Pricing Excellence: Irish exporters need to develop a robust pricing structure to safeguard their business

We are currently entering a period of high inflation, with prices rising in the EU, the UK and the US. Even at home, the Irish Consumer Price Index rose to 1.7% for the year to May 2021. But after several years of stable prices, many companies are unprepared for the commercial implications of inflation, leaving them vulnerable both now and in the future – and this, according to the results of the Pricing Excellence study recently commissioned by Enterprise Ireland, is a very real worry for Irish companies operating in every country.

Having a robust pricing strategy is important in every sector, but thanks to a prolonged period of low inflation, this skill has been underused and underdeveloped. “Pricing is a fundamental capability and relevant in every market,” says Deirdre McPartlin, Director UK at Enterprise Ireland. “It’s not a dark art or something mysterious, it’s a strategy that companies need to develop and fine-tune over many years. It has even been described as a ‘memory muscle’ that unfortunately has weakened over the years of low inflation. A pricing strategy requires both skill and confidence, and these can – and must – be learned and developed.”

Why a good pricing strategy is so vital

“For business to business companies, many of the SMEs we look after are dealing with powerful procurement departments that are highly skilled at getting the lowest prices,” says Deirdre. “Or they may be going up against bigger corporates that have very sophisticated pricing systems and strategies. And with online marketplaces and increased digitalisation, pricing is more transparent than ever – but it’s hard to explain value in those instances or compare like with like. And then there are companies with something completely new – how do you set a pricing strategy in a brand-new market?”

 

Not charging enough

An increasing number of Enterprise Ireland client companies have reported that they are finding the subject of pricing strategy more challenging recently. “We see clients that are so skilled at innovating, that work incredibly hard in winning a customer and in keeping a customer,” says Deirdre. “But they say that trying to monetise that innovation requires skill and confidence, so that pricing is not just ‘cost plus’.

We see customers with order books going out 18 months and yet they’re operating on the thinnest of margins – so they clearly have a very valuable product or they have customers that they’ve maintained for 10 years but they’re not getting the profit margin.” says McPartlin

If you are struggling to find the margin to invest in sales & marketing or R&D to grow and protect your business, but you’re keeping your customers, then maybe you’re not charging for all you provide.”

To look at the challenges being face by Irish companies around the area of pricing, Enterprise Ireland partnered with international pricing and strategy consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners to conduct a survey of Enterprise Ireland client companies on pricing strategy. This was the first multi-sectoral pricing survey of Irish companies, and the results were compared with the global averages from Simon-Kucher & Partner’s Global Pricing Study 2021, which evaluates the pricing and growth strategies of companies across all industries worldwide.

The study involved a survey of nearly 500 Enterprise Ireland client companies covering 12 industries. The sample included respondents across top and middle management positions in a range of B2B and B2C industries. And the results echoed what Enterprise Ireland has been hearing since the end of 2000 – that Irish companies were still producing goods and solutions valued by the market, but that profit margins were increasingly under pressure.

According to the survey, Irish exporters have shown great resilience through the challenges posed by both Brexit and Covid-19, with 54% of companies reporting improving profits in 2020, comparing well with the global average of 59%. 

According to the survey, Irish exporters have shown great resilience through the challenges posed by both Brexit and Covid-19, with 54% of companies reporting improving profits in 2020, comparing well with the global average of 59%.

But with volume gain consistently identified as the key profit driver, and only 8% predicting that these improvements in profits will be sustainable in the long term, any profit gains are highly vulnerable to the impact of inflation rises.

From the survey, 71% of respondents were planning a price increase in 2021, with 35% of respondents targeting price increases above the inflation rate and 34% planning a price increase in line with inflation. But the average realisation rate for price increases was 21%, which means that a company trying to raise prices by 2% would only achieve around a 0.4% increase on average. This puts many companies at risk of significant margin erosion – even if they were targeting for increases above inflation rates.

 

Building skills and confidence in pricing strategy

Price is the strongest profit lever for companies ahead of cost control and increase in sales volume, and these results clearly show that Irish exporters need to develop a sustainable pricing strategy. Not only is this important to protect profit margins, but it’s also needed to future-proof the business, by giving them the resources to invest in research and development, as well as the means to invest in important business functions like sales and marketing activities.

