Trade Promotion and Advertising
Traditional media dominates the advertising landscape in Belgium according to market and consumer data company Statista. Reports indicate that offline advertising spending in Belgium was only slightly lower in 2021 than in 2019 and 2015. And even though digital tools and channels are becoming more popular among marketers each year, forecasts suggest that TV will remain the leading advertising medium in Belgium for the foreseeable future. The share of advertising spending devoted to the internet stands at only 25 percent as of 2022. One digital trend that is increasingly embraced, however, is the use of video for marketing purposes. Data shows that online video ad spend in Belgium stood at an estimated 166 million euros in 2020 and accounted for roughly one-third of total digital display investments. Video attracts and retains online user interest like few other formats and seeing that social media apps such as TikTok have taken Europe by storm, it would be no surprise to see Belgian advertisers ramp up investments in video campaigns and other digital channels more vividly in the future.
Belgian Media Landscape
In Belgium, the Flemish, French and German language communities are served by largely separate public and private operators and media ownership is very concentrated. According to the BBC, most newspapers, television, and radio outlets are owned by a small number of Belgian companies. DPG Media is the largest private media group. Cable television is widely watched and stations in neighboring countries, particularly France and the Netherlands, have large audiences. There were 11.03 million internet users in Belgium at the start of 2023, when internet penetration stood at 94.5 percent. Facebook is the leading social media platform.
- Het Nieuwsblad - Dutch-language daily
- Het Laatste Nieuws - Dutch-language daily
- Le Soir - French-language daily
- De Standaard - Dutch-language business daily
- L’Echo - French-language business daily
- De Tijd - business daily
- De Morgen - Dutch-language daily
- La Libre Belgique - French-language
- Grenz-Echo - German-language
- RTBF - French-language public broadcaster
- VRT - Dutch-language public broadcaster
- VTM - Dutch-language commercial broadcaster
- Vier - Dutch-language commercial broadcaster
- RTL - French-language commercial broadcaster
- RTBF - public, French-language public broadcaster; stations include La Premiere, Classic 21, Vivacite
- VRT - public, Dutch-language public broadcaster; stations include Radio 1, Studio Brussel
- Belgischer Rundfunk (BRF) - German-language public broadcaster
- Belga Press Agency
- Flandersnews.be - English-language news site of Dutch-language public broadcaster
Belgium is a highly competitive market in which the Belgian importer is looking for the best quality at the lowest price. American products and technology are highly regarded but do not command higher prices than comparable products. It is important to remember that while Belgium is a significant market in its own right, it is also the country of entry for many imports originating from many countries, with final destinations all throughout Europe. This characteristic gives Belgian buyers access to a wide range of products at competitive prices.
U.S. companies are advised to quote prices on a Cost Insurance Freight (CIF) basis, surface, or airfreight. This is standard practice for most exporters since it facilitates price comparison between EU suppliers. Import duties are usually quoted on a delivered to warehouse basis. The standard VAT rate is 21 percent. This rate applies to all goods and services not qualifying for one of the reduced VAT rates. Visit the TVA page of TVA of Belgium.be for more information.
Sales Service/Customer Support
Belgian consumers expect well-designed, high-quality products, with efficient after-sales service. An effective servicing system should be incorporated into distribution plans. U.S. exporters should commit to investing extra time and money to develop a relationship with their local representative by visiting sales personnel or company technicians to help solve initial problems. Having local representatives regularly submit sales reports can help with analyzing sales results and identifying potential problems.
Local Professional Services
Contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Belgium for guidance on local professional service providers.
Principal Business Associations
- Enterprise Europe Network
- AmCham Belgium
- AmCham EU
- Invest in Flanders
- Invest in Wallonia
- Invest in Brussels
Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services
Belgium does not limit the sale or ownership of products or services to citizens or any other sub-set of the population.