International Expansion Strategy Examples: Top Growth Tips

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Written by

Adedamola Ojedokun

Expanding your business internationally can be a game changer that opens up a world of possibilities. However, you need meticulous planning and a well-executed strategy to enter new markets.

To avoid common pitfalls and enhance your decision-making, follow our international expansion strategy examples that can be adapted to your circumstances.

Keep reading to learn:

Pro tip: Tailor your user experience to meet the expectations and preferences of customers in different regions using an efficient localization platform like Centus. Learn more.

Why You Need an International Expansion Strategy

Create an international expansion strategy to seize the following opportunities for business growth and success:

Access to new markets and customers

International expansion allows businesses to enter unexplored markets and attain a larger consumer base. You can connect with customers who have different interests, demands, and purchasing behaviors by entering untapped markets.

This expanded market access allows you to generate new revenue streams and establish an international brand presence.

Increased revenue and profitability

Establishing international businesses (or expanding your business internationally) allows you to take advantage of opportunities that may not be available in your domestic market. Entering an international market with strong demand, little competition, or unique niche markets might help you generate extra revenue streams and improve your overall financial performance.

Competitive advantage and market share expansion

You can gain a competitive edge by diversifying your market presence and expanding internationally. International expansion allows you to establish your company as an international player, thereby increasing brand recognition and influence.

You can create barriers for competitors and build a strong market presence that is not easy to replicate by implementing efficient international expansion strategies.

Diversification and risk mitigation

Relying on a single market exposes your company to substantial risks. Economic downturns, political instability, and changes in consumer tastes can all have a detrimental influence on your business.

However, by expanding internationally, you can diversify your risk exposure. If one market is experiencing difficulties, your company can rely on other markets to maintain stability and limit potential losses.

7 Steps for Creating a Successful International Expansion Strategy

how to create a successful strategy for international expansion

International expansion can be a difficult endeavor, but with a well-defined market expansion strategy, you can improve your chances of success.

Here are the steps to consider when developing your strategy:

Step 1: Conduct extensive market research

Acquire and analyze data about the new market, such as economic indicators, market size, consumer behavior, prospective growth, and regulatory factors.

Extensive research will give you insights into market dynamics, competitors, and customer preferences. This will help you determine the viability of your product or service in the new business sector.

Step 2: Identify your target markets

Identify specific target markets that suit your international expansion plan based on findings from your market analysis. To do this, you need to consider market size, growth potential, competition, and the regulatory landscape. Examine how well your product or service fits the demands and preferences of the new market.

You also need to identify niches that align with your business objectives and provide the best prospects for international growth.

Step 3: Develop market entry strategies

There are different options that you can consider when developing market entry strategies. These options include exporting, licensing, joint ventures, and foreign direct investment. Each strategy requires a specific level of investment, control, and risk.

Examine the benefits and drawbacks of each strategy in relation to your company's goals, available resources, and the specific features of the desired market.

Step 4: Allocate resources

Expanding internationally requires the proper allocation of financial resources. This will enable a successful market entry and long-term operations in the new market.

Determine the financial implications of the new market entry, as well as operations, marketing, and distribution requirements. You also need to create a budget that includes both upfront and ongoing costs. When evaluating your budget, consider factors such as foreign exchange rates, legal fees, taxation, and logistics.

Step 5: Build an international expansion team

Building a talented and diverse team plays a key role in creating successful international expansion strategies. Find individuals with international experience, cultural awareness, and knowledge of the new market.

You should also collaborate with an international staffing partner or engage local talent to gather insights and create strong ties in the target market.

Step 6: Implement your international expansion plan

Create a comprehensive implementation plan that reveals the timeline, tasks, and responsibilities for each stage of international expansion. To track progress and ensure accountability, set measurable goals and milestones.

Communicate the expansion plan and objectives to all internal and external stakeholders clearly and concisely. You should also align your operations, marketing, and sales teams with your international expansion strategies to maintain a consistent approach.

Step 7: Continuously evaluate and adjust your strategy

international expansion is an ongoing process, so it's important to analyze your plan and make changes as needed. Hence, pay attention to market developments, consumer feedback, and competition in your target areas.

Review your performance against the established goals and key performance indicators regularly. Also, use data and feedback to detect and address areas for improvement.

