NEW YORK — Retailers considering operations outside the United States need to go into other markets with a focused, aggressive global strategy — not with a toe-in-the-water mentality.

That’s the message from Grady E. Means, managing partner of integrated management systems for Coopers & Lybrand Consulting Services, who addressed the Retail Marketing Society here last week.

“Don’t go to collect flags; go to own markets,” he advised. “Retailers must identify the top 10 markets where they want to focus their overseas business, and then open an appropriate number of stores to justify advertising and to build brand awareness. The key is a lot of stores in a few focused countries.”

Means said other things to consider are:

  1. Density of urban population and the number of middle-income people.
  2. Political stability.
  3. Availability of adequate infrastructure, like roads and telephone lines.

“Go into a new market only if you have a unique proposition,” he cautioned. “And don’t underestimate the cost of entry or the time to reach prosperity,” he continued. “You must be committed to it.”