1. Losing Market Share
- Hello, everyone, and thanks for joining us for this conference call, wherever you might happen to be in the world! If you don’t know, my name’s Dimitri, and I lead the marketing department. I’m not sure that you’re aware, but our European business has not been doing well in the last year or so. In particular, we’ve been losing market share to our rivals. A Korean company, Neidon, entered the European market three years ago, and have adopted an aggressive pricing strategy, which is putting pressure on our revenues. Additionally, a German start-up, called Hammer, have expanded their market share in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, partially at our expense. It’s clear that we need to respond to these market forces, and I’d like to start thinking about our options during this meeting.
In this presentation to describe business strategy in English, you heard some phrases based on the word ‘market’. Let’s look at a few of them.
- We’ve been losing market share to our rivals.
- A German start-up have expanded their market share.
- It’s clear that we need to respond to these market forces.
Imagine that you want to explain the meaning of these phrases in English. What would you say?
If you’re losing market share, then your business has a smaller proportion of the available customers. The phrase in sentence two has the opposite meaning; if you expand your market share, you reach a higher proportion of potential customers.
You can also gain market share, which has the same meaning.
‘Market forces’ – you can also say ‘market pressures’ – describes the conditions in a market, and how they affect company behaviour and strategy.
For example, a market in a particular field, or a particular area, might get more or less competitive with time. Consumers there might get richer or poorer. These are examples of market forces which businesses need to adapt to.
Generally, you can improve your English to talk about these topics by paying attention to *collocations*. A collocation is when you use words in a specific combination.
‘Expand your market share’ is a collocation. You might know all these words individually, but could you use them together? With collocations, you need to learn the combination of words as a single block, so that you can use them together without thinking.
We recommend going back to the presentation text and trying to find more useful collocations. Do the same with the other presentation texts which you’ll see in the rest of this lesson!
Do you want more practice with presentation language? Watch this Oxford Online English lesson: Giving Presentations in English.
2. Entering a New Market
You’re about to hear the presentation for part two. Don’t forget to listen out for collocations. In the presentation, there are three new collocations with the word ‘market’. Try to find them as you listen!
- I’d like to discuss an idea which has been floating around lately, and explain why I don’t think it’s a solution to our problems. I’m talking about China; I’ve heard from many of you that we should try to enter the Chinese market, but I don’t think this is a good strategic move for us right now. First of all, the regulatory barriers to entry are high. Secondly, there’s already fierce competition, from both local and international companies. Finally, the cost of getting established in a new market can be large, and while we’re financially solid, we don’t have so much free cash flow, so we’d have to take on debt. Instead, I think we should focus on our North American presence, where we’re already in a strong market position and the competition is less intense.
Did you hear the collocations with the word ‘market’? Here they are.
- We should try to enter the Chinese market.
- The cost of getting established in a new market is high.
- We’re already in a strong market position.
What does ‘getting established’ mean?
‘Established’ means something like ‘stable’ or ‘comfortable’. If you get established in a new market, you reach a position where your business is comfortable, and you’re not fighting for survival.
There were also several other useful phrases in the presentation. Let’s look at a few.
- I don’t think this is a good strategic ________ for us right now.
- The regulatory ________ to entry are high.
- There’s already ________ competition.
Can you remember the missing words? Remember that you can go back and listen to the presentation again if you want!
Here are the answers.
- I don’t think this is a good strategic move for us right now.
- The regulatory barriers to entry are high.
- There’s already fierce competition.
‘Move’ here means something like ‘decision’ or ‘plan’. It’s a noun.
If something is a good decision, you can describe it as a ‘good move’ or a ‘smart move’.
If you want to enter a new market, there will usually be some barriers to entry. These could be regulatory – laws and rules which it is difficult or expensive to follow. They could be cultural – maybe there isn’t much demand for your product in some countries or cultures. They could be financial – maybe you need to invest heavily to start a new operation. If the barriers to entry are high, then it’s especially difficult to get established in a new market.
There are many words which you can combine with the word ‘competition’. In the presentation, you also heard ‘intense competition’.
Here’s a task: go to a good online dictionary – we recommend Longman or Lexico – and find three more adjectives which can collocate with the word ‘competition’. If your English is intermediate level or higher, focusing on collocations is often a better way to improve your vocabulary, rather than spending all your time learning individual words.
