Content - Success secrets of Swiss world market leaders

  • June 27, 2017

Success secrets of Swiss world market leaders

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – A robust core business, successful expansion into new geographical sales markets, crisis management, and excellent employees are the basic patterns of small and medium-sized Swiss companies that are world market leaders in their field. This is the main result of the study ”Swiss Champions 2017“ produced by the Swiss subsidiary of the accounting and consulting enterprise PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The study shows how Swiss companies become global champions and successfully go digital. For the third edition, PwC Switzerland collaborated with Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) as its study partner.


Swiss world market leaders

The 151 Swiss companies surveyed stand out globally with a superior product. They would consistently focus on the customer and recognize the value of people, the report (published in German and French) said. Swiss Champions would also be taking a pragmatic approach to the industrial revolution. Employees would engage in the digital change.  

There are three aspects that turn successful Swiss small and medium-sized enterprises into global champions: having a top-class solution of products and services is the first key. Being where the customers are is the second secret to success. The third factor is being aware of the value of people: Swiss Champions offer their employees exciting further training opportunities. The staff appreciate the short decision-making processes with rapid response mechanisms.  

The malices of the big, wide world

All Swiss champions have the courage and speed at planning, implementation, evaluation and correction, until they have developed the necessary competencies to perfect their international activities. As with innovation, this process almost always follows the principle of trial and error. However, the Swiss champions learn quickly and use their experiences to expand their competitive edge.  

One of the greatest risks is the theft of intellectual property. A company can protect itself with defensive mechanisms such as patents, attorneys and other legal measures. However, Norbert Klapper, CEO of Rieter Holding AG, sees another tried and tested means against plagiarism: "Patents are important and we defend them. At the same time, we are working on the next innovations that secure our lead. "  

All Swiss champions can rely on innovation. If the competition has copied the existing product, a Swiss champion usually already has the next product ready. In addition, the champions are gaining an unrivaled advantage by covering the entire value chain from research and development to production, sales, training and maintenance. They do not necessarily sell only one product, but often a whole service chain.  

Case Study: EAO AG

Specialized in interfaces between man and machine, EAO is the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality switches. Every day, millions of people literally get in touch with EAO products, be it when opening train or bus doors or when operating the accessories in a cockpit. EAO is also present in Japan. CEO Kurt Loosli says: "To be accepted as a producer, we had to perfect our customer service to the Japanese level."

For example, a client in Japan can demand next day delivery. This requirement must also be met by the foreign manufacturer. EAO now serves 80 percent of the Japanese railway market with tailor-made door release switches.  

Digital: yes, but pragmatic

The majority of Swiss champions consider digitization to be an opportunity for further company development. However, many are still in the early stages of their complete transformation. Norbert Kühnis, Leader Family Businesses and SMEs PwC Switzerland, explains: “Digitization commences once it offers the customer added value and is therefore of strategic benefit to the company.”   

Marcel Widrig, Leader Private Clients PwC Switzerland continues: “The employees of the champions are not afraid of the fourth industrial revolution and they sense that the management is pushing forward with digitization.”  

Complex general conditions

Swiss champions are established worldwide. This global networking means that Swiss companies are confronted with protectionist measures in various countries, or currency risks, e.g. due to Brexit. Swiss champions are geared to the long term. This allows them a certain amount of calm when dealing with the current global environment.  

Daniel Küng, CEO Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), has this to say: “The best crisis management strategy for Swiss exporters is to have a broad international network: those who export to many different countries balance out risks and tap into new growth markets.”  

The full study (in German) can be downloaded here.    


Text: PwC Switzerland as published by S-GE; Photo: flickr/Tahir CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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