Going International like Airbnb, KKday, and eBay Want to Go Global? Listen to the Locals and Make your Business Personal

January 29, 2019

In Dec 2018, Growth Marketer Academy has organised the 1st growth marketing conference in HK at Tencent Westart. It gathered speakers from eBay, KKday, SCMP, FoodPanda, Lalamove, MoneySmart etc. to share their growth tactics & experience with 150+ marketers & founders from startups & corporates. The attendees not only gained insights about growth marketing by sitting in front of the screen, but also had chances to interact with the 8 growth experts after their sharing. Growth Marketing Academy has summarised their valuable insights into 3 articles for your reference. Want to get hands dirty and learn actionable growth tactics? Come get more details of our intensive boot camp!

The Giant and Giant-to-be of the Travelling Industry

To capture the full potential of the market, many brands decide to scale outward internationally to max out the capability. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon to see such expansions fail due to the rigid copy of the same marketing strategy from one region to another targeted region. To successfully penetrate another local market, there is a significant necessity for market localization and product personalization. With its presence in over 191 countries, Airbnb has become one of the travel industry giants owing to the personalization of experience. Meanwhile, KKday has penetrated the ASEAN market rapidly recently using various localization strategies.

KKday’s 3 Steps to Go International

1.Market Testing

The first step concerns the increase of product exposure to the mass audience to discover potential customers via different marketing channels. After certain customers have been selected as the most potential segmentation, their behaviour would be analyzed by marketers in order to develop suitable marketing strategies. (Want to know more about Marketing Testing? Click to have a look at GMA Boot Camp’s syllabus!)

2.Funnel Optimisation

The next step concerns the optimization of funnels to increase the conversion rate. This could be realised by the massive personalized communication with the audience and “call to action” devices. To retain the customers that successfully journey through KKday’s website and purchased products, reward systems are developed to enhance customer experience in hopes of generating good reputation.

3.Expansion to New Market via Localization

The last step of the approach concerns the adaptation of local perspective during the international marketing of the product. According to Rebecca, KKday’s Regional Executive Director (Hong Kong & Southeast Asia),  “the key to localization is to increase the brand’s familiarity and shorten its gap with the customers”, which means to negotiate a more intimate relationship between the brand and the customers.  

The Extent of Localization – How far you can go international

i.Localised Promotion and Campaigns

One means is to localize via the social media channels and content. Local bloggers and influencers can be invited to endorse the brand so as to increase the brand’s trustworthiness. Rebecca also emphasized the use of local inside joke to further increase the brand’s familiarity.

The marketing campaign materials, meanwhile, should be differentiated targeting different regions.

ii.Localized Products

Exclusive and localized products and services can be developed to attract local customers. For instance, Rebecca discovered that Japanese tourists have a liking of styling their hair in Taiwan’s Salon, KKday thereby launched exclusive tours that visit professional salons in Taiwan, exclusively for Japanese.

iii.Localised Team

Hire the locals as you can never think local as locals. Rebecca’s philosophy of hiring would be trusting the locals and giving enough authority to them. Embracing cultural difference is as important – Rebecca just realized as KKday expanded to Thailand that Thai in general has a loose concept of business punctuality, which might be due to the chaotic traffic there. The Thai-5-minute is usually not equal to actual 5 minutes. Adapting to these culture may be difficult at times but it is necessary as local team is of crucial importance when it comes to area expansion.

iv.Localized Customer Service

Below consumer behaviours are discovery from Rebecca’s hands-on experience as KKday expanded to different ASEAN countries – Hong Kongers feel more secure when they can talk through phone; Singaporeans are in favour of thoughtful plans with details and contingencies; Korean values speedy services, etc. There might not be fancy tactics to deal with these cultural differences. Rather, simply acknowledging them and try to cater to these cultural preferences will already make a difference.

If you think the above points inspirational, congratulations, but if not, don’t get disappointed. You are right in that the above theories are not exclusively owned by KKday, and in fact, can be heard anywhere. But why still KKday can be so successful? Rebecca highlighted that “It is important to accept that nobody and no products are perfect. After all, the definition of growth marketing is to attain user growth in the fastest way, so if there is really a key to expansion, that would be “Don’t wait, do it first,  listen to how the market respond, constantly improve your approach, and your business will get better and better.”

Side Story of eBay – Selling Chinese phones to the US for 100M+ value

Whereas for KKday, localization can be done by coming into contact with the locals, eBay has harnessed its AI-driven platform to remarket some of its products. According to Candace Cheung, eBay APAC’s Senior Manager in Strategic Marketing, a Chinese-manufactured mobile phone brand Leagoo is a case in point – with an attractive price of around USD 150, it turns out that the transaction amount of it in a US city was amounted to 100+ Million, what an exemplary case to show how data are used to fill inventory gap in eBay. Localisation is not only important to marketing expansion for start-ups like KKday, but also to 25-year-old companies like eBay.

AirBnb – From Localisztion to Personalization

Without owning actual properties, is the asset of Airbnb their interface? Robert, Ex-director ( Business Operations & Strategy) of Airbnb, affirmed that the valuable product that Airbnb sells is the personalized experience instead. To sell the personalised experience, Robert stated that the brand designed a series of advertisement that communicates how one can use the interface Airbnb to connect with people instead of merely renting the apartment. The slogan, “Don’t just go there, live there.”, is therefore developed to express this connotation. Another highlight of selling personalised experience is to use baits. Although there are not a lot of treehouse properties for rent, the advertisement often highlights treehouse as a bait to attract and inspire customers. It connotes how Airbnb can connects people with unique and amusing experience.

The rationale of it is to leverage personalized experience to encourage user-generated-content and create word-of-mouth buzz. In the Chinese travel forum, Mafengwo, 42,100 articles regarding Airbnb has been written by users to share their experience with Airbnb. It demonstrates the influence of personalized experience on customers to generate word-of-mouth buzz, which will eventually lead to market expansion. (Interested in knowing more about Content? Click to see how MoneySmart do its Content Marketing)

To wrap up, the three companies, KKday, eBay, and Airbnb are companies with drastically different scales and services. What makes them successful in going global is their willingness to value and embrace the diversity of different culture and individual.