Case study: Data-driven decision-making in building a market expansion strategy

In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, expanding into new markets is considered a strategic decision imperative for growth-oriented organizations. By leveraging extensive yet tailored research techniques, founders can gain valuable insights to inform their market expansion strategies, minimize uncertainties and maximize their chances of success. 

This case study explores a real-life example, highlighting the power of data-driven decision-making in building a market expansion strategy.

Asset Direct is a financial services company that provides access to credit and financial products, connecting consumers with financial organizations through a global network of partners and affiliates. The company has achieved successful adoption in Canadian and Indian markets through their products: LoanConnect and CreditLinks. Asset Direct’s key value proposition is improved accessibility of global financial loan products. For partners, they offer flexibility through multiple ways to integrate and a low cost of acquisition. 


What was Asset Direct’s key research need? 

The team at Asset Direct wanted to expand their offerings into new geographical markets. They sought the support of MaRS Market Intelligence (MI) to help determine the market of interest that presented the best fit for their product. 

The research process: Determining success factors, scorecard ranking and conducting qualitative analysis

First, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to market expansion. However, the process starts with understanding the target market to determine the best fit. 

1. Determining success factors and assigning weightings to each factor

Deciding on the right success factors forms the bedrock of assessing the potential market’s viability and opportunity. These factors refer to parameters that can affect the success of the product or service in any market and vary based on the company’s value proposition, key differentiators and target customer segment. 

Once decided, these factors are weighted in percentage based on their possible impact on product performance in the new market. For instance, in highly regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare, different countries’ regulations would impact successful expansion, hence the regulatory landscape would have a higher weighting. 

With Asset Direct, the MaRS MI team agreed on four main factors: 

  • Fintech landscape: An overview of Fintech innovation and adoption in proposed markets, considering the number of Fintechs and their growth rate
  • Customer profile: Characteristics that define Asset Direct’s ideal customer persona, such as smartphone adoption
  • Country’s macroeconomics: Understanding macroeconomic factors that could impact adoption in the proposed market, such as ease of doing business
  • Regulatory landscape: Researching relevant regulations and policies that impact Asset Direct’s activities
The factors were divided into subcategories for assessment. For example, the Fintech landscape was evaluated according to the number of Fintech companies, amount of funding and Fintech success rates. 


Note: Ensure the data points are available before finalizing subcategories.

2. Scorecard approach

Scorecards are valuable tools for ranking the performance of the intended markets based on predetermined success factors. They have use cases in several comparative analyses and are helpful in making data-driven decisions. 

The scorecard approach involves ranking the countries based on the subcategories per success factor on a scale (e.g., 1 to 5, with 1 being the least and 5 being the highest). The subcategories are summarized and averaged, multiplied by the previously assigned percentage weightings and summed up to 1.0 or 100% for each proposed market. The markets are then ranked to determine the top considerations. 

Results summary
Fintech landscape Customer profile Country macro factors Regulatory landscape Total
25.00% 25.00% 20.00% 30.00% 100%
0.4 0.6 0.6 0.3 0.47
0.6 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.57
0.6 0.6 0.5 1.0 0.67
0.8 0.7 0.4 1.1 0.73

3. Qualitative analysis

The previous step focused on quantitative data. However, new markets must also be assessed on qualitative features that make them the best fit. 

For example, qualitative indicators such as willingness to implement open banking or the population’s overall attitude to financial services and technology emerged as key differentiating factors for the winning market based on our analysis. Qualitative data can be acquired through primary (e.g., direct interviews or surveys with potential market stakeholders) or secondary (e.g., existing reports and analysis on the market) sources. 

Summary and Asset Direct’s feedback 

A culmination of these steps can provide data-driven insights when deciding what markets to explore. These insights can be tested and validated as companies seek to expand into new markets. They help design a well-aligned expansion strategy that uniquely caters to the preferred market, mitigates risks and unlocks growth potential. 

Client feedback:

“The research and analysis of the current environment in various markets we are exploring is exceptional. The report was succinct and offers great insight into the opportunities that exist, while also making us aware of potential challenges we may face. Overall, we are very happy with the report and will absolutely recommend it to anyone looking to explore opportunities globally.”


– Adam Rice, CEO, Asset Direct

This case study underscores the importance of understanding the market landscape, determining and ranking success factors, and identifying risks and opportunities through quantitative and qualitative research to decide on new market potential. As companies navigate the complexities of expansion, leveraging data-driven insights will be key to unlocking new growth frontiers and ensuring a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

Learn more about Asset Direct’s experience in expanding their offerings into new geographical markets from our AMA session with Adam Rice: Overcoming Barriers: A Conversation on Scaling Globally and our International expansion playbook: How to plan for successful global expansion.