On the Pigsback of global growth

8 Nov 2010

International growth is the ideal of every business with a web strategy. Here’s how Pigsback.com executed its expansion plan.

Pigsback.com is an online community that builds relationships between consumers and brands. It was established in Ireland in 2000 and was an innovator in developing an online platform that brings together consumers and brands for mutual reward.

Pigsback.com is free to use for members. Clients who use the service benefit from a wide range of digital marketing solutions including sampling, coupons, registration campaigns, branding and product trials. Current clients of Pigsback.com include some of the
worlds top brands such as Diageo, John West, AIB, Betfair, Glanbia, Dublin Airport Authority, L’Oréal and Nokia.

“The ambition to internationalise was there from the beginning and our initial investment was based on us developing the Pigsback.com brand in overseas markets,” explained founder Michael Dwyer.

“Our intention was to move to foreign markets quicker than we did. However, soon after we had raised the initial funding the dotcom crash took place and investment went quiet for a few years. In hindsight, this was not a bad thing as it allowed us to bring the Irish business to profitability. It also let us ensure that our product offering and business structure were strong enough for overseas expansion.

“Pigsback.com adopted two different strategies for its overseas expansion. In the UK, we went for a wholly owned subsidiary while in Canada a partnership/franchisee was the preferred route to market.”

International expansion costs money and Dwyer says you need to ensure that you have the finance in place to cover the extra overheads.

“To facilitate our launch into the UK marketplace we developed a ‘group structure’. This entailed putting key personnel into group-level positions for marketing, technology and communications. This needed to be in place as you cannot compromise your existing operation by diverting key resources to international expansion.

“In Canada, most of the challenges were taken out of our hands due to having a good local partner. In the UK, our main challenges were recruiting members and also selling a new service to companies to generate revenue. With regards to recruiting members we had a good marketing plan in place and this meant that we met all targets on time and within budget. Generating revenue from companies proved more challenging and once we had discovered the importance of the advertising agency in the buying process we amended our sales strategy accordingly,” Dwyer said.