What International Brands Need To Know About The US Market – Forbes
International brands can’t take a cookie-cutter approach. The U.S. market is very different than other markets, and successful brands understand and accept this.
Here’s what you need to know about expanding your business into the United States.
Understanding The U.S. Market
In a nutshell, the U.S. market is different in one big way: Consumers have all of the power. Historically, retailers have made the decisions. Brands set trends and consumers followed suit. But today it’s a different story.
The internet has given customers the ability to make their voices heard. They can now research their options and decide what they want without setting foot in a store. Information access changed the market, shifting the power away from retailers to consumers. Now retailers have to watch consumer preferences to get more traffic to their stores. Follow these tips to empower U.S. consumers while growing your brand in a new market.
Get your basics right.
If you want to enter the U.S. market, you’ll need to set up channels for U.S. shoppers to find your brand. Use this checklist to seamlessly enter the American market:
• Efficient third-party logistics for shipping and fulfillment. Remember that many U.S. shoppers expect their packages within two days. Make sure your fulfillment and shipping practices deliver on that expectation.
• U.S.-approved testing and packaging. Every country has its own regulations for product safety. Make sure your product meets safety guidelines and complete any necessary testing. Update the packaging to English if necessary.
• Samples. If you sell a product, have plenty of samples ready. This will help you reach both influencers and consumers more quickly.
• U.S. website access. The first thing customers do when they hear about a new product is to check out your website. Make sure U.S. customers are able to access, understand and navigate your website with zero problems.
Understand your audience.
It isn’t enough to target all consumers in the United States. You have to know who, specifically, your product is for. Millennial and Gen Z shoppers, for example, want to know that their purchases make a difference. They give their money to products that give back. Know where your customers spend their time online, what they expect from a brand like yours and how you can best appeal to their needs.
U.S. consumers are suspicious of brands. They want to do their research before buying anything from you. That’s why international brands have to be easy to find online. This means you need the awareness and credibility that comes from a smart PR strategy. Look into methods like influencer marketing, videos and discounts to bring in curious customers. Build up your employees and founders as a facet of the brand. This will showcase your team’s credibility and expertise in a market where you’re unknown. This is the key to building brand loyalty and customer advocacy when you’re in a foreign market.
Build a community.
U.S. customers see a lot of branded content. How is yours going to grab their attention? Successful international brands know that content alone won’t bring in more customers. You have to create an engaging social community around your brand to get customers to pay attention. Don’t ignore your customers. While it’s important to talk about your brand and product, it’s just as important to talk about your mission. Give customers space online to rally around your mission, chat about products and connect with each other. While community-building takes time, many brands are able to quickly move into a market when done properly. This builds consumer demand and quickly establishes your company as a household name.
For example, Swedish furniture brand IKEA came to the United Staes in the mid-1980s by building community hype. Today their IKEA Family program rewards loyal customers while building a community around IKEA products.
The Bottom Line
No matter your success elsewhere in the world, the U.S. is a different playing field. Although outside success is an essential foundation for growing your brand, think about U.S. consumers first.
Instead of facing an uphill battle, create a pull in the market by understanding your consumers’ demand. Through building community, staying active online and growing influencer relationships, you’ll create a proof of concept that will make your brand a household name.