Next, lets talk about describing business strategy with launching new products.
3. Launching New Products
Again, when you listen to the presentation, try to find new collocations with the word ‘market’. There are three to find.
- Another way that we might compensate for the decline in our European business is by bringing new product lines to market, both in Europe and elsewhere. This could help us to expand our customer base and claw back some of the market share we’ve lost in recent years. Additionally, to cut down on travel expenses, we’ve been retraining our sales teams so that they can work remotely. We started work on this very early, which we hope will give us a competitive edge over other firms that still rely on face-to-face sales. Overall, our strategic vision for the next five to ten years is to take a more global, less Europe-centric approach. That doesn’t mean we’ll be neglecting our European business, but we’ll be focusing more on emerging markets, and trying to build a dominant position there.
Here are the three new collocations with ‘market’.
- We can compensate for the decline in our European business by bringing new product lines to market.
- This could help us to claw back some of the market share.
- We’ll be focusing more on emerging markets.
‘Claw back’ is an interesting verb. Do you know what it means, or can you guess?
‘Claw back’ means to fight to get back something which you lost.
Now, to practise the other language you heard, look at some questions.
- Can you name three ways that a company can expand its customer base?
- How can one company have a competitive edge over another?
- Which companies have a dominant position in your local market?
Pause the video, and try to make answers to these three questions. Make sure your answers are full sentences, and make them as detailed as possible. Write them down, or say them out loud, or do both!
Ready? Could you do it?
Of course, there’s more than one way to answer, but let’s look at some sample answers.
For question 1, you could say: ‘A company can expand its customer base by launching new products, entering new regional markets, or attracting new customers through advertising.’
For question 2, you could say: ‘A company can gain a competitive edge by having a superior product, having lower prices, or by offering better customer service and support.’
For question 3, you could say: ‘In my country, there’s a restaurant chain called Goody’s that have a dominant position in the fast food market. It’s one of the few countries where MacDonald’s haven’t been able to gain much market share.’
If you found it difficult to answer the three questions yourself, use our answers as templates. Use the sentence structures we used, and change the details to use your own ideas.
Also, just practising your answer once might not be enough! Say your answer out loud several times, until you can do it fluently.
Let’s move on to our last section to describe business strategies in English.
4. Staying at the Top
As before, try to find new collocations with the word ‘market’ in the presentation. This time, there are three to find.
- So far, we’ve focused more on challenges which we’re currently facing, but there’s plenty of good news, too. In Latin America, we are in a dominant position, with two of our largest competitors announcing recently that they’re planning to get out of the market, which is great news for us and should allow us to consolidate our position further. However, we don’t want to get complacent. We have a first mover advantage in most of Latin America, but other companies will notice our success and try to move in. One thing I’d like our product teams to start thinking about is how to keep our pricing competitive and make it difficult for any new market entrants. We should also be looking at long term trends in South America, and make strategic decisions that reflect the changing market conditions across the continent.
Did you find the new collocations? Here they are.
- They’re planning to get out of the market.
- We should be looking at long term trends that reflect the changing market conditions across the continent.
- We need to make it difficult for any new market entrants.
In part two, you heard a collocation which means the opposite of ‘get out of the market’. Do you remember it?
The opposite is ‘enter the market’, as in ‘enter the Chinese market’, ‘enter the Brazilian market’, and so on.
Let’s look at some more useful phrases you heard. Can you remember the missing words here?
- That should allow us to ________ our position further.
- We have a ________ mover advantage in most of Latin America.
- Other companies will notice our success and try to ________ in.
Can you remember? Pause the video if you need more time to think.
Ready? Here are the answers.
- That should allow us to consolidate our position further.
- We have a first mover advantage in most of Latin America.
- Other companies will notice our success and try to move in.
If you consolidate something, you make it stronger and more stable.
‘First mover advantage’ means the benefits you get from being first to enter a new market, or launch a new product. For some time, you have no competition, because you were faster than your rivals.
‘Move in’ here has the direct meaning of entering a new market, but it has a secondary meaning, too: it has the idea of trying to take market share and customers.
That’s all for this lesson, but there’s a lot of information and vocabulary here. We recommend that you go through the presentations again and find new words and phrases to learn.
Thanks for watching! We hope you learned many helpful phrases and collocations to describe business strategy in English.