How to Explore Overseas Market: Learn from Illy and Estee Lauder

SMB CEOs… want some inspirations on how to explore overseas market? Check out this Singapore Sessions video, featuring a candid talk with Estee Lauder Companies’ Executive Chairman, William P. Lauder, and Illy’s CEO, Andrea Illy.

This session features on how Illy Coffee and Estee Lauder approach the challenges presented by the South East Asian market.

South East Asia is a market promising significant growth, but is surely challenging, especially for coffee and cosmetic products. Fortunately, there is not a single way to market to Asia, which mean that the market favors companies with innovative business model and sound strategy.

From the video we can learn that Mr. Illy and Mr. Lauder adopt a different business model in bridging the gaps in the market.

In the effort to enter the South East Asian market, Illy focuses on word-of-mouth marketing. They achieve their goals by replicating the experience enjoyed by the customers worldwide, capitalizing on a premise that the consumer want a different experience in enjoying coffee products. Focusing on this unique experience, Illy’s line of products is pretty much standardized worldwide.

Estee Lauder, on the other hand, adopt a different business model. Instead of focusing on offering unique products to Asia, the company chooses to develop cosmetics products which are customized to the needs of Asian consumers.

Although Illy and Estee Lauder adopt different business models, both shares a common goal: To be the best in the world’s market.

Illy cafe

Lessons learned from the video:

1. Word of mouth still works – even for a global brand

Illy relies on word of mouth marketing to spread the words about Illy coffee products. Coffee shops and retailers are not only selling coffee; they are also selling experience. If we sell experience, word of mouth is a match made in heaven.

2. At least in cosmetics industry, customized products works

Cosmetics and other beauty products are exposed to consumers on a personal level. People want what they feel right for them – so it’s only logical to give exactly what they want: Something which is just right for them.

3. Don’t limit your business growth

Whether you realize it or not, you often limit your business’ growth. While go local is a good movement, you need to find ways to go global. Illy and Estee Lauder’s endeavor is to be the best in the industry, and whether you like it or not, your vision drives everything in your business, from top to bottom.

Estee Lauder


Going global requires you to understand your target market inside out. You need to understand the culture, laws and regulations, and so on.

As you might have realized, opening another location for your business is always challenging; now take that to the International level and the challenge would be enormous. However, with every challenge lies huge opportunity waiting to be discovered. Do you due diligence and take action swiftly – or else, your competitors might enter your target market before you finally do.

Photo credit: The JH Photography, Rachel_2007


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