Mature markets are well-established and have been a success factor for the Swiss export economy for many years. “They enable Swiss companies to plan more reliably than is the case for emerging markets”, explains Andreas Staubli, CEO of PwC Switzerland. “On the one hand, the companies are already very familiar with the markets, while on the other they often have tried-and-tested local partners that they can rely on.” He’s speaking from experience. As an internationally operating company, PwC is also well aware of the importance of developed markets: “PwC is still seeing huge growth in the mature markets. In most cases it’s even greater than in the emerging markets.” One reason for this, Andreas Staubli believes, is their positive economic growth. In the USA, for example, the economy is on the right track, which increases demand for PwC’s services.
Today’s mature markets will remain important, while new markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam will join them.
Protectionism triggers insecurity
Mature markets are attractive not only from the perspective of economic growth, says Andreas Staubli, but also in that they provide a backbone in times of protectionism and potential trade conflicts. “Protectionist measures are dangerous”, says PwC Switzerland’s CEO with conviction, citing Brexit as an example: “The UK’s exit from the EU could weaken the economy, and that would be disadvantageous for Switzerland as well.” The fact that trade conflicts and protectionist measures trigger insecurities is highlighted in a current PwC survey of more than 1,300 CEOs worldwide. Only 42 percent of the CEOs questioned still believe there will be economic growth in 2019. By comparison, 57 percent were still optimistic when asked last year. Respondents in Switzerland were particularly pessimistic: Just 27 percent of Swiss CEOs expect to see growth. This subdued mood the world over can be traced back to excessive regulation, political insecurities and trade conflicts, according to the study. “It’s therefore all the more important that Switzerland cultivates good trading relationships with the most important markets and is able to gain access. One possibility is new free trade agreements. Here, I’m thinking about a deal with the USA, for example. Over the last few years, goods exports to the USA have significantly increased.”
Mature markets remain important trading partners for Switzerland
Andreas Staubli believes an agreement with the USA would be a growth driver for the future, and remains convinced that the USA and other industrial nations will be among Switzerland’s most important trading partners in future too. “Today’s mature markets will remain important, while new markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam will join them.”
Exporting to saturated markets where there is tough competition is quite an art, however. “In order for companies to be able to export to mature markets successfully, they need to understand them”, says Andreas Staubli, emphasizing the need for thorough preparation. He advises exporters to work with the right strategic partners, carefully plan their entry into the market, and to thoroughly examine the marketing characteristics of the relevant countries. “Digital communication brings new possibilities for mass communication with it, for example with the various social media channels. Since these are applied differently in the individual countries, however, exporters need to take a very close look at the different channels and take them into account in their sales strategies.” Relying merely on the latest developments and trends, says Staubli, a native of eastern Switzerland, is not enough to achieve success. “As before, it’s all about understanding the traditions, culture and the circumstances in place; thus it’s important to talk to experts who have already had experience in the target markets.”