Our Blog

Brand Failures

Why Global Businesses Fail in Indonesia

Indonesia has long been a magnet for international brands who plan to expand a global presence. Although expansion can be successful, there are various factors a business must consider before they expanding to Indonesia.

There are some prominent examples that have failed to create a presence in Indonesia. Evidence would suggest that this failure boils down to ill-considered market strategies along with a tendency to generalise the diverse Indonesian market.

Seven-Eleven (7-11)

7-11 is seen almost everywhere in Asia as the number one convenience store at least in Singapore and Thailand. However, even though there are no 7-11s in Indonesia this is not for want of trying. In Indonesia, 7-11 decided to target the youth and adopted the idea of being a place for the younger generation to hang out with free Wi-Fi.

It did attract a lot of youngsters, but most of them just bought inexpensive items and would just sit there and use the free Wi-Fi, without purchasing other goods. The sales suffered tremendously, and 7-11 was forced to withdraw from Indonesia


Nando’s once opened a store in a mall and soon after had the same fate as other major brands. Nando’s failed mostly because Indonesians preferred a chicken dining place that was more affordable. Let’s not forget that Indonesia is still a developing country. In addition Indonesia uses a vast range of spices in its recipes. Nando sauces options were not unique enough.


Walmart used to have a store at Pluit Village – a shopping center located on Jl. Pluit Indah Raya, Pluit, Penjaringan, North Jakarta, Indonesia. The main reason for Walmart’s failure in Indonesia was that consumers took advantage of the 30-day return policy. As a result, sales were always low, and residents in Indonesia did not have high purchasing power like people in the USA.


Originally from Malaysia, this petrol company was actually quite successful in Indonesia at the start. However Indonesians stopped buying Malaysian products as a result of the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation. The confrontation  was a violent conflict from 1963–66 that stemmed from Indonesia‘s opposition to the creation of Malaysia, and led to the closedown of Petronas.

Ford, GM and Chrysler

Unlike Japanese car brands, these American automobile brands have not succeeded in Indonesia despite high expectations and an aggressive market strategy. These brands howver failed to appreciate that Indonesia has a relatively weak automobile market as compared with other Asian regions. Although they have tried to enter the market in Indonesia a few times their sales figures were always low and they have had to withdraw.

Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries in the world. There are massive differences between poor and rich people and their purchasing power, and targeting all the citizens at the same time is hampered by different religions, traditions and lifestyle.

Although Indonesian has made good growth in the past years, it still remains a developing country and should not be approached in the same way as developed nations. The minimum wage in Indonesia differs across regions, and the location of your business is thus a very strategic decision.

Indonesians will have a strong brand loyalty, and companies that somehow insult or do not comply with traditional values and culture will soon suffer from antagonism towards their products and services. Not to forget the powerful role of social media in Indonesia that can destroy your business or cause a drop in your sales within a few days.

So, what should you not do when expanding to Indonesia?

  1. Remember that what worked elsewhere might not work in Indonesia
  2. Do not pick the biggest market but focus on its segments
  3. Never underestimate the impact of culture traditional values in Indonesia

For more information on how Business Due Diligence Indonesia can support you please contact us. BDDI can also recommend Investigation companies in Indonesia such as Indonesia Private Investigation Agency and Bali Eye Private Investigation Agency.


Show Comments (5)

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work! Please upgrade today!