We hear (and write) plenty about all the trends that have originated or been popular in the United States before spreading to the UK and rest of the world. There are lots of American influences in modern European culture, but the same could be said in reverse. The rational plan for companies and brands based in the UK and looking to expand is to target markets like the US, and many have been able to do just that over the years. But what does it really take to crack America?
Historically it has been quite common for British firms to fall into the trap of thinking America is very similar to the UK compared to other countries. Our languages may be (almost) the same, but cultural differences make a huge impact when it comes to marketing goods and services, and in many cases the USA differs vastly compared to other markets within Europe. It takes a clearly defined strategy for UK brands to succeed in America, but by paying attention to the right factors and tools, it can be done.
One key factor in 2016 is digital marketing, which has been the key to success in many recent cases. UK brands that have already mastered the art of creating an online presence and a strong identity without even need a physical location or tangible products have been able to recreate that success in the US more easily. Global communication channels like social media and search engines are already essential for local success online, so expanding those abroad is less complex than it used to be.
Specifically with retail, the UK is a huge player within the continent, but the US has been a bigger player for longer and has proven a tough nut to crack for most British brands. In fact, the statistics prove that the American market is the toughest one to enter for UK firms, ahead of China and Japan. Huge names like Tesco and Marks and Spencer have misjudged their strategies and tanked in the States, while Topshop and ASOS have managed to get it right.
The key is to focus on what British brands are able to do well. It’s not just about playing up the fact that Americans have an affinity for their interpretation of traditionally British culture, but the UK has actually proven a sound understanding of e-commerce and financial success. British consumers are tech-savvy and have already been used to paying online for good and services for some time, but they’re also smaller in number than the US population so they can afford to be picky.
If you’re confident with your brand and you think you’ve identified a gap in the US market, you shouldn’t be put off, you just need to appreciate the challenges you’ll face and make sure you have a plan to deal with them. If you manage to get it right, you could soon be leading a global business empire!