Going global; nine in ten UK marketers leading international campaigns

New research by Rakuten Marketing reveals scarce resource for local marketing teams, making campaigns dependent on UK marketer expertise overseas

London, UK – 6 June, 2018 – A new study by Rakuten Marketing reveals 89% of UK marketers are now in a position where they are currently managing international campaigns. More than half (55%) are actively managing campaigns across Europe and a further 14% state they are also managing campaigns further afield.

While nearly a quarter of marketers are in the virtuous privileged position of having a centralised global marketing team, just 11% say they have local marketing teams in overseas markets able to carry the responsibility for rolling out international campaigns. The majority (61%) are reliant on UK teams to take charge of global campaigns.

Anthony Capano, Managing Director, EU and APAC at Rakuten Marketing, comments, “In Britain alone, more than 35% of transactions driven for Rakuten Marketing clients are now taking place overseas highlighting the huge international growth opportunity for UK brands However, with limited resource, marketing teams must start by focusing on one country and carrying out thorough research to inform campaigns.”

Finding direction

APAC is the most important emerging market for nearly one in ten marketers. 82% of UK marketers targeting this region confirm they see their customer base in the region as ‘premium buyers’. To reach customers, they are personally using new channels such as WeChat (36%). Similarly, 30% have tried Weibo and 18% have tried Renren.

Following APAC, marketers are also expanding their global customer base by targeting the Middle East (7%) and South America (4%). Like APAC, the market in the Middle East is considered by marketers to be comprised of premium buyers with an appetite for luxury goods. The biggest ecommerce potential in the region comes from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE with fashion, travel and transportation being the most popular online shopping categories. Of course, it is important to be conscious of the diverse cultures in this region and distinct sales peaks.

Limitless marketing

While display advertising remains the chief means of engaging audiences overseas (48%), marketers are fast realising the potential of social commerce (46%) given its success in eastern markets where social platforms such as WeChat double up as marketplaces.

This is closely followed by affiliate marketing which is considered a key marketing tactic by 44% of respondents. In particular, the affiliate channel is considered most important tactic in the Asia-Pacific by 52% of respondents and in the Middle East (48%) and Europe (45%).

From a technology perspective, voice has overtaken virtual reality as the focus for UK marketers with 44% stating Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomePod as key technologies to reach their target market overseas. In particular, marketers targeting Europe (45%) and APAC (42%) are keen to adopt voice into their campaigns.

Marketers targeting APAC should also be realising the popularity of QR codes in the market. At present, just 39% of UK marketers targeting this market are prioritising the technology despite 43% of customers in China using QR code for payment through AliPay and WeChat Pay.

Capano advises, “Experiment with the channels and technologies available. Gain insight into which are most widely used in that region and run small campaigns through them to see which resonate. Similarly, by identifying and partnering with key players in market, you will quickly receive feedback into performance and how your brand is being perceived.”


The research study commissioned by Rakuten Marketing was carried out in April 2018 by Morar Research. Survey respondents comprised 400 active UK marketers of various levels of seniority.

About Rakuten Marketing

Rakuten Marketing industry leading solutions empower marketers to thrive in their evolved role and achieve the full potential of digital marketing, efficiently and effectively, with data-informed insights that create consistent, engaging and influential experiences across screens. Offering an integrated solution, along with unique insights and consultative partnerships, Rakuten Marketing delivers the tools that marketers need to increase efficiency, productivity and performance.

Rakuten Marketing is a division of Rakuten Inc. (4755: TOKYO), one of the world’s leading Internet service companies. The company is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices in London, Brighton, Paris, Australia, Brazil, Japan, and throughout the United States. Follow us on Twitter or learn more at https://rakutenadvertising.com/en-uk/.