Covering an enormous area and comprised of more than 40 countries as well as 4.3 billion people, Asia Pacific has been an attractive market to enter for some time. It has enjoyed considerable growth in the last few decades yet many of the tiger economies are still considered to be emerging. China is of course a global superpower but for the others, their economies are being driven by high levels of industrialisation and a reliance on exports. The pace of change and growth in the market is relentless and some brands struggle to keep up. The antidote to this is to keep strategic plans short term and adaptable to be able to cope with the ever increasing speed of the market’s evolution.
The sheer size of the APAC region makes it difficult to consider it as one market. The geographical size alone means that many countries do not have much of a shared history, certainly not when compared to their European counterparts. The differences in language and culture are stark and even if you can speak one of the 35 APAC languages to a native level, this will not be enough to cover the whole territory and you will need the help of others. On top of this, each country has different laws and taxes and in this region, politics may also play a role. This is where it would make sense to outsource your sales initially, at least until you are more established in the region. The benefits of this are that you will be working with professionals who are on the ground, in the territory you want to enter. They speak the local language, understand the culture and most of all, regardless of your domain, they understand how business is conducted in each country. Without having someone to guide you, you may find it more difficult to make an impression on the market.
The Market Itself
The Asia Pacific region’s economy took a big hit during the pandemic. This is because containment strategies worked extremely well early on and consequently, vaccine uptake was slow. This meant that when the second wave hit, they were more vulnerable than other regions. However, despite this, the APAC economy remained and is still the fastest growing economy in the world and there’s no reason to believe that the upward trend will end any time soon. The future looks extremely bright indeed. Part of the reason for this is that many sovereign territories have amended domestic legislation to open up their markets to foreign competition and are changing things to improve the ease of doing business. You do still need to remember though that there is no unified code of regulations and each territory needs to be treated on its own merits. It is never safe to assume that the rules will be the same in two countries even if they are in close proximity to each other.
Business Etiquette in the APAC region
Every country has its own customs and traditions but the APAC region is possibly more diverse than any other grouping such as the EMEA or MENA. This means it would be best to research the business etiquette of each country before approaching them but below, you’ll find some traits that are pretty common across all territories.
Business cards are treated with more reverence in Asia Pacific that they are here. They should be given and received with two hands and be read before placing on the table or in your pocket. Ideally you’ll have one side of your business card translated into the local language of the country you’re visiting.
Seniority and hierarchy are highly respected in the Asia Pacific region, so remember to address people by their official titles until you are invited to do otherwise. This will help to develop a relationship, the importance of which cannot be said enough. Whether it’s business to business or even a more personal interaction, relationship building in this region is absolutely crucial to the point where it may actually define your success in the territory.
It is crucial that you do research into the APAC market and how it relates to your domain. Also, be aware that poor opportunities in one territory is not a reflection of the region as a whole and you may be able to find better opportunities elsewhere but still inside the Asia Pacific region.
With such a vast geographical area, it is inevitable that you will find some competition regardless of where you settle, but don’t let that put you off. Competition is the surest way of proving there is a market for your product or service and if you are scaling from America or Europe that may have some cachet, so competition is not something to be too wary of.
Lastly, because of the differences between the individual countries in the APAC region, it would be wise to have a team on the ground in each territory you wish to enter. To that end, we have teams across Asia Pacific who are local, know the culture and business nuances of their country and have contacts that you’ll want to speak to.
To see how we could help you to enter the APAC market, get in touch. We’re always happy to jump on a call.