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How to Reach International Success With the CAGE Distance Model

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October 12, 2021
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5 minutes
Gizela has almost two decades of experience within the Digital sphere and eagerly awaits the day she can be cloned so she can finally get everything on her daily to-do list done

Is your company ready to expand to new regions and countries? It seems exciting at first, the prospects of gaining the loyal following of a new market, but have you conducted the CAGE framework analysis?

Company strategists and sales managers look at international giants such as Total, Apple and Coke. They wish to imitate the longstanding success they’ve enjoyed. According to a Harvard Business School study, very few companies succeed in going global. It takes up to 10 years of foreign market sales and dedication to make at least 1% return on investment.

This article will provide an easy to understand explanation of the CAGE framework. We will look at the basics of the CAGE framework as a strategy when expanding goods and services into a foreign market.

Is it time to implement the CAGE framework to determine international viability?

What is the CAGE Framework?

The CAGE framework (also referred to as the CAGE distance framework) is a quantitative tool that is substantiated by gravity models. It to determine the distance between four critical pillars of business. It is an outstanding analytical tool for companies that develop intercontinental strategies. The strategies have an aim of the large-scale expansion of their businesses.

The CAGE framework includes 4 components:

  • Cultural differences
  • Administrative difference
  • Geographical difference
  • Economic difference

The CAGE analysis will determine what significant changes and challengers there are while taking a company (or brand) into an extraneous market.

CAGE Analysis

The world economy is under severe strain at the moment, and it is imperative to conduct as much research into expanding into foreign markets as possible. The CAGE analysis will reveal the most important differences between their home base and foreign markets when expansion strategies are on the table. The CAGE analysis will point out the biggest differences and considerations about cultural, administrative, geographical and economic factors that will influence costs and sales in the new country.

When you go global, each country you reach will come with a new set of rules. What works in your country may not work in another. This not only demands flexibility, but also an understanding of the culture you are entering. Those who are successful will embrace a new way of thinking, and adapt in order to survive.

CAGE Framework Example

Large international corporations have successfully ventured into foreign markets. But, they have to pay enormous price if they don't prepare or have knowledge about their new market.

The CAGE framework looks at the following areas:

Cultural differences

Cultural differences can have an impact on the goods or services your company and their uses in different cultures. A CAGE framework example of cultural difference is how the people of the new market will use and interpret the company’s offer. For example, Fanta soft drink is peach flavored in Botswana, and the same product is adapted to appeal to the taste and cultural differences of the Japanese market to be more floral. Each foreign market will have its preference for food, products, and brands. And these cultural differences will determine what has to be adapted, as part of the CAGE analysis, to provide a lucrative product or service.

Administrative differences

Administrative differences could be the difference in permits and protocols from country to country. Applying for a license to provide a service or to produce a product in the earmarked country might be very different to the process undertaken in the home country. A CAGE framework example of the administrative difference is commonly found in the licensing and permits associated with production, services or imports of goods. Each country will have their own set of rules and regulations to comply with. It will determine whether this will be viable and profitable for the success of the company.

Geographical differences

Geographical challenges such as access to public infrastructure in a new market (or country), physical landscape (for transportation) or time zone differences can be a great challenge. It is when investing in a foreign market strategy. The CAGE analysis should take into account if the product and service will be accessible by their proposed clientele. Is the country vast and remote, offering little engagement with the product/service? Or, are the towns and populated areas conducive to trade and will there be a need?

Economic difference

The economic difference between a first world country and a developing country is colossal. It could determine whether the service or product is viable in the new market.

Factors such as production, packaging and logistics are key considerations for economic CAGE analysis. Once the key strategy team has evaluated the cultural, administrative and geographical differences, they have to determine whether the new market will be economically viable. At times, this is the factor that does not allow companies to break through a new market due to an exorbitant increase in costs.

Example of Failing CAGE Framework Analysis

Companies look at foreign ventures as opportunities for high profits. They are the emerging markets through the accessibility of the internet and exploiting gaps in the current market. Many companies fail to comprehend the authenticities of international business in the quest for globalization.

Here is an example of how the lack of a thorough CAGE analysis brought producers of baby products to their knees in a new market.

The American baby product giant, Gerber, launched their line of baby food products in Africa. The baby food line provides African consumers with fast and nutritious baby food in developing areas. The baby food line would make sense in a country rife with poverty and malnutrition. However, the baby food was not successful at first. Once the team conducted a CAGE framework analysis, it came down to something very bizarre.

The Gerber team found that the African market was greatly illiterate and therefore couldn’t understand the descriptions of the labels. It thought that the food was made of babies. How strange! The consumers were reluctant to purchase food products with a picture of a baby. As, the local market would sell products with pictures of the ingredients of the product, such as vegetables, chicken and so forth. A major consideration of cultural difference was the downfall of thousands of dollars in marketing, shipments and warehousing. Moreover, this was only to find that the local markets were not excited to consume “baby” food.

The labelling and re-distribution could have been prevented in the case of Gerber’s expansion team doing a thorough CAGE framework analysis.

Need Help Crossing Boundaries?

The CAGE analysis is a useful and powerful framework to rationalize and take an analytical approach to the expansion of a company. The in-depth investigation into the feasibility can prove to be a massive task. But, with the help of Consultport Academy’s Internationalization Strategy Course, you will gain an understanding of the CAGE Framework. You will understand how it impacts your business as well as the tools for evaluation of the varying differences which will impact expansion.