Series: 11 fail in foreign trade

Mistake 1: You leave your product as it is and do not adapt to the requirements of the target market.

It’s all to no avail. If you want to be successful abroad, you have to adapt your product to the foreign requirements. Prof. Peter Anterist, Managing Director of InterGest Worldwide, illustrates this by means of a fictitious company story, which, however, could very well be true.

The initial situation

Mr. Müller from R., is a third-generation ice cream manufacturer in the third generation and market leader in Germany. He dominates the German market with ice cream specialities that our grandmothers would never have dared to dream of, transforms Amaretto into melting dreams and even turns the popular Sunday cake into ice cream.

Now it’s time to enrich the world with their delicious creations and what could be more obvious than to please the French, who are spoiled for taste. Whoever created such things as Crème Brulé (can you turn that into ice cream?) deserves to be spoiled with German ice cream.

The wrong decision

So off we go, quickly looking for a distribution partner in France and providing them with enough material for the listing talks. And the best thing is: the new innovative packaging is also ready in time for the market launch – no unnecessary outer packaging, thanks to the innovative sealing of the plastic cup. And the print is now so beautifully colourful!

Thanks to a huge budget, you can also get to the frozen food shelves quickly and look forward to the local competition losing ground soon. Finally, marzipan cake turned into ice cream and is available

The consequences

It came differently than expected: after a slow start to sales, things are going more bad than good, the trend is clearly downwards rather than upwards. The ice cream lies like lead in the counters, no one wants to buy the tempting “Glace parfum tarte
á la pâte d’amande”.

But why? Are the French so ignorant? Don’t they usually eat their sorbets? And now they finally get a dessert with lots of cream and sugar from Mr. Müller. Why don’t they
buy it? Granted, there are no marzipan tarts in France, but that can hardly be the reason, can it? And the packaging has turned out so nicely, and it’s environmentally friendly, too.

The French distributor also explained that in France they attach great importance to the appearance of a product, but maybe he hasn’t seen a well-designed package yet. He also said that the name “Lüdenheimer Eiskreationen” might not be optimal in France and that a French name would be better. As if Coca-Cola would change its name!

The reasons for the failure

Mr. Müller and his team never thought about whether consumer habits in the neighbouring country might be different from those in their home country, and, thus, made one of the most common mistakes in exporting. Every country is different and the people living there have a different culture, different traditions and different tastes.

In France, consumers place a lot of importance on appealing packaging and care less about whether it is environmentally friendly or not. France also loves yoghurts with 0 percent fat AND 0 percent sugar - a reason why, for example, a major German manufacturer of sweet cream yoghurts once failed grandly on the French market.

Quoted from and inspired by the book by Prof. Peter Anterist "Fail in foreign trade Eleven sure ways to burn money", 3rd, revised edition, 2021, available from: