The secret of success of Swiss world market leaders

The “Swiss Champions” study investigates the basic patterns of success of Swiss SMEs and family businesses. For the third edition PwC Switzerland collaborated with Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) as its study partner.

Climbing up the highest mountains: Swiss Champions
Aiming high: Swiss Champions have it in their DNA - with a clear client focus, niche products, high capacities for innovation and a global approach.

The publication shows: Swiss Champions become world market leaders with an unconditional focus on customers. They prioritize people, not just when venturing abroad – it also people who determine the success of digitization.

The PwC study investigates the basic patterns of success of Swiss Champions: a robust core business, successful expansion into new geographical sales markets, crisis management, and the people behind the companies. Swiss Champions 2017 shows how Swiss companies become global champions and how they successfully go digital. The 151 companies surveyed stand out globally with a superior product. They consistently focus on the customer and recognise the value of people. Swiss Champions are taking a pragmatic approach to the industrial revolution. Their employees are engaging in the digital change.

Global success with the right product and a focus on people

There are three aspects that turn successful Swiss SMEs into global champions: having a top-class solution of products and services is the first key. Being where the customers are is the second secret to success. The third factor is being aware of the value of people: Swiss Champions offer their employees exciting further training opportunities. The staff appreciate the short decision-making processes with rapid response mechanisms.

Digital: yes, but pragmatic

The majority of Swiss Champions consider digitisation to be an opportunity for further company development. However, many are still in the early stages of their complete transformation. Norbert Kühnis, Leader Family Businesses and SMEs PwC Switzerland, explains:

The pragmatism of the Swiss Champions is as follows: Digitisation commences once it offers the customer added value and is therefore of strategic benefit to the company.

Marcel Widrig, Leader Private Clients PwC Switzerland continues: “The employees of the Champions are not afraid of the fourth industrial revolution and they sense that the management is pushing forward with digitisation.”

Complex general conditions
Swiss Champions are established worldwide. This global networking means that Swiss companies are confronted with protectionist measures in various countries, or currency risks, due to Brexit. Swiss Champions are geared to the long term. This allows them a certain amount of calm when dealing with the current global environment. Daniel Küng, CEO Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), has this to say:

The best crisis management strategy for Swiss exporters is to have a broad international network: those who export to many different countries balance out risks and tap into new growth markets.


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