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Brands That Prioritize Global Customers and What We Can Learn from Them

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American brands are finding that appealing to a global audience pays off. The global retail market is dominated by U.S. brands, with half of the top 25 global retailers hailing from the U.S. and Canada, JLL research into retailer presence in 140 global cities shows American cultural dominance of music, movies, and consumer packaged goods helps promote the global reach of U.S. brands, creating an appetite for American goods.

Brands with an awareness of American culture’s global appeal are reaping the rewards of catering to their overseas customers. Here are three major brands that prioritize their global customers, along with some takeaways that other companies can learn from these brands.

Tommy Hilfiger

Among numerous American designer brands that have established a strong global presence, one of the most successful is Tommy Hilfiger. By marketing classic American brands to foreign markets, Tommy Hilfiger has transformed itself from a U.S. company into a global brand. Tommy Hilfiger now has global flagship stores abroad in Paris, London, Dusseldorf, and Tokyo, with anchor stores everywhere from Mexico City and Sao Paolo to Moscow and Beijing. The brand boasts the biggest global presence of all designer brands, with locations in 94 percent of the leading 140 global markets and 100 percent of the top markets in the Americas.

Company founder Tommy Hilfiger says he began envisioning the company’s expansion into Europe and Asia in as far back as 1999, seeing an opportunity to build a premium fashion label. In order to achieve this, Hilfiger did market research in each prospective location, with country managers assigned to find out what type of apparel would have a location appeal. For instance, the company’s research found that German consumers like heavier and darker fabrics than consumers in Spain or China. At the same time, the company learned that some fashion trends have cross-cultural appeal, such as consumer desire for “affordable luxury”—quality at a reasonable price. Tommy Hilfiger expanded slowly by establishing select brick-and-mortar stores in key locations until it had a feel for local markets. A takeaway other brands can learn from this is the need to research overseas markets and adapt to local consumer preferences when considering global expansion.

Apple

As one of the world’s most valuable brands, Apple is another leading U.S. brand with a global presence. Tied for the 21st spot among global brands, Apple’s reach encompasses 70 percent of the top global markets. Apple has turned to developing markets such as India and China to outflank competitors who are entrenched in developed economies and multiply its revenue.

One key to Apple’s global expansion has been the company’s commitment to standardization. Every iPhone has the same design regardless of the region where it is sold. Every Apple Store around the world follows the same personalized approach to dealing with customers, although the look of the store is adapted to fit in with the local culture. A takeaway that other brands can learn from Apple is that a successful formula can be replicated in other locations once you’ve identified what works.

Amway

Another U.S. company with a strong global presence is direct sales giant Amway. In recent decades, Amway has enjoyed tremendous expansion in Asia, where its sales in China, South Korea, and Japan surpass U.S. sales, with Thailand also ranking just below the U.S. for sales. In fact, U.S. sales now account for just 10 percent of the company’s revenue. Leveraging its overseas’ success, Amway is now in the early stages of a 10-year global expansion strategy called AmwayNext.

An important component of Amway’s global success has been its manufacturing logistics strategy. One reason overseas customers want Amway’s products is because a “Made in America” label suggests quality to global consumers. However, the logistics of selling in other countries also makes outsourcing to foreign manufacturers a viable strategy for certain products. The trick is to know what can be manufactured domestically and shipped cost-efficiently and what makes sense to outsource, Amway has found. For instance, nutrition items can be shipped cheaply to anywhere, so it makes sense to produce them in the U.S., whereas liquid home care products with a high weight are more cost-efficient to produce regionally while keeping R&D in the U.S. for quality control. A takeaway other brands can learn from Amway is to research logistics options thoroughly when building a global brand.

Tommy Hilfiger’s cultural adaptability, Apple’s standardization, and Amway’s strategic logistics are three successful examples that brands seeking to develop a global presence can emulate. By making the extra effort needed to meet the needs of global consumers, U.S. companies can dramatically expand their marketing reach, build their customer base, and multiply their revenue.

 

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