“It’s not price gouging or exploitation, it’s about getting a fair price for the value that you are delivering,” says Deirdre. “We’re living in a time of inflation, which is relatively new for a lot of companies – for instance, we talked to some clients who hadn’t put in place a price increase for nine years. The study clearly shows the need for companies to invest time and skills into a pricing strategy that will equip the company for future growth and success.”

Watch our on-demand webinar with Mark Billige, CEO of Simon-Kucher & Partners to learn the steps needed to implement a price increase process.

Karen_Hernandez

People management and the new work landscape

 

For the past year and a half, employees across the country and indeed the world have found themselves in the unusual position of working from home. But now that some sort of normality is returning to our lives, many industry bosses are keen for their staff to put in a physical presence at the office – however, an overwhelming majority would like to continue working remotely in some way or other.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, the nature of work has changed as, for many businesses, Covid has accelerated the move to remote working,” says Karen Hernández, Senior Executive – People & Management Pillar – with Enterprise Ireland. “Overall, this has been a positive move as many companies have found that productivity has remained the same or even increased during this period.

“A recent survey, conducted by the Whittaker Institute and NUI Galway, found that 95% of respondents would like to work remotely at least some of the time – and with this in mind companies are now seeking to set up appropriate means of supporting remote, hybrid and flexible working.”

 

Challenges ahead

But while this new landscape brings both opportunities and challenges, Hernández says companies should also consider how to address some of the medium-term HR and management challenges now facing their business.

“Possible issues include looking at ways to implement flexible working to suit both the business and the employees, utilising office space while many are working remotely and motivating managers and employees while they are engaged in work outside of the office,” says Hernández

“In addition, staff may be anxious about returning to the workplace, so it is also important to consider health and well-being supports and be aware that remote working attracts the same rights and responsibilities as office-based work in terms of pay, benefits, health and safety and work time.

“But where businesses are employing staff from other jurisdictions, they need to be clear that the employment rights, which govern the terms and conditions of employment, are those of the country where the individual is physically working.”

 

No one-size fits all model

The people management expert says while research indicates that a majority of employees want to keep working remotely, in some format, employers must understand that they run the risk of losing their best talent if they force everyone back to the office.

“Transitioning to a fully remote or hybrid work model may seem easy as we have all been doing it for 18 months,” she says. “But in reality, getting remote and hybrid working right for the long-term is actually very complex and requires significant planning and communication with employees.

“Firstly, companies really need to consider what’s best for them as a business as well as their employees. What’s right for one company may not be right for another, so a good starting point is to survey managers and staff to understand their needs. Then companies need to review and consider how easy it will be for employees to carry out responsibilities remotely – flexibility is key here as what works for one person, may not work for another.”

 

New skills needed

Maintaining engagement and motivating staff is incredibly important and Hernández says that managers need to develop new skills to engage employees in remote and hybrid work environments.

“There needs to be regular two-way communication, via surveys, focus groups and all-hands meetings,” she says. “This is essential going forward and companies need to establish a culture of trust, with value placed on deliverables rather than on input or time spent online.

“In addition, managers need to have the skills to lead and manage remotely – and this may require some additional training.  So, companies need to look out for signs of stress and over-work among employees as it is more difficult to spot in a remote environment.  Indeed, many are reporting that the merging of work and home life is making it difficult to switch off outside work hours and this is exacerbated when the work culture is focused on presenteeism, as employees feel that their time is being monitored.”

Support from Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is aware that companies may need assistance when it comes to ensuring a smooth return to the office or developing an efficient hybrid or remote working model. So in in conjunction with Voltedge Management Ltd, it has developed Emerging through Covid-19: The Future of Work to help Irish companies to consider and reflect on these and other HR challenges they are likely to face over the coming months.

“Its purpose is to help business leaders to understand how the world of work has changed over the past year and consider the impact these changes may have on the expectations and motivations of both current and prospective employees,” says Karen Hernández.  “Our intention is to provide insight into good HR practice and to encourage businesses to think about what approaches or responses may be right for them.”

 

Click here to download your copy of the guide.

