Internationalization strategy

Broadening horizons

Globalization, change, competition.

At this point, no organization is exempt from these challenges. For many of them, the field of action is no longer a specific geographical area, but the entire globe. Today, everyone must broaden their horizons and extend their vision to identify new opportunities for growth and development.

Internationalization strategy

Thanks to its unique capability of viewing business from a broad-ranging, international perspective, The European House-Ambrosetti works alongside companies to guide them in recognizing—and changing—the rules of the game so that they can become more competitive.

Each internationalization project makes full use of the vital assets of a company with the goal of obtaining growing returns on invested capital and capturing profits outside the usual geographical borders.

Research and interaction

The initiatives are led by professionals from The European House-Ambrosetti in partnership with the client in full compliance with the latter’s mission, approach and strategic orientation. In fact, a company’s foreign market penetration strategy must be coherent with its overall strategy and cultural values.

The European House-Ambrosetti approach to foreign markets is always based on research and interaction with opinion leaders and key players in the country, market and sector to rapidly develop a sense of the essential themes and strategic questions in a given geographical area, market or country in order to significantly lower the costs of entry.

The services we offer can be grouped into two broad areas:

1) Supporting companies in penetrating a foreign market.
This service includes:

  • Intelligence and feasibility studies on a country level (including scheduling and management of business meetings);
  • Partner search and networking;
  • Organizing and management of top-level on-site study meetings;
  • Scouting, strategic audit and assistance for mergers and acquisitions;
  • Planning and assistance in creating international expansion strategies;
  • International marketing plans and sales improvement plans;
  • E-commerce on an international level;
  • Local management selection;
  • In-depth intelligence services: highly-detailed reports (including psychological) on partners, agents, salesmen, clients, suppliers, competitors and management of target companies for acquisition. This service is tailor-made to specific client requirements and requests.

2) Improving the competitiveness of a company so that it will be more effective and efficient on an international level.
This service includes: 

  • Designing international organizations and systems to improve performance (efficacy and efficiency);
  • Improving international organizational functioning through the use of the Net;
  • Improving management’s international competencies;
  • Improving skills in creating innovation from international presence;
  • Programs of familiarization with foreign cultures (cross cultural management).

Internationalization Strategies in Europe 

The consolidation process attained by the European Union has also had a major impact on industrial companies. The EU has become the domestic market for every member country, but certainly not all companies can say that they have an equal presence with the same level of penetration in all EU countries: in fact, language and cultural barriers continue to be an obstacle.

For Italian companies, transitioning from Italy to Europe means completely rethinking their strategy and organization at all levels, which can result in a complete reconfiguration of their business.
The European House-Ambrosetti, which can count on its offices in London and Madrid, as well as its home office in Milan, and the support of strategic partners in Helsinki, Moscow and Istanbul, is able to provide support to companies with a series of specific, targeted initiatives that include:

  • Conducting intelligence studies to discern emerging trends in European markets and sectors of interest, interacting primarily with opinion leaders and key players in the various European markets;
  • Identifying and selecting strategic objectives for acquisitions, performing, when necessary, strategic audits;
  • Assisting companies in post-acquisition management;
  • Assisting client firms in restructuring their businesses throughout Europe (reorganization of branch offices in other countries and reorganization of sales networks across Europe);
  • Assisting client firms in improving trans-cultural relations to create a sense of team across cultural boundaries (cross-cultural management).

Internationalization Strategies in China

China has become the no. 1 economy in the world and, together with the United States, has a hegemonic role on a geopolitical, economic and social level. Each corporate group, company or organization that decides to develop its own internationalization strategy must necessarily put this Asian country at the center of its plans. Specifically, anyone who intends approaching China must bear in mind a number of unique aspects, including:

  • A country system with a strong, visionary leadership capable of undertaking major lobbying activity on an international level;
  • An economic system increasingly competitive in the supply of raw materials;
  • A highly-competitive, dynamic domestic market undergoing a process of continuous change.