4 International Expansion Strategy Examples

The international business expansion strategy examples provided below have proven to be successful. By examining them closely, you can understand what works and why to make strategic decisions that are well-aligned with your international expansion goals.


intermodal containers

Source: Pexels

Exporting is a market entry strategy that involves selling domestically produced goods or services to buyers in foreign markets. The following are three key types of export strategies:

Direct exporting

Direct export involves selling products directly to customers in foreign markets. Typically, this strategy requires developing distribution channels, establishing local sales teams, and managing logistics to deliver products to international markets.

Indirect exporting

Indirect exporting involves using intermediaries, such as export agents or distributors, to facilitate product sales in international markets. This strategy allows businesses to contact customers in other countries without establishing a physical presence by leveraging the experience and network of local partners.

Cooperative exporting

Cooperative exporting is an international expansion strategy that involves collaborating with other businesses to gain access to foreign markets collectively. This strategy allows companies to pool their resources, share costs, and jointly enter new markets.

Licensing and franchising

a franchise cafe

Source: Unsplash

Licensing and franchising allow businesses to expand their influence while reducing their direct involvement in international markets.


Licensing is an international expansion strategy that involves granting another company the right to manufacture or sell products bearing the licensor's trademark or intellectual property. The licensee pays royalties or licensing fees to the licensor in exchange for the rights and support provided.


Franchising is the process of allowing an independent party to operate a business using the franchisor's existing brand, systems, and processes. The franchisee pays the franchisor an initial franchise fee as well as monthly royalties.

Joint ventures and strategic alliances

office building

Source: Unsplash

Joint ventures and strategic alliances involve collaboration between two or more companies to gain access to local expertise, distribution networks, and pooled resources.

Joint ventures

A joint venture is an international expansion example whereby two or more companies form a separate legal entity to pursue a specific business venture. Each partner contributes resources and expertise and also shares risks and profits.

Strategic alliances

These are cooperative agreements between businesses that do not lead to the formation of a separate legal entity. Partners work together while maintaining their separate identities and enterprises. Strategic alliances can involve shared marketing efforts, joint research and development, or technology transfer.

Foreign direct investment (FDI)

a person holding cash

Source: Pexels

FDI is an international expansion process that is used to develop a physical presence in a foreign market. It involves a company directly investing capital, resources, and expertise from one country into another.

Foreign direct investment offers businesses increased market access and a physical presence in the target market, thereby allowing them to build relationships with local suppliers, distributors, and customers.

Greenfield investment

In greenfield investment, a company establishes its operations in a foreign market from scratch. This includes building new facilities, recruiting a local workforce, and establishing distribution networks.

Greenfield investments allow businesses to adjust their operations to the specific needs of their target market. It also allows them to retain full ownership and management of their company.

Acquisition or merger

It entails buying or partnering with an established company in a foreign market. This strategy for international expansion allows companies to enter a market rapidly and use the acquired or merged company's established infrastructure, customer base, and brand recognition.

Companies that buy or merge with a local organization can benefit from rapid market access as well as the acquired company's local knowledge and skills.

Illustration of How You Can Implement International Expansion Strategies

Let’s assume Company A is a software development firm headquartered in the United States that offers enterprise-level software solutions to different sectors. Company A decides to expand and enter new, untapped markets as part of its international growth strategy.

Here's how Company A can use the different international expansion examples to achieve its objectives:


Company A might pursue direct exporting as its initial expansion strategy by performing market research and identifying possible target markets in Europe. It can build relationships with local distributors in European countries and create logistics infrastructure to ensure efficient product delivery.

Company A can reach new clients and create revenue without creating a physical presence in international countries by directly exporting its software solutions.


After successfully establishing a presence in Europe via direct exporting, Company A can explore the licensing approach to further expand its international reach. It can collaborate with another software development firm in a market that it wants to enter but lacks the requisite local knowledge (for example, the Japanese market).

Company A can license its software solutions to a Japanese company, allowing them to localize and distribute their products in Japan. This approach allows Company A to quickly enter the Japanese market while leveraging the partner's knowledge of local business practices.

Joint ventures

Company A might potentially form a joint venture with a local technology company in Brazil to expand its influence in emerging markets. This will allow the company to establish a physical presence and have access to the partner's established customer base and distribution network.

By pooling resources and expertise, the joint venture will develop customized software solutions exclusively for the Brazilian market. This approach will provide localized products and services to satisfy the unique demands of local businesses.