Update on the AMP7 spending cycle and Green Webinar title: UK Water Sector, Recovery Investment Plans

The UK Water Sector and the AMP7 spending cycle – Webinar

This webinar provides an update to the UK Water Sector and the AMP7 spending cycle and Green Recovery Investment Plans.

Hosted by Enterprise Ireland and British Water the webinar discusses the key topics facing the sector with insights provide by industry experts:

  • Lee Horrocks, Director, LCH Executive

  • Lila Thompson, Chief Executive, British Water

  • Matt Lewis, Water Innovation Portfolio Manager, Severn Trent

  • Paul Gardner, Managing Director, Glanagua (UK)

  • Mike Froom, BD Director, TE Tech solutions (part of the Trant Group)

Gain key business insights with our on-demand UK webinar series.

    Steve Keogh - Graduate Programmes

    Graduate Stories – Flying the flag for Irish businesses in international markets

    Steve Keogh title

    Steve Keogh participated in Enterprise Ireland’s international graduate programme working as a Trade Development Executive in the Austin, Texas, office. On completion of the programme he made the move back to Europe and is now based in Brussels working as a Market Advisor

    The Graduate Programme at Enterprise Ireland gave me the opportunity to see the world while flying the flag for Irish businesses in international markets. My story is slightly different in that I’m 37 years old and ran a family business in Dublin for many years before deciding that I wanted to do something bigger. While studying Business Management in Tallaght I became interested in Enterprise Ireland and went on to complete an International Management Masters in Trinity before joining the Graduate Programme.

     

    Applying for the Graduate Programme

    The application process for the Graduate Programme is fairly intense. First you need to write an essay about why you’re good for the role. Then there are online tests to do before a video interview. The group scenarios can seem quite intimidating. In one instance there are five applicants with five individual assessors taking notes and watching your performance as you work through a case study completing tasks and discussing the assignment in front of the group. While it can be intimidating it is worth it for the benefits and experience that the Enterprise Ireland graduate programme provides.

    If I were to give one piece of advice to applicants who face the same test it would be that this is not the time to discuss your thesis; this is a test to see how you would act on the ground in the market. Many candidates think that the assessors want to see their knowledge of a topic, when it’s actually a practical test to see what impactful decisions you would make that would help our clients. This test is reflective of the job itself – on any given day, you’ll receive a call from a client looking for contacts or networking opportunities – your job is to connect them with the right person/people, sector knowledge is important but so is practicality. Time is money over here.

    If you’re interested in the position, you need to be bold and confident. There’s no room to be timid around ideas, instead be brave enough to voice the ideas that you think would make the most impact.

    “Go in with a positive mental attitude and let your willingness to work hard and do the job show.” advises Steve Keogh.

     

    Networking is key

    The job itself is intensive. You are representative of Ireland on the ground in a foreign business community. I can’t put a figure on the number of tasks you might be asked to do. It’s literally anything and everything that would help Irish companies win exports in a foreign market. It’s about knowledge and networking – the knowledge of the leading sectors in your market, and the contacts you make through attending shows, events and so on.

     

    Making an impact for Irish business

    Nothing makes more of an impact than if a company rings up looking for advice on how to get into a sector and you’re able to introduce them to the major players and progress an introduction– you’ve just saved them a lot of time and a lot of headaches. And on the flip side you will have lots of people coming to market with a product that mightn’t be suitable – your knowledge of the market could save them time and money if you can direct them to the best market fit for their product.

    One of my favourite success story’s features a company from Tipperary called Saint Killians that produces candle units for churches. Their products make it so that when the candle burns down, the wick drops into a water bath underneath for safe extinguishing. About a week after I stepped into this role, they contacted me and asked for help to sell into Texas for the first time. This was my first task and I felt I had something to prove so I got on the phone to every priest from Houston to Dallas and back, and now, if you go to 10th Street in Austin, there’s a church there with a candle unit from a company in Tipperary – and I got it there! That’s the sort of impact you can have for an Irish company and the feeling of being able to point to it and say: “I did that” is extraordinary.

    “Enterprise Ireland gives you the opportunity to do genuinely meaningful work for Irish companies in international markets.” says Steve Keogh.