Therefore, an internationalization strategy in China must take into consideration a market that is in constant evolution and which only twenty years ago, in essence, did not exist. Despite this, it does have a number of distinguishing characteristics:

  • Extremely rapid life cycles and often quantum leaps in the nature of demand;
  • An industrial system in rapid expansion in all sectors (light, heavy industry, electronics) and in the process of repositioning towards sectors and processes with enhanced value added;
  • Constant push towards the relocation of manufacturing industry towards more internal areas of the country (or even other Asian countries) for processes with lower value added;
  • Mix of public/private (even though private business is undergoing rapid development, national and local governmental bodies still have significant opportunities to influence the actions of private companies);
  • A different way of handling power and how it is exercised (over the centuries, power in China has always been elusive, mysterious and hidden and this is still the case in both public institutions and large companies where understanding who truly has the final responsibility is not easy);
  • Mental and perceptive maps that are profoundly different and which have their origins in a language and culture which must be understood even before they are learned.

Approaching a complex country like China is not easy. To take advantage of the opportunities, it is necessary to understand the system and its main trends. This is a concept which holds for companies and organizations of various types, including:

  • Companies whose objective is to win a major share of a local market undergoing strong expansion and in search of increasingly sophisticated industrial and consumer goods;
  • Groups looking to optimize their global presence by taking maximum advantage of what China has to offer, both in terms of manpower which is becoming increasingly specialized and at competitive prices, and local intelligence;
  • Institutions whose intention is to support internationalization of the industrial system of their own home territory or attract direct foreign investment from Chinese groups.

The European House-Ambrosetti has had a presence in China since 1985 and it was the first Italian consulting firm to provide services to Chinese companies.
It has helped over one hundred Italian and European companies to enter this market and it is also present physically with a firm incorporated in China, Ambrosetti (Beijing) Consulting Ltd.

The professional services offered by The European House-Ambrosetti in China include:


  • Strategic market positioning;
  • Scenario analysis;
  • Formulation and evaluation of new strategic directions;
  • Verification of economic-financial investment feasibility and building of the profit-and-loss statement forecast;
  • System for strategic choices and operational planning;
  • Analysis and support in selecting the best place to locate;
  • Intelligence on the competition;
  • Assessment and evaluation of targets for joint venture and acquisition;
  • Assistance in external growth operations (M&A) and post-acquisition management;
  • Long-term advisory services to assist top management in running local operations and reacting in real time to context changes.

Attractiveness and territorial strategy

  • Assistance to local Chinese bodies and institutions in drawing up a strategy for their region;
  • Support in developing strategies for promoting the local area;
  • Support for national, regional and local investment agencies in scouting and help for investment requests from Chinese groups/companies with the goal of generating Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into a targeted area.

Marketing and communications and market development

  • Marketing and sales plans;
  • Planning and/or optimization of the sales network;
  • Targeted lobbying with Chinese institutions and entities;
  • Brand check and brand repositioning;
  • Consumer analysis and consumption trends;
  • Planning of focus groups operationally organized through support from external partners and analysis of results;
  • Mitografia® (symbolic analysis to comprehend product requirements and positioning).

Integrated logistics

  • Services for purchasing, production and physical distribution management;
  • Operational risk and security management;
  • Reconfiguring the operational structure and process optimization;
  • Planning and creation of integrated logistics systems;
  • Development of project management systems;
  • Creation of decision-making support systems.

Organization and Human Resources

  • Organization and processes;
  • Goal parameters for each position of responsibility;
  • Human Resource development and management systems;
  • Control systems (strategic, management, operational);
  • Trans-cultural relations;
  • High-level training for management (including expatriate).

Finance, control and value

  • Design and implementation of planning and control systems and related information flows;
  • Value Based Management;
  • Evaluation of the company/company branches;
  • Coordination of professional services (accountants, lawyers, tax consultants, etc.).

Internationalization Strategies in Japan 

Japan is the third largest power in the world. It is a country that evolved considerably over the 20th century but which, for Italian companies looking to do business there, still presents a number of difficulties.

Localization strategy

It is a large market characterized, in fact, by significant entry barriers due primarily to the complexity of its distributive system and the tendency of Japanese customers to deal exclusively with local economic players.

This is why companies interested in expanding into Japan must develop a localization strategy, in other words, try to work directly in the country itself. The choice of a valid partner that is reliable and strong represents the decisive factor for expansion. It is necessary to trust in effective operators who are able to understand in-depth this market that is becoming increasingly Westernized, in order to carry out business operations.

The European House-Ambrosetti has been active in Japan since 1995 with an office in Tokyo. The Senior Advisor and Director of the office is Susumu Koyama who received his professional experience in the Seibu Group (one of Japan’s leading groups active in mass market retailing and catering) both in Japan and Europe and, as a result, also has a profound knowledge of both economies.