Foreign direct investment

Company A may decide to pursue a foreign direct investment strategy as its international expansion efforts continue to grow. They can establish a greenfield venture in India, which is a fast-rising market for software solutions.

Company A can establish a cutting-edge software development hub in India, employing local workers and leveraging the skilled labor of the target country. This investment will give Company A complete control over its operations, allowing it to effectively service the Indian market.

Risks of International Expansion

Entering international markets can provide tremendous opportunities, but it also has some risks. Companies must be aware of these risks and implement appropriate measures to combat them.

Below are the most significant international expansion risks:

Political, legal, and compliance issues

Offering your products or services in foreign countries exposes you to political and legal risks. Changes in government policy, trade barriers, taxes, and regulatory requirements can all represent major risks.

A rapid change in the political landscape or a change in legislation can influence market conditions, disrupt operations, and even lead to business collapse. Companies must extensively evaluate the political and legal environments of their target markets and pay attention to prospective changes that may influence their operations.

Economic risks

Economic risks, such as exchange rate fluctuations, inflation, recession, and economic instability in the target country, can have negative impacts on your strategy for international expansion.

These risks can affect profitability, the cost of doing business, and financial stability. For instance, currency devaluation can reduce profits and make it more difficult to import goods.

Uncertainties in the international economy can also have an impact on consumer spending power and demand for goods and services. Businesses must examine and monitor economic factors in their target markets to make informed decisions and build risk-mitigation strategies.

Cultural and social risks

Entering new markets entails learning about new cultures, customs, and social norms. Failure to recognize and adjust to these nuances can result in misunderstandings and miscommunication, thereby damaging a brand’s reputation. Cultural differences can influence consumer choices, purchasing behavior, and even brand impressions.

It is also important to consider social and ethical factors, as what is acceptable in one society may not be acceptable in another. To effectively navigate these risks, businesses must invest in cross-cultural training, engage local partners or consultants, and establish cultural and social norm awareness.

Operational and logistical risks

Some operational and logistical risks that you can encounter while entering new business sectors include transportation issues, supply chain disruptions, logistics complexities, and the requirement for local infrastructure and resources. Differences in infrastructure quality and technological capabilities can affect efficient operations.

To mitigate this risk, you need to develop contingency plans and build resilient supply chains.

Role of Localization in International Expansion

Incorporating appropriate localization strategies into a strategy for international expansion can contribute to a company’s success and sustainability. Highlighted below are the roles that localization plays in international expansion:

Language and cultural adaptation

While English is widely spoken and understood in many parts of the world, accommodating local language preferences can have a significant impact on customer engagement and satisfaction.

Cultural adaptation will also help improve international expansion by adjusting marketing messages, visuals, and brand positioning to local market sensitivities and values.

Pro tip: Streamline your international expansion and seamlessly adapt your products and content to new markets by using efficient localization management tools, like Centus. Learn more.

Customization of products and services

Localization also helps in tailoring products and services to the specific needs of each market. This could involve changing product features, functioning, or design to conform to local preferences and requirements.

Businesses can demonstrate their dedication to serving the specific needs of clients in different markets by delivering customized offerings, thereby strengthening their strategy for international expansion.

Local marketing and communication strategies

Marketing localization plays a key role in adapting advertising campaigns, slogans, graphics, and promotional materials to reflect local culture, values, and preferences.

Businesses can achieve their international expansion goals by using successful local marketing strategies that effectively explain their value proposition, develop brand awareness, and generate customer engagement.

To Sum Up

Implementing an effective strategy for international expansion is a complex but rewarding task for companies that want to expand their business globally. A well-planned and executed strategy can create new growth opportunities, diversify revenue streams, and boost the overall competitiveness of a company.

Centus helps businesses achieve their international expansion goals by enabling them to effectively adapt their products, services, and content to local markets. Learn more.


What are international expansion strategies?

International expansion strategies are methods that businesses use to enter and grow in foreign markets. Some factors that affect these strategies include target markets, industry, and company size.

What is an example of an expansion strategy?

An example of an expansion strategy is franchising. This entails charging other entrepreneurs a fee to use the company's business model and brand name.

What are the four international expansion strategies?

The 4 international expansion strategies include:

  • Exporting

  • Licensing

  • Joint ventures, and

  • Foreign direct investment

What are the five levels of business expansion?

According to the model developed by Churchill and Virginia, the five levels of business expansion are existence, survival, success, take-off, and resource maturity.

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