How to Grow Your Business in Southeast Asia


Southeast Asia is swiftly emerging as a popular destination for many global businesses, and with good reason. With a high-growing economy, a highly-engaged consumer base, and a digitally-minded population, expanding a business into Southeast Asia should be part of every investor’s priority list. This post will shed light on some of the best ways you can grow your business in the region. It will outline how you can design a long-term growth strategy for your business, and some of the main challenges you may encounter on your journey to expansion.

Benefits of Growing Your Business in Southeast Asia

Here are some of the benefits you may enjoy if you grow your business in Southeast Asia:

1. Digitally-oriented consumer base

The massive digital-savvy native population of Southeast Asia offers an opportunity for digital and e-commerce services, including Software as a Service (SaaS). With a total population of 440 million internet users, internet penetration across the region has reached 75%. Furthermore, the internet economy of Southeast Asia is predicted to attain $360 million by 2025, according to an annual e-Conomy SEA report released by Google.

2. Rapidly growing tech talent

Growing your business in an international market can be almost impossible without excellent talent on the ground. Singapore is the best region for higher education, while Vietnam and the Philippines follow it closely in terms of ranking. Based on a report released by World Economic Forum in 2021, many young people are very interested in lifelong learning and upskilling.

3. Strong economic growth

Boasting a population of more than 650 million people as well as a growing middle class, the region has grown to become a lucrative destination for ambitious foreign investors. More so, Southeast Asia is one of the fastest-rising economic regions. In 2021, the Asian Development Bank estimated a +3.1% growth rate and predicted a +5.0% growth rate in 2022. Vietnam and Malaysia were the countries with the fastest-rising markets in Southeast Asia.

How to Grow Your Business in Southeast Asia

Follow this step-by-step guide to find out how you can grow your business in Southeast Asia.

a) Design a growth strategy for your business

Every successful venture begins with a well-outlined strategy; therefore, ensure that you invest adequate time in planning out your growth strategy rather than going into a new territory unprepared. A solid growth strategy will save your business time and resources.

Here, set clear objectives, conduct thorough market research, decide which global growth strategy you’d like to employ, establish your budget, and develop a timeframe to grow the business.

b) Employ local talent

To grow your business internationally, you need to hire local talent. Employing local talent gives you access to the cultural, regulatory, and linguistic expertise you require to thrive in a new market. This is important because the language, culture, and regulations differ greatly from those of other nations.

c) Adapt your products and services for the new market

Before you launch your products or services to your Southeast Asia market, you need to make several tweaks. Here are some of the factors you may want to consider:

  • Translation and transcription. Does your target market possess high fluency levels in the current language of your product or service? If not, then you need to consider employing translation services and transcription services – such as Filipino translation services– to translate and transcribe your product’s copy and launch a translated version of your business website.
  • Price adjustment. Another crucial step you need to take is to convert your prices. Here, you should also adjust the whole pricing structure to match local expectations.
  • Compliance. Ensure that you assess whether your products are in line with local regulations, laws, and trade standards. For instance, you may have to change your product’s labeling.

d) Launch your product and test it in the new Southeast Asia market

Once you’ve completed the steps above, it’s time to get your sales team and marketing campaigns ready. Keep in mind that this is only the beginning. You’ll have to monitor how the new market is behaving continuously. Also, ensure that you obtain customer feedback, comply with local regulations, and most importantly, don’t be static – adjust accordingly. 

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