Having spent the last four weeks in the USA studying the American market, I’ve compiled four takeaway points that could be helpful for NZ businesses aiming at extending their customer base to the land of the free (and significantly better off financially than much of the world).
The internet, and with it globalisation, has opened up much of the world to businesses previously restricted to marketing locally here in New Zealand. Now, with an online shopping website, just about anyone can start selling to the world, even the competitive USA market.
Here are a few observations that could help as you develop your marketing plan.
1 – New Zealand is not a hard sell
The good news is that, compared to other countries our size, you’re ahead of the pack. Not only does NZ have a large presence for a small country, but Americans love kiwis (except when we steal their America’s Cup, smart move giving it away Dean). They have a high opinion of us and our products. Just today I overheard a woman at the gym saying she was importing milk whey from NZ for her line of health products and how good it was.
2 – Americans enjoy a personalised service
For a country of over 313 million people you’d think they would only want to deal with big nationwide chains but the reality is quite the opposite. While big stores like Walmart and Macys are popular, what’s more popular are the local corner stores and smaller startups. Businesses with friendly names like Trader Joes, Papa Johns and Jim’s Restaurant. Businesses fronted by a real person with personality and a homely home-grown goodness about them. If you can work that into your marketing then well done.
3 – Americans are not always open to change
As a younger country it’s generally easier to adapt to change but Americans are comfortable with what they’ve become used to. That’s not to say they won’t try something new but package it in a way that makes them feel like it’s a little bit familiar – maybe it’s the wording you use, the packaging, the connection with an existing product they know and love – like peanut butter or Dr Pepper. So if you’re selling woolly socks then having a line of peanut butter-scented socks may not be as silly as it sounds.
4 – Boutique is big
You may not realise it but NZ products are often considered boutique and exclusive by Americans. Leverage that perception in your favour. For someone in the States to show off a boutique, ‘not-seen-around-here’ product is sometimes more valuable to them than the product itself so where possible flash that silver fern and kiwi-uniqueness! It’s also a reminder to generally stay away from trying to compete in the mass market or on price – you won’t win that battle. Having said that most kiwi business owners are not afraid to punch about their weight so that advice could well fall on deaf ears!
The USA is a great place, the people are friendly and outgoing, generous to a fault and polite. And NZ businesses shouldn’t be afraid to introduce themselves. Develop a marketing plan, a shipping strategy and a Google advertising campaign and just do it! It may be the best thing you ever do to grow your business.