Adapting a brand for different markets
Stagecoach Performing Arts is a UK-based franchise brand operating in multiple international markets. To maintain their success at an international level, the performing arts franchise has had to adjust to suit consumers’ needs across varying marketplaces and cultures.
With a phenomenal rate of growth across international territories including Malta, Germany, Canada, Australia and China, Stagecoach is demonstrating that adapting a quality business model for international markets is entirely achievable.
The first step
When venturing overseas, considering cultural nuances and what is influential in a new market is vital. The brand has to question what motivates their consumers and prospective franchisees in this new country and respond to those motivations, all without diluting what makes the brand and the franchise model great in the first place. With schools across Hessen, Cologne, Frankfurt and many more, Germany is a great example of where Stagecoach has had to keep up with increasing demand in a market with marked differences to the UK.
First and foremost, a key consideration for the children’s services franchise are the reasons behind why parents send their children to performing arts schools or workshops in Germany differs from in the UK. Therefore, it’s crucial that Stagecoach adapts its messaging to incorporate these differences.
With extracurricular activities for children in the UK, an emphasis is often placed on them serving a purpose in terms of enriching educational experience. In Germany, parents don’t place as much pressure on extracurricular activities as a tool to boost future educational prospects for their children – they are more focused on children socialising, having fun and making friends. Parents want their children to take part in once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, which is what the Stagecoach franchise, across all of its international markets, aims to provide.
In the UK, the Stagecoach tagline is ‘Creative Courage for Life’, whilst the tagline for the German brand has been altered to ‘Play on the Stage of Life’ – ‘Auf der Bühne des Lebens Spielen’. This is a direct result of what students and parents in Germany want from the Stagecoach experience as opposed to what students and parents in the UK want. Shifting the focus of this message has been essential for the performing arts franchise to be successful in Germany.
Interestingly, the tagline has not changed in any of the brand’s other territories. However, this doesn’t mean that adaptations were not required. Direct translations often catch brands out. When KFC first tried taking on China, their slogan ‘Finger lickin’ good’ directly translated as ‘Eat your fingers off’ - probably not the image they were going for. So, language translations are another key element to consider when expanding a franchise network on an international level and important to acknowledge from the outset. Luckily for Stagecoach, their central support team include those with multi-lingual skills whilst partnerships with colleagues in-country ensures language is not a barrier to development.
From strength to strength
Andy Knights, Chief Operating Officer for Stagecoach, believes that the business model will go from strength to strength as we head into a new year, in part due to their success in adapting the brand to new markets.
“Seeing Stagecoach rapidly growing across an international market is fantastic, approaching each new country in a methodical manner. It’s testament to the already successful formula that, by making minor changes where appropriate in perhaps language, marketing campaigns or choice of teaching material, we can successfully adapt to new markets and cultures,” said Andy.
“Spending essential preparation time, researching and gaining local knowledge is worth the effort in the long run. Sometimes we have people contacting us, requesting we bring the franchise to their country and that really is an exciting time.”
Think global, act local
Stagecoach know that consumers in all of their markets value performing arts, enjoy theatre and recognise it as worthwhile activity for their children, so one thing they never change is their original winning Stagecoach service. Ultimately, whether in the UK or any of its other international territories, Stagecoach is still doing what it does best.
“Stagecoach is more than a leisure activity for children. Sessions teach confidence, social skills and give a whole generation of performance lovers the chance to meet and have fun,” said the team behind Stagecoach Performing Arts in Berlin.
A helpful phrase to remember when taking a franchise international is ‘Think global, act local’. The idea of giving local relevancy to a global brand can help you maximise your impact in each new target market. Andy added for any franchisors considering expanding internationally, “Trust, awareness and reliability are excellent starting points.”
With significant growth across eight countries despite a pandemic in 2020, newly acquired rights to operate one of Australia’s oldest theatres and a national award win in Canada last year, Stagecoach is a prime example of how to achieve success when expanding a franchise internationally.
For more information, visit www.stagecoachfranchise.com