How to Succeed in the US Food & Drink Market

The American food and drink market is booming and there is much opportunity for British brands.  British-ness is hot.  From the royal wedding and the London Olympics, to the buzz of the royal baby, the US consumer’s interest in all things British which began in earnest a few years ago is showing no sign of slowing down.  What’s happening in the US food and drink market, and how can British foodie businesses be successful on this side of the Pond?  Read on…


Four trends have become so strong and prevalent that they have sparked entire movements and organizations, and even emerging as industry sub-categories.



Artisans have made a comeback.  Once again integrity, heritage, quality and skillful craftsmanship are valued by the US consumer – particularly in the food and drink realm.  The craft beer and spirits movements and the fact that specialty grocery shops are popping up in neighborhoods across the country and the specialty food areas in mainstream grocery stores are significantly expanding, are testament to the growing demand and willingness to pay a premium for artisan-produced products.



As consumers are becoming more educated and discerning, a product’s origins are becoming important to the differentiation and marketing of food and drinks.  A country or region’s characteristics are celebrated – both for their flavor nuances and their marketing impact.



Wellness has gone mainstream.  No longer relegated to health food stores, today’s American’s food vocabulary includes words and phrases like “all natural”, “organic”, “non-GMO” and “whole grain”.  Label reading has turned consumers away from many long-loved foods and drinks which contain high-fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients with long, difficult-to-pronounce names.  Natural, authentic ingredients are not just product differentiators, for the savviest consumers they are a requirement.



As consumers question where their products come from and how they are produced, transparency and responsible supply chain and sourcing are increasingly important in the US food market industry.  In addition, many companies are finding creative ways to “give back” as this resonates with both their consumers and employees, translating into loyalty and competitive differentiation.



Given this snapshot of food and drink trends, how can a British company bring its product to the US market?  A few words of wisdom…

1.  Recognize the US is a Different Market

While we share a similar language and much shared heritage and kinship, there are differences in language, behavior, priorities and values that can be relevant to your product.  It’s important to be consistently open to the concept that you may need to tweak your go-to-market strategy, resourcing, marketing and messaging to successfully and truly connect with the US consumer and marketplace.

2. Focus

The US is such a vast and diverse marketplace – 50 different states make-up this union.  This creates some complexity, but it also presents tremendous opportunity to find the best-fit market through which to launch your brand onto the American stage.  By focusing on a specific region or channel to market, you increase your chances for success and make the potentially overwhelming size, complexity and required resources for the US market more manageable.


3.  Be Realistic

Success in a new market does not happen overnight. While in business the wisdom in Aesop’s the tortoise and the hare does not often apply, it often makes sense in new market entry.  Take the time for due diligence, market research to ensure that you identify the best market-entry strategy that makes the most sense for your product and business.


4.  It’s OK to Ask for Help

Recognize that while you are the expert in your business, product, brand – you may not be an authority on the US market, in spite of your recent trip to Disney World. Don’t be afraid to “phone a friend”, reaching out to local specialists – import, labeling, marketing, taxes, etc – to help you be successful in the States.  Developing a network of trusted advisors can not only help you succeed but be critical surviving speed-bumps along the way.

Sectors: Advertising & Marketing Services, Food & Drink, and Wholesale & Retail
Countries: United States
Topics: Getting Started, Insights & Statistics, Localisation, and Sales & Marketing
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