International expansion is complex. Distinct consumer preferences, competitive differences, and increased operational challenges require executives to make tough trade-offs when selecting new countries to enter at the expense of other attractive markets. The analysis required to address global expansion can be significant, especially when plotting growth amid constrained resources, compressed timelines and impatient investors.

To help senior executives target the right regions for their business objectives, L.E.K. Consulting examines the benefits, drawbacks and pitfalls of the four most common international expansion strategy trade-offs:

  1. Market Size vs. Market Growth
  2. Market Growth vs. Market Risk
  3. Global Brand Consistency vs. Tailoring to Local Appeal
  4. Speed-to-Market and Cost Efficiency vs. Control

To illustrate these issues, we examined how some of the world’s leading companies have addressed each of these trade-offs. Companies featured in this report include Nike, Unilever, Nestlé, Wal-Mart, Christian Dior, IKEA and 3M.

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