Do not overlook Europe’s fastest-growing markets!
For Scottish firms, the opportunities in Poland (and the wider CEE region which shares many of Poland’s characteristics) are many. The construction sector is booming, as EU structural and cohesion funds pour into infrastructure projects. Consumers’ disposable income is rising rapidly – unemployment is at a record low and wages are growing faster than inflation. Luxury goods are finding new buyers with new confidence and an interest in new brands.
Last year, sales of UK branded food products in Poland were up by 42% over the previous year, making it the world’s seventh (!) largest market. British branded food is selling well in Poland because many Poles – having had a taste of it in the UK – are looking for those branded products on their return home. Lamb, cheese, biscuits and of course Scotch whisky are among the categories showing fastest sales growth. Interestingly, single malts are doing remarkably well.
If you are a Scottish exporter and are already doing good business in western European markets, it is worth taking that step further east. Being in Schengen, there are no extra border controls to deal with. The only action needed is to find a suitable agent or distributor, having considered a suitable market entry strategy.
The British Polish Chamber of Commerce can help. It has a dedicated trade team, focused on getting UK exports into Poland. BPCC Trade works with British SMEs to show them potential of the Polish market, assess their chances of success – and then assuming there’s a green light – working together to find that partner who will sell the British products to the Polish consumer. With a strong track record across sectors such as food, cosmetics, clothing, FMCG and investment goods.
Poland, the largest of the ten markets in the CEE region to join the EU since 2004, is an excellent hub for further expansion. With a total of over 102 million consumers and growth rates faster than the established markets of Western Europe, the CEE region should not be ignored by Scottish firms looking to grow rapidly in new markets.
To be a success in these markets, you will have to have some budget for marketing. Often Scottish products are competitive in terms of price and quality, but compared to brands from, say, France or Italy, they are entirely unknown. Whether the marketing is done traditionally or via social media, it cannot be avoided if you are to build brand awareness from scratch. But first, some basic market research is needed, to see whether there is a place in the market for your product or service. A competitive pound helps; since the Brexit referendum, the pound is around 17% cheaper against the zloty, making UK products and services more attractive to Polish consumers.