As companies eye-up the US market and construct their US market entry strategies, they often regard the American market as a single homogenous entity. It is a logical conclusion – after all it is called the “United” States of America. However, just scratching the surface of this “land of opportunity” one will find that this approach is flawed and could jeopardize a business’ chances of success in the States.
While there are commonalities in the American psyche and culture, it is important to recognize that the country is made up of many distinct micro-markets. As set out in the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, the states operate independently in many regards. And of course there are cultural differences from one region to the next.
How different could it really be? Consider the following 3 areas within your US business plan.
1. Use a Different Scale
America is a vast country. It is 3,400 miles across and will take 2 days of non-stop driving to reach the West Coast from the East Coast. Within this the geographic and climate conditions vary greatly. So what? There may be implications for your shipping policies, transportation methods and distribution models – in terms of both architecture and cost.
2. Make Local Connections
A quintessential melting pot, America is a mélange-in-motion of cultures and ethnicities and influenced by regional traditions and geography. As such businesses and consumers needs, behaviors can vary greatly across the country. For this reason, beyond Coca-Cola and Apple there are very few companies who have blanket national marketing and advertising campaigns and reach. Due to the scale of the States and its diversity, it would be more accurate to describe America as 50 discrete markets. Balancing strategy built on the common elements of the US market with local market approaches is part of a successful go-to-market plan.
3. Who Knew?!
While some say “variety is the spice of life”, operating a business in America would be less complex if the legal and tax systems were consistent from coast-to-coast. The fact of the matter is that taxes and laws vary state-to-state, county-to-county, city-to-city and sometimes even neighborhood-to-neighborhood. Rest assured that there are local resources with experience in these realms that can demystify the requirements and help incorporate them into your business model.
Bottom-line – America is not a single homogenous market, but a collection of diverse and vibrant markets. How do you successfully navigate this?
1 Understand the landscape and micro-markets
2 Define your reach objectives and business plan armed with this understanding
3 Focus your entry on a specific regional market. You can expand your reach once a solid foundation is established.
4 While you know your business best, local expertise and experience can be invaluable
This diversity within the United States contributes to making the country such a vibrant “land of opportunity”. A foreign business’ success will in part be due to an understanding of the market itself, and ability to anticipate and translate the market nuances into their US market entry plan.