During a recent meeting of the LTIBC export network, Johanne Boivin, CEO of and designer at Joanel, explained her internationalization approach to the other network members.
Joanel Inc. is the largest handbag and fashion accessory company in Québec and is considered as a leader in the Canadian handbag industry. The company markets its products under four registered trademarks: Ugo Santini, Joanel, Mouflon and Edgar & Sooky.
Boivin explained the Mercadex Internationalization Method (MIM), which she undertook as a result of a project organized in 2008 by the LAVAL TECHNOPOLE International Business Centre together with Mercadex International. As a result of the MIM, Boivin put together an international business plan while her employees learned the ins and outs of internationalization, including best practices, and acquire tools. Boivin had set her sights on non-traditional markets for her products and wanted to make sure all the odds were stacked in her favour. The MIM made sure she picked the right markets for her products rather than chase business opportunities without a clear direction.
At the end of the process, Joanel decided on the Scandinavian markets because their consumer needs were similar to ours, i.e. they look for practical handbags with good value for the money. Another reason was the competition on the European markets, particularly in Italy and France. Joanel’s strategy for Europe is to begin on smaller markets before venturing into bigger ones.
According to Boivin, to really understand a new market, you need to see it with your own eyes. During an exploratory trip to Sweden, she realized that her marketing strategy was not optimal in order for her to succeed on international markets. She also realized that a potential distributor whom she was in discussions with did not share her business philosophy. Instead of hurrying a launch on the Swedish market, the company stepped back and spent last year reworking its image by changing the logos, overhauling its Web sites to make it transactional, and introducing her brands into the social media. It now feels better prepared and ready to resume its approach of the Swedish and international markets.
As you can see, Joanel did its homework in order to better pave the way for a successful foray abroad. If you’d like to find out more about the MIM, please contact me as we are considering offering this training and coaching workshop again this fall.
To learn more about Joanel’s diversification strategy, read the article in the April issue of Écho de Laval (French only).