     

    One Year Later

    One year later and I am sitting in the Enterprise Ireland Benelux office on the 14th floor of Sablon tower in city centre Brussels. It’s been an interesting transition to say the least and I feel invigorated by the challenge of a new region, new team dynamics and business culture.

    I have started a new position as a Market Advisor for digital solutions and will be working with colleagues in the wider Eurozone team to deliver impact for clients in cyber security, ICT and more. That’s what’s great about Enterprise Ireland, the opportunities for progression and exciting challenges are there. It takes a combination of patience, opportunity and results but if successful you can join one of the overseas offices in a new region and gain an entirely new cultural experience, or advance in your career in HQ at Eastpoint and remain at the forefront of innovation.

    The preceding year was challenging for businesses globally as we all transitioned into the world of virtual work, restricted travel, and general uncertainty. Working from Austin I was able to witness first-hand the adaptability of the Enterprise Ireland team and we all pivoted into new ways of delivering impact for clients. Through webinars, virtual pitch events, business accelerators and network we could still deliver key supports to help win new business and expand existing relationships for our clients.

    For those wishing to progress beyond the grad programme in Enterprise Ireland, your demonstration of capability will increase your responsibility. My portfolio was expanded to include the energy and aerospace sectors for the US and I thoroughly enjoyed finding new opportunities for clients in these markets. The development of meaningful relationships with your clients will be key in your success.  The clients I worked with had incredible offerings and exceptional business development skills so once I could find the right opportunity for them, I was confident that they would work their magic and get results. Building trust with your manager and team will open doors to new opportunities and keeping a keen eye on new or unexplored sectors in your region will provide a platform to demonstrate your innovative thinking. In this regard I particularly enjoyed looking at the commercial space and renewable energy sectors in the US.

    I think ultimately that there is an element of job fit that comes into play. It won’t take you long to figure out if this is the sort of role you enjoy and if it is the right one doors tend to open.

    If you are successful in joining the programme, you have gained the opportunity of a lifetime. Whether you stay on with Enterprise Ireland or take up a new role in a different organisation, the skillset, network and confidence you will have gained set you up for success in any new endeavour.

    To learn how Enterprise Ireland’s Graduate Programme can help you take the next step in your career visit National ProgrammeInternational Programme.

    The Future of UK Ports – Overview, trends and opportunities

    As the UK ports industry enters a time of significant transformation, we hear from leading market experts on the latest trends and opportunities for Irish suppliers in the sector.

    This webinar examines:

    • Ports for offshore wind

    • Freeports

    • Port decarbonisation

    • Smart ports and digitalisation

     

    Contact our UK Cleantech Market Executive or gain key business insights with our on-demand UK webinar series.

      Why Export title

      Export Journey: Step 1 – Why Export?

      Why Export title - image of woman packing a box

      In a post-Covid world access to international markets, buyers, distributors and information is now at the fingertips of Irish SMEs thanks to increased digitalisation.

      When looking towards new markets, it is important to consider the potential benefits of exporting for your company such as;

      1. Diversification of market and reduced vunerability

      A well considered diversification plan can minimise a dependency on the domestic market and the potential exposure to domestic downturn.

      2. Increased revenue and scale

      Exporting opens channels to exponentially expand the home market and identify new markets to take advantage of globally. A larger market base delivers economies of scale, enabling you to maximise your resources.

      3. Improved profitability

      Your ongoing domestic operation should cover business-as-usual fixed costs, either directly or via other types of business financing, which should, in turn, facilitate a faster growth in your export profits.

      4. Best practice and knowledge

      Accessing global markets will provide additional benefits to an exporter, aside from increased revenues such as new ways of doing business, increased awareness of global best practice, cultural and international competitiveness, that could also bring benefits to your market offering in Ireland.

      5. Domestic competitiveness

      Considering your company’s export potential will increase its resilience against potential competition within the domestic market.

       

       

      Assess & validate title and two women at a computer screen

      Export Journey: Step 2 – Assess & Validate

      Assess & Validate title and business people

      Before beginning your export journey you must clearly identify your target market.  You may have preferences based on previous experience, understanding of the language or culture or simply some connection with the market, though a good starting point it’s not enough of a reason to export to this market.

