayil Private Limited, an Indian company most famous for its Medimix soap bar. Cholayil Pvt. Ltd. was founded by Cholayil's father, who was a doctor and practitioner of Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old system of traditional medicine and natural healing. Since his father invented the Medimix bar in 1969, the company has expanded both its products and geographic reach, and now includes several brands, many product lines, and distribution in 25 countries. Clearly, Cholayil understands how to break into new markets.
In an episode of my podcast YPO 10 Minute Tips from the Top, Cholayil shared his tried and true tips on expanding into new markets:
1. Make Sure Your Product Will Appeal
One of the big unknowns when breaking into new markets is whether the product will appeal to the new population. Cholayil recognized the growing interest in alternative medicine and natural products, and capitalized on that opportunity. Cholayil says,"'Ayur means 'life' and 'veda' means 'knowledge.' In Ayurveda, it's only the herbs, and to some extent, animal products, that are used." He also recognized the necessity of educating the consumer, explaining, "Slowly, more and more people are able to understand what Ayurveda is all about, especially as yoga increases in popularity in different countries." The process may not be fast, but you can build the appeal of your product to a critical mass.
2. Use Existing Resources
Besides seizing on the opportunities provided by the expansion of natural products, alternative medicine, and yoga, Cholayil had another ace up his sleeve. It's only been a few years since expanding into the US market, but already, "in almost all the Indian stores across the US, Medimix is available," Cholayil states proudly. He explains, "These stores make the fastest route for us, since most Indians already know Medimix." Successful leaders maximize the resources available, and find ways to increase efficiency while keeping costs manageable.
3. Turn Existing Customers into Marketers
There are more ways to take advantage of the local store opportunity. "We want to go more mainstream," Cholayil says. But it ended up being easier than he expected, explaining, "What's interesting is that non-Indian local people living near the stores also visit, and their taste is changing towards Medimix, too." At that point, existing customers, new customers, and all their friends became fans of Medimix. And every marketer knows that the most impactful marketing is word of mouth from your most trusted network.
4. Consider Expanding Your Product Line
While the Medimix bar is huge seller in India and enjoying increasing popularity around the world, Cholayil is constantly looking towards the future, saying, "I always believe change is inevitable." He goes on to say, "Ayurveda is all about mixing different herbs in different combinations, and it's those combinations that give the power to it." Cholayil recognized there were more market gaps he could fill, so he worked to create new products to meet global consumer needs.
The perseverance required in business is similar to the perseverance that Cholayil's father exercised when he developed Medimix in the 1960s. Getting the recipe just right is key, Cholayil explains, saying, "It might be a small molecule in that particular herb that is giving the benefit, but it's the combination that makes all the difference." That's why perseverance is one of Cholayil's core values. "Every time I look in the mirror, I want to get better and better. Not having perseverance will kill success," he says. Patience, indeed, is a virtue.
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.