Foreign markets are familiar territory for many mid-sized companies based in the Americas. Today, mid-market business leaders are pursuing global expansion with energy and discipline. The stakes are high but the signs are positive: substantial rewards are within reach.
The third edition of KPMG's survey exploring global expansion charts the recent progress, current state, and future outlook of international business activities among mid-sized companies. It examines the factors affecting decisions about how and where to expand abroad. Lastly, it exposes some unique opportunities and particular challenges facing mid-market management teams beyond domestic borders.
For the first time, our survey compares four leading markets in the Americas region: the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, and finds they're quintessential to one another's global aspirations. Collectively, these countries account for about one-fifth of global GDP (PPP).1 In addition to sizeable markets, they offer one another – to varying degrees – the advantages of geographic proximity, language and cultural similarities, and a common regional trading bloc.
Our findings reflect the experience and outlook of 1,150 mid-sized companies that have sold a product or service in a foreign market within the previous year. Highlights include:
Today, the majority of mid-sized companies we surveyed are employing multiple strategies to build global presence, with the use of foreign vendors and distributors most common among them (84 percent).
On average, our respondents derive 35 percent of company revenue from abroad and deploy 25 percent of their workforce in other countries, with the USA and Canada above the average, and Brazil and Mexico below.
Overall, mid-sized companies that are active abroad are already well on their way to building worldscale businesses: 59 percent of our respondents increased revenue from customers and/or operations abroad in the previous two years. Nearly half of our respondents are currently conducting business in 2–5 other countries, with 41 percent citing untapped market opportunities as the top selection criterion in a wide-ranging list for vetting expansion opportunities.
Conducting in-depth due diligence is both a critical success factor and significant challenge for expansion-oriented management teams (selected by 44 percent and 52 percent respectively).
Today, many mid-sized companies are exploring options close to home: unsurprisingly, the USA is the most frequently considered market for expansion among respondents from Canada, Brazil, and Mexico (selected by 51 percent).
Global expansion is now integral to most mid-sized companies' growth strategy; a fact affirmed by 64 percent of our survey respondents. On average, mid-market business leaders who plan to increase global presence expect to grow revenue from foreign markets by 34 percent and increase their workforce in other countries by 33 percent over the next five years.
How many mid-market business leaders view global expansion as integral to their company's growth strategy?
Leadership focus is strongly correlated to success in achieving global expansion objectives: mid-sized companies with focused leadership have four times the success rate as others we surveyed.
If past performance indeed predicts future results, our survey shows there's good reason for mid-market business leaders to be optimistic about their global growth potential. In recent years, many mid-sized companies have cultivated a global mind-set and the necessary capabilities to drive top-line growth and get closer to a broader customer base by tapping into new markets abroad. In return, they've begun to reap sizeable rewards.
For more information, download the full report below.
Global Rewards Within Reach - Survey of Mid-Sized, Multinational Companies in the Americas (PDF 3.4 MB)