      Market Research will form the backbone of your export strategy as you begin to validate your plans.

      The key elements for consideration are:

      • What makes your product unique
      • Who are your competitors in your selected research market?
      • Who are the buyers in that market?
      • How does your product compare in terms of pricing?
      • How is the product sold in that market?
      • What are the local regulations, certification for selling your product and can you currently comply?
      • A clear understanding as to why you have selected this market as the potential first market.

      What supports are available?

      If your business is at an early development stage the Local Enterprise Office has the supports to help you plan, start and grow

      If you are are already supported by Enterprise Ireland you can contact your Development Advisor here.

      The Market Research Centre provides access to world class research databases to help client companies make better, more informed business decisions. Contact the Market Research Centre here

      Enterprise Ireland hosts events to assist companies’ growth plans – See our events calendar for details.

      Our Market pages and Going Global guides provide expert insights and contact details for our overseas offices.

      Learn how our Exporter Development team can support your growth.

       

       

       

      Positioning Strategy title and businessman

      Export Journey: Step 3 – Positioning Strategy

      Positioning Strategy title and businessman

      Your positioning strategy should set out what you will do to achieve a favourable perception in your new export market.

      Typically companies will try to achieve the same brand positioning regardless of the market. A coherent positioning strategy can be hugely advantageous, so it’s important when reviewing the export potential of your products/goods or services to consider the following:

      1. Customer profiles

      • What is your current USP and will this translate to your new foreign export markets ?
      • Do you understand your domestic customer profile? E.g. age profile, socio-economic grouping etc.
      • Are there other significant demographic patterns to your product or service’s usage?
      • Have you considered the need to modify your product/service to facilitate differences in language, culture and business environments?
      • How do you plan to deliver your services to foreign markets ? In person, via a local partner or using digital resources?

      2. Market Pricing and Value Propostion

      • Consideration whether any necessary changes to make your product/service more appealing to foreign markets and customers?
      • If you’re exporting services, what makes them unique within global markets?
      • Have you benchmarked your services in a global context? Would they be considered to be world-class and stand up to stronger scrutiny?
      • Have you considered the cost implications of servicing overseas markets? Including FX rates and fluctuations?
      • Does your product have a shelf life and will this be impacted by time in transit?
      • Will your packaging have the same impact in a foreign market or can it be easily modified to satisfy new demands?
      • Are there any climatic or geographic factors that could affect the uptake of your product or service in other markets?

      3. Route to Market

      • Do you need special export licensing or documentation to export? i.e. technical or regulatory requirements localised to the market?
      • Are there considerations for the safe transportation of your product to global markets ? i.e. specialized containers or packaging materials?
      • Would transportation costs make competitive pricing a problem?
      • How efficiently does your target market process incoming shipments?

      4. Capacity to support

      • In the event that your domestic/export demand increases beyond current projections, will you still be able to look after both markets?
      • Will you be able to serve both your existing domestic customers and any new foreign clients?

       

      5. Further considerations

      • Do you require a local presence or representation?
      • Will your products/service require local professional support or can this be done digitally?
      • Will after-sales service be required ? Can it be easily sourced locally or do you have to provide it? Does you have the resources to provide it?
      • Are there legal / IP implications to consider when entering global markets?

      Once your positioning strategy is in development, it’s time to consider how to develop your export strategy and access your target market.

       

      Take the next step in the Export Journey

       

      Export Strategy title and port image

      Export Journey: Step 4 – Developing your Export Strategy

      The next step is your export plan. You may have ideas but you need to clearly communicate them in writing so that your whole team is clear on their responsibilities. Having a plan laid out makes it easier to spot pitfalls, gaps and even additional opportunities!

      The export plan is also key in seeking supports in term of financing or grants.  Don’t overcomplicate it, keep it clear and simple.

      The key elements of a successful export plan include:

      1. The Vision

      • What you are going to do. How you are going to do it. What your expected outcome is.

      2. Human Resources

      • Have you the staff, external support and expertise? Have you skills within your team to manage language and cultural differences?

