But the key to taking advantage of these opportunities, they argue, has become an emphasis on the visibility-gaining and differentiating power of the brand. This can lead to higher revenues, market share and profits and is the key to creating a “unique and ownable” position in the U.S. market.
The writers cite three brands as examples of foreign-based companies that already have successfully followed this path:
- South Korea-based Hyundai, which “entered the U.S. as a cheap vehicle, and overcame country-of-origin issues by offering the first [extended] powertrain warranty. The company focused on the design and performance of its cars, differentiated its offering and then spent heavily on its brand. They now have a market cap of $9 [billion], and even offer premium luxury vehicles. A successful model, corporate sibling Kia has followed Hyundai down basically the same U.S. path.
- Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, which now rivals Apple as a leader in smart phones by using a “focus on innovation” and aspirational tag lines targeted to young Americans and “superb connectivity” across devices and platforms.
- Corona, which rose from a popular brew among American college students visiting Mexico on spring break and leveraged clarity in positioning their brand, extensive advertising campaigns and significant levels of spending to capture the spirit of Mexican beaches and, still popular among the Gen X set, has become the No. 1-selling imported premium beer in the U.S.
To copy the success of such brands, Grace and Ackerman said that foreign companies must address key challenges, including adapting their business model to the realities of the U.S. market, taking a long-term perspective, and addressing “country of origin” issues that may attach themselves to a company whose domicile doesn’t have a good reputation for quality among American consumers.