Can a business be both international and hyperlocal?

Many founders and leaders will aspire to taking their business to foreign shores, and expanding on an international level as part of their scaling up process

Can a business be both international and hyperlocal

Certainly, at Feather Down Farms, this was always part of our strategy, and something we have learned (and continue to learn) from. As a Dutch founded business, true growth depended on us expanding across Europe and into the UK, which is what we have done in the last 15 years. In doing this we have picked up some important lessons which hopefully others can adopt as they ‘go global’.

Establish a very solid business locally, first

It might seem blatant, but having a very established, successful business in your native market is a must before expanding overseas. In short it proves that the business model works and secondly that there is a demand for your product. We spent 5 years building the Feather Down brand in The Netherlands before we even considered attempting to translate it into a foreign market. This put us in a really strong position as we entered our second market, into the UK.

Be prepared

Perhaps that sounds vague, or obvious, or both, but I cannot emphasise this point enough. No matter how much you might think you know about another country, there will always be surprises. RESEARCH. PREPARE. BE PREPARED TO ADAPT. Your formula might work brilliantly well in one country but need reworking for another. For example, we need to be very cognisant of the risk of open fire in France where arid summers are common – this might seem a small thing but it is an integral part of the customer experience, and thus required thought. And know that even with all of this, there will still be curveballs thrown your way. Language differences, cultural variations, will all mean a modification in your external communications. PR and Marketing will look very different from one territory to another. Simple things like charging booking fees is a very common thing in the Netherlands where we originated, but far less so in the UK – these were learnings we made along the way. With that in mind, I recommend hiring someone on the ground, their local knowledge will be invaluable.

Partner with the locals

The beauty of Feather Down, and what makes us so unique is that we become an engrained part of the local community by partnering with local farms. While not everyone will operate this kind of model, I feel strongly that aligning with local businesses is essential in the early stages of international expansion. They will provide insight you won’t otherwise have access to, but crucially they will provide you with an instant audience to talk to.


While you will have vast learnings from your native country, it is unlikely that the exact strategy you implemented there will translate to foreign markets. Rework your strategy to fit with each local market. This is where having an expert on the ground will be particularly useful. Leverage their expertise to understand what successful marketing tactics you can employ, what do local audiences expect from your type of brand / product, what should pricing look like etc. This is a vital starting point.

Steffen Beumer
Steffen Beumer

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