      3. Financial Resources

      • Budget, Sales targets and Pricing – Consider the additional costs involved in selling into the overseas market. Establish a target price for the end user, taking into consideration currency, payment terms, freight and carriage charges, import duties and taxes, commission to partners and competitors’ pricing.

      4. Target Market

      • Why you have selected this market; who your buyers are.

      5. Your Product

      • Your USP and how it translates internationally. Are there external factors which could impact production or sales?

      6. Market Entry

      • Sales channels; marketing plan; regulations, language and local laws.

      7. Monitoring and Developing the market

      • Are you meeting sales targets?

      8. What’s next?

      • How do you plan to grow and scale?

      Access the Market Entry Page

       

       

       

      Market Entry title and businesswoman image

      Export Journey: Step 5 – Market Entry

      Market Entry title and businesswoman image

      Your next priority is for the execution of your company’s vision within new export markets. Key to this will be preparing the company for this change and subsequent increased demand from and servicing of new export markets.

      Consideration for a successful market entry should include;

      1.Identify and allocate adequate resources such as:

        • Financial resources i.e. cash required to sufficiently support overseas exports
        • Additional equipment or fixed assets needed to increase volume or backup global sales
        • People, including staff, suppliers or other valuable relationships in Ireland or overseas

      2. Defining where your first sales will come from

      Will your customers be a distributor which imports in larger quantities, or an overseas agenct or representative acting on your behalf or will it be a separate trading company of your own business?

      3. Developing your lead generation strategy

      Supports will need to be assigned to generate business leads. Will they be predominantly offline, online or a hybrid?

      Offline: fairs, events, conferences, network meetings or

      Online: website, social media, blogs etc.

      You will need to qualify and validate the leads, managing them through a Customer Relationship Management (CMS) system such as Salesforce.

      4. Marketing and communications

      Implementing a successful marketing and communication plan is vital for sustained sales in export markets.

      When developing a plan, it is important not to do a ‘copy and paste’ of the same marketing strategy from your domestic market as these are likely completely disparate territories. While it is logical that you should retain your company values and purpose, you will need to adapt your marketing and communications strategy to your new export market

      5. Implementing a sales process

      By implementing a sales process, you are creating a set of logical, repeatable steps that your sales team goes through to bring a potential buyer from an early stage of awareness to closing the sale. There are various stages that need to be considered in developing an effective sales process, such as;

      a) How will your company cultivate your sales leads?

      b) What preparation will you commit to in order to be ready to capture an overseas sale?

      c) What will be your sales teams approach to a prospective buyer?

      d) How will you adequately present or pitch your sales in an overseas market?

      e) Is your team setup to deal with buyer objections or queries?

      f) Have you experience in closing a sale in an overseas market?

      g) What follow-up work will be done post buyer presentation?

      6. Relationship building

      Relationship building is a key factor in developing sustained sales in export markets. Any company considering to expand globally is undoubtedly looking for a return on their initial investment, and companies looking for better business returns are strongly encouraged to place an emphasis on relationship building.

      Companies can quite often focus on the transactional, revenue generation portion before they consider relationship building. However, as is the case in much of the world, relationships based on mutual respect and trust outplay singular transactions. Relationships need to be worked on and require different approaches for different markets.

      Take the next step in the Export Journey

      Scale title and background image of modern city

      Export Journey: Step 6 – Scale

      Scale title and background image of modern cityYou are now successfully exporting to your first market. Now begin to build on this success and grow your exports.

      You will now have built up a good relationship with the overseas market team and keeping up to date on buyer trends and external factors impacting these trends will enable you to stay competitive.

      Factors to consider in your plans to scale exports:

      1. Resources

      Do you have the necessary resources both in terms of staff and finance to meet the demand of a new market?

      2. Capacity

      Do you have the manufacturing, packaging, logistics, linguistic capacity?

      3. Environmental

      Have you considered your carbon footprint; requirements of buyers?

      4. Sustainable Growth

      How will this impact your current financial standing? Will it strengthen or dilute your position in the market?

      5. Adjacent Markets

      Is there potential in the adjacent markets where buying patterns, pricing and local regulations may be similar?

       

      How can Enterprise Ireland support your growth?

      If you are are already supported by Enterprise Ireland you can contact your Development Advisor here.

