Does your brand travel well?


Does your brand travel well?

It’s not just language translation that matters in a foreign country.

There’s a lot of talk about localisation being the magic ingredient for international retail success, “essential” would no doubt be the cry from