How to Succeed in the World’s Most Commercially Attractive Market

Many British businesses have found the lure of the US irresistible – often with less than satisfactory results. Retail group Marks & Spencer’s ill-fated acquisition of preppy clothing brand Brooks Brothers, which it sold in 2001 for a third of what it paid for 13 years earlier, is one of the clearest examples where it can go wrong. But there are many others. No doubt there will be more if the urge to grow fuels expansion plans.

But a new book shows that America doesn’t have to be a graveyard for British companies, or anywhere else.exist make it in the usa, Strategist and consultant Matthew Lee Sawyer, whose business Rocket Market Development helps companies identify opportunity and succeed in the US market, has some advice for avoiding disaster. Among his success stories are how a Turkish immigrant went from running a feta cheese company to buying a bankrupt dairy and creating Chobani, which became the best-selling yogurt in the U.S. in five years, and how Korean industrial company Hyundai broke into the U.S. car market.

But he also illustrates how things can go wrong. One of his case studies focuses on Alpina, a Colombian dairy and food company whose decision to expand into the US in 2007 was inspired by the country’s growing Hispanic population and the idea that the yogurt market was worth $6 billion and growing at 12% Encouragement to 15% per year. It sees competitors as two French brands, Danone and Yoplait, and according to Sawyer, it completely missed the rise of Chobani, a less sweet, thicker yogurt that entered the U.S. market the same year as Alpina And changed the taste of the US market, rapidly growing to $460 million in sales and 10% market share. Alpina still operates in the U.S., but its products are sold primarily in specialty stores aimed at Latin American consumers and, according to research cited in the book, no yogurt has been sold since 2019.

The difference between the two companies is that Alpina built a factory – saddled with high costs and challenging debt terms, which in turn meant it had to be aggressive in its plans – while Chobani’s founders have An existing factory under construction was purchased at a competitive price and was abandoned by a business exiting the yogurt market. Unlike Alpina, Chobani expected success to come slowly but was surprised when it came so quickly, giving it the cash to help expand further and avoid complex financing deals. But no matter where a business is located, these are the factors that can make or break a business.

The value of the Sawyer tree is to remind the reader of two oft-cited axioms that are often forgotten or ignored. The first is that while English is still the primary language in the US, it is not quite the same as the language in the UK. For example, companies who think they don’t need to tweak their sales brochures or have a different website are dead wrong. Second, the United States is not one market, but several different markets. Markets are largely determined by geography, but, as Sawyer explains, also by the origins and attitudes of the dominant groups in their populations. Companies that don’t seek to understand these nuances and a general appreciation of American culture may end up missing out.

Ultimately, though, luck and timing must play a role in business success — in the US as elsewhere. Had Alpina been a little earlier than Chobani, things might have been different. Likewise, if Hyundai had launched in the US a decade or so earlier, it probably wouldn’t have done so well. But by the time it rolled out its first cars in the mid-80s, Americans had grown less fond of their gas-guzzling cars and perhaps more open to newcomers. Even so, it managed to win over the public with a heavy pitch of Hyundai’s history, some innovative advertising and — perhaps most importantly — some astute pricing.

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