The European House-Ambrosetti services in Japan include:

  • Research into strategic partners including preliminary strategic audits;
  • Conducting intelligence studies to discern emerging trends in the Japanese market and sector of interest, interacting primarily with opinion leaders and key market players;
  • Assisting firms in organizing their Japanese facilities;
  • Assisting firms in drawing up and implementing their own commercial networks;
  • Assisting firms in improving trans-cultural relations to create a sense of team across cultural boundaries (cross-cultural management).

Internationalization Strategies in the USA 

The United States market, together with that in China, is the largest and wealthiest in the world. But the United States has entrenched traditions based on a managerial culture with characteristics unique anywhere in the world.

Italy-US: A complex interplay

It is a context characterized by the highly professional approach of all economic players, by a high level of competitiveness, pragmatism and constant strategic and operative interest in one’s own company, by an on-going desire to simplify, by an organizational culture based on delegating responsibility and respect for this process, by orientation towards immediate results and by the high level of efficiency of the system. All these characteristics render interaction with the US market very complicated for Italian companies of whatever size.

Attention to detail

Success in the US market requires, first of all, minute care in drawing up a clear and highly pragmatic strategy. A farsighted and creative strategy must go hand-in-hand with tremendous attention to detail. A comprehensive presence in a market such as this also requires the strategic and organizational ability to differentiate one’s way of operating on the basis of the culture and behavior patterns of the various areas of the country.

Secondly, tremendous attention must be paid to the project and organizational functioning. The project must take into account the habits and customs of the US market, and any thought of going against them or changing them is out of the question. In addition, attention must also be paid to make sure the organization functions as planned. For example, the top positions of American organizations of Italian-owned companies, must be filled by managers who are truly capable of mediating between the two cultures.

The European House – Ambrosetti has been active in the United States since 1985 and specializes in:

  • Conducting intelligence studies to discern emerging trends in the US market and sector of interest, interacting primarily with opinion leaders and key market players; Major attention is given to comprehending the differences between the various geographic areas of the country;
  • Identifying and selecting strategic objectives for acquisitions, with the help of strategic audits;
  • Partner searches, both for investment and business agreements;
  • Assisting firms in post-acquisition management, in organizing their US offices and improving trans-cultural relations to create a sense of team across cultural boundaries (cross-cultural management).

  • Assistance to a major Japanese group for scouting for investment and partners in Europe in the clothing, luxury and furnishings sector;
  • Drawing up of an entry strategy and identification of manufacturing sites in China for a top Italian company in the lighting design sector;
  • Definition of the launch strategy in Europe and marketing plan of a new product for a major Chinese group in the consumer electronics sector
  • Assistance to a major Chinese group in the preparation and development of a branding and retail strategy in China;
  • Market and country study in Japan for numerous leading Italian fashion companies;
  • Entry and acquisitions strategy in Italy for a British pharmaceutical company, world leader in OTC;
  • Entry strategy into Japan for a French software and telecommunications company;
  • Entry strategy into China for a leading Italian box manufacturer;
  • Expansion strategy in the US and Germany for leading Italian woodworking companies;
  • Expansion strategy in the US for a leading Italian wine sector company;
  • Reorientation of the distribution strategy in the US for a leading Italian furnishings company;
  • Expansion strategy in China for leading Italian fashion sector companies;
  • Repositioning strategy in Italy for a leading British leather diary manufacturer;
  • Marketing and financing strategy and implementation of an environmental management system in China for a Chinese marble manufacturer (project financed by the World Bank);
  • Strategic audit of a potential acquisition target in Italy for a US food sector multinational;
  • Identification of partners for industrial cooperation in the woodwoorking, textile and agro-industry sectors;
  • Internationalization strategy for municipal utilities in the water and solid urban waste sectors;
  • Entry strategy into the Chinese market of a leader in the up-scale clothing sector;
  • Study and analysis for the footwear market in China and related entry strategies;
  • Strategies and opportunities for Italian companies deriving from the organization of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008;
  • Entry strategy into China for a leading Italian lighting fixture manufacturer;
  • Market analysis in the software sector for telecommunications in China for a leading Italian company in this sector;
  • Market and country study in Portugal for one of the world leaders in the food sector;
  • Market and country study in Indonesia for a national association in the international frame sector;
  • Global expansion strategy for a leading Portuguese textile company.