      The Market Research Centre provides access to world class research databases to help client companies make better, more informed business decisions. Contact the Market Research Centre here

      Enterprise Ireland hosts events to assist companies’ growth plans – See our events calendar for details.

      Our Market pages and Going Global guides provide expert insights and contact details for our overseas offices.

      Learn how our Exporter Development team can support your growth.

      Cubic Telecom - MRC case study title

      Market research vital for success in the German automotive industry

      Cubic Telecom - MRC case study - Gerry McQuaid CCO

      With businesses facing more and more challenges by the day, the need to find growth areas within your chosen sectors has become even more important.

      For life sciences, pharmaceuticals, automotive and e-commerce, the DACH region, consisting of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, is a growing market actively looking for innovative solutions to push the sectors forward. In fact, in 2020 companies supported by Enterprise Ireland had exports from Ireland to DACH totalling over €1.8 billion.

      One Irish company that has seen the opportunity within the DACH region is Cubic Telecom, a business that produces an innovative platform called PACE to bring 24/7 connected software in cars to a new level. The opportunities for such a platform are huge – in 2019, the global connected car market was valued at $63.03 billion, and it’s projected to reach $225.16 billion by 2027. Not surprisingly, as the centre of the automotive industry in Europe and home to many world-leading car makers, the German market has a significant share in this growth.

      But when entering such a huge market as the German automotive industry, research is vital to ensure that any partnerships formed are strategic and sustainable – as Cubic understood from the very start. This is where Enterprise Ireland, and specifically its Market Research Centre and the Enterprise Ireland team in Dusseldorf, were able to help.

      “We did not simply select Germany as a generic target market,” Cubic Telecom CCO Gerry McQuaid says. “We looked at the world’s biggest automotive manufacturers and decided which companies we wished to build a partnership with. This naturally led us to Germany, the home of some of the world’s top auto manufacturers.”

      “We were very careful to take the time to understand what is required to do business successfully with large prestigious German companies and we had excellent support from the Enterprise Ireland team in Germany.” Cubic Telecom CCO Gerry McQuaid

      Platform for success

      Cubic Telecom’s solutions are indispensable for the whole range of services used by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) through the connectivity of cars, including entertainment, safety, driver assistance and vehicle management. Specifically, Cubic’s PACE platform enables cars and other devices to automatically connect to high-speed local mobile networks around the world securely and compliantly, while the PLXOR solution offers a single view of how content services are consumed across global fleets. And, its newest product, INSIGHTS, provides the business intelligence needed to see exactly how a fleet is performing, with real-time monitoring and alerting capabilities.

      Already, Cubic has enjoyed much success, connecting over 7 million devices and vehicles in 103 markets across Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, Africa and Asia-Pacific. The company’s major opportunity in the automotive market is in its current partnership with the Volkswagen Group; already the company has established roll outs with OEMs like Skoda or Porsche, with more models to be added.

      “We were delighted to partner with the leading automotive brands within Volkswagen Group and this partnership has been an intrinsic part of developing our business success in Germany,” says McQuaid

      This strategic partnership was carefully planned and researched by the Cubic team. From their initial introduction into Germany, the Enterprise Ireland office in Germany supported Cubic’s progress within the automotive industry. With important connections across the German automotive and future mobility ecosystem, and a comprehensive overview of the economic landscape, the German office can advise companies not only in the early phases with finding the right approach and direction, but also with advanced business development when pivoting new sub-sectors or intensify current activities.

      Guidance from the German office proved very supportive for Cubic when it was entering the market in the early days. It now provides German brands such as Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche with a fully digital experience for their drivers.

      Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre also played a key role. Client companies can use the centre to gain access to company, sector, market and country information needed to explore opportunities and compete in international markets. This allows companies like Cubic to assess and validate a market before developing an export strategy with support from the local office.

      In fact, the approach proved so successful that Gerry recommends it to any company seeking to enter new markets. “Start by considering the needs of the customer you are selling to, what solution you are selling, who you need to sell it to and what markets those target customers are in. Then leverage the Enterprise Ireland regional offices to get introductions to the people in that market who you need to meet.”

      Learn how Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre can support your company’s export ambitions.