The Netherlands: nexus of innovation and expansion
Country Manager of WPP in the Netherlands, Eric Kramer, discusses how Dutch businesses succeed around the world and how WPP's Amsterdam Campus is helping global companies tap into Dutch talent right in the heart of the EU
The corporate world has come to the Netherlands. Survey Amsterdam – or any major city in the country – you will see global companies choosing it as the epicentre of their operations. From Netflix to Nike and Uber, the Netherlands has drawn in these corporate giants, harnessing talent to carve their stake in the international market.
However, this northern European hub is distinctive from others like it. Indigenous – but global – Dutch companies line up alongside global – non-Dutch – counterparts, mirroring their stature and reputation across the globe.
From the Netherlands, companies succeed in shifting the dial in culture, and they win both market share and the hearts and minds of consumers and businesses around the world without compromising what they stand for as businesses.
Creating an infrastructure for success
Returning to the upper echelons of the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking in 2023, the Netherlands serves as an enabler of strategic growth. The nation stands out in areas crucial for brand expansion and is a huge contributor to innovation and sustainable growth. With robust investment in technological progress, a diverse and skilled workforce, a vibrant job market and a web of international connections, the Netherlands provides the fertile ground necessary for the seamless global expansion of brands.
Be they electronics, financial services, retail or beverage brands, the Netherlands is the birthplace of – and international HQ – of numerous global companies, some of which have spawned even larger companies with further reach and market share.
Action is a great example. It started with one small store 30 years ago in the Dutch town of Enkhuizen and is now the fastest growing non-food discounter in Europe. WPP is proud to have played a role, supporting the brand as it launched in country after country. Now WPP’s remit is supporting this Dutch company grow as an international client – not a domestic client – but with a very strong Dutch base.
And all this takes place against a backdrop of constant change in the home market. Consumer behaviour changes, their preferences shift, competitors come and go, markets are disrupted – ruptured even – and macroeconomics enhance or do their worst to the status quo. But the Netherlands and its brands are known for their ability to navigate these challenges, ranking ninth worldwide for agility and second for adaptability in WPP’s 2022 BAV Best Counties study.
Whatever the business challenges and successes, the heritage of the brand must be safeguarded too. It is on these foundations that a company builds its ESG initiatives, and it is from here it works out where it is headed.
The Netherlands, a powerhouse of innovation, also ranks prominently in the European Innovation Scoreboard, bolstered by a robust ecosystem of universities and technical schools that help produce talent. Over 40% are international students and their share is still growing. But the pipeline cannot be left to fill itself. Global companies are increasingly creating early talent programmes in the Netherlands to grow their own talent base –London or New York previously being the obvious choice for this. And WPP is no different. Intern programmes help to keep the pipeline full and ensure WPP retains the talent it nurtures.
Of course, it helps that talent happily convenes in the Netherlands too. The country ranks first for gender equality, racial equality and religious freedom according to WPP’s BAV Best Countries study in 2022, attracting diverse and inclusive talent; and comes ninth worldwide for quality of life. So, it’s no wonder that the country and its capital Amsterdam are a honeypot for international talent seeking to live and work at the centre of Europe. We see time and again that vacancies in WPP’s Amsterdam Campus attract applications from around the world. It is no bad thing that English is the language of business and is spoken widely in the Netherlands.
It’s one thing to bring people together and quite another to build a team out of individuals. This is where WPP’s strategy is the differentiator. The campus strategy – introduced four years ago to the Netherlands with Amsterdam as a launch location – is all about bringing together communities that enable WPP people to connect on a human level.
And this revolves not just around the work but also around career stages, the need for support, specific interests and distinct lifestyles. Campuses – like the one in Amsterdam – enable interaction, peer learning and socialising so that, when the inevitable work challenge emerges, the relevant expertise is easy to spot. That is how to crack a problem. This is how we work at WPP.
For clients, having a local team based in a campus – working globally across many markets with all their nuances – is the gateway they need to the rest of the world. The combination of global reach from a single hub is what works.
A gateway to global frontiers
The Netherlands, whether serving as a launchpad for global aspirations or a nurturing ground for international giants, holds an irreplaceable role for brands aspiring to grow within or beyond its borders.
Simultaneously, global conglomerates recognise the intrinsic value of tapping into Dutch expertise and enriching their brand strategies. This delicate blend of skills, cultural diversity and entrepreneurial spirit underpins WPP's mission – to guide brands from local recognition to global reverence.
The Netherlands emerges as an ecosystem where innovation, expansion, and brand legacy seamlessly coalesce, offering brands a steady yet innovative anchor amidst the dynamic currents of the global market.
30 August 2023
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