Every new country is a blank canvas

How do you build a brand in 50 countries – without the support of a local sales organization? The Global Market Development Consumer team at Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions (FHCS) explains how it works.

For employees of the Global Market Development Consumer (GMDC) team, no two days are the same: they analyze new markets, countries and distribution channels, clarify customs issues and launch media campaigns. In addition, their to-do list includes daily calls all over the world and, time and again, personal in-home visits and worldwide store checks. In short, everything that is needed for the international development of a brand. Managed by a multicultural team of about 35, with workplaces in Weinheim, Chile, Croatia and South Africa, among others.


We do more than just send goods back and forth in containers

Robert Bedene, Senior Director Distributor Management 

"We do more than just send goods back and forth in containers," Robert Bedene, Senior Director Distributor Management, makes clear. For him and his colleagues, it is instead about building up the market and brand of Vileda in currently about 50 countries around the world, including, for example, Romania, Jordan, Morocco or Argentina. A very complex task that encompasses everything from sales and supply chain to marketing. Thus, FHCS is also present in countries that either represent only a small market or are too risky to have their own sales location due to their current security situation. If a modern retail landscape exists and a consumer class with purchasing power can be found, the team takes a closer look at the respective country. And in the best case, decides to open it up as a new market. "A long-term goal for us is to develop the large markets to the point where we can eventually establish our own sales organisation there," Robert continues.

50 countries in view: There is no routine for GMDC employees / Image: FHCS

Distributors take over sales, and GMDC brand management

To this end, GMDC is transferring the import and sales of Vileda products in all its countries to distribution partners. These partners already have well-established business relationships with the most important retail channels, including – depending on the country –- hypermarkets and supermarkets as well as DIY and drug stores, discounters, cash & carry markets and online platforms. The partners then take over tasks such as order processing, category management and on-site promotions. Finding suitable partners is not easy, however, as Thomas Haneke, Director Business Development, testifies: "Every new country is like a blank canvas for us. First of all, we look for distributors and hold numerous talks. Once we have found a suitable partner and convinced him of our merits, we can in most cases benefit from his well-developed network." The most important thing here is a lot of tact, as Thomas continues. "We have to deal differently with distributors in the Middle East than with partners in Africa or South America." The cleaning habits in the individual countries and the needs of the end customers are also different. But for Katrin Paare, that is precisely the attraction of her work. "For us, that means always adjusting and adapting to a country anew”, says the GMDC Marketing Director. It's an exciting challenge, because we are always building business from nothing. With us, everyone can still make a personal difference and develop further in terms of their tasks and within our organization."



For us, that means always adjusting and adapting to a country anew. It's an exciting challenge, because we are always building business from nothing.

Katrin Paare, GMDC Marketing Director

Even if communication with the sales partners across all time zones is sometimes difficult – thanks to its experience and the commitment of the employees, the team has so far mastered its complex task with success: Vileda is now the market leader in the majority of the relevant countries.

Source photo: Adobe Stock