Breaking into the US market is not just plug-in and play
While in Berlin, I had my share of discussions about complexity of entering the US market. Many of the brands I spoke too, had the unrealistic notion that anything was possible in the US. They assumed that all it takes is introduction to the right individuals and access to the right sales channel to get their brands embedded in the US market.
Unfortunately, even thought the following is true for other markets, the US is a lot more fickle. The US consumer has access to a plethora of options and is constantly bombarded with advertising. US consumers are jaded and do not buy in to marketing slogans as easily. Launching a product successfully in the US is a delicate formula of branding, strategy, and wittiness.
1. Do your research – Perform an extensive competitive analysis before entering the US market. Who is your competition? What are they doing right or wrong? Is there a gap in the market? How can you add value to the US market?
2. Zero in on your offering – You will not enter the US market being all to everyone. You must provide one thing really well. A successful Asian women apparel brand I worked in the past insisted in bringing their entire stock to the US a few years back. In my eyes, their strength was in their women’s business slacks and professional apparel. I felt strongly that if they introduced in the US market their comfortable slacks, they would take the market by storm. In the US unless you are willing to spend $300 or more, there aren’t comfortable, well-tailored professional suits available for women. By focusing on the professional women demographic, they would had been able to make a serious tent in the marketplace. Instead, they decided to bring their entire collection which spread from going out to lounge wear and became just another brand that melted within the vast competition.
3. Build your credibility – Building credibility is key when entering the US. As a foreign brand, you are starting from scratch. It doesn’t’ matter how renown you might be abroad. You will need to start from the ground up by reaching out to influencers and having a strong marketing / PR tactic. Your brand will need to be seen whether if it’s by attending events or purchasing advertising. You will need to be extremely pro-active.
4. Test the waters – I highly recommend before launching in the US to start by testing the viability of your product with smaller markets. Pick an exclusive group who can comment and test out your product. Whether it’s reaching out to college students, or going to less metropolitan towns like Austin, Texas; Portland, etc. Be open to their feedback and optimize your campaign accordingly.
5. Be ready to invest – Entering the US market is costly. Unless, you devise a viral campaign, getting your brand the attention it needs, will cost money. Give yourself a full year to properly launch. The results won’t happen overnight.
The American audience is hard to impress but if your product is on point, your campaign witty, and get the right influencers onboard, you will be golden. Remember Spotify!