While many quick serve restaurants (QSRs) and casual dining restaurants (CDRs) have the appetite for international expansion, they often wind up with indigestion after investing significant resources in other countries. As a result, these brands now treat their international division as ancillary business, rather than a sizeable source of growth.

With more than one billion middle class consumers globally, the opportunities for expansion are too big to ignore — especially since most countries remain under penetrated.

In this Executive Insights, L.E.K.’s Wiley BellJon Weber and John Moran argue that when brands suffer overseas, they typically run into a number of critical problems — getting any one of these wrong can derail international growth:

  • Inadequate commitment masked by denial
  • A lack of focus
  • Failing to question conventional wisdom

There is no one-size-fits all blueprint for international expansion. Every company and every country is different, requiring a tailored approach for each market. Nevertheless, substantial prizes await for those restaurant brands with the commitment to “go big” abroad and make structured investments backed by detailed analysis. Find the right markets, craft your own recipe for success and don’t give up too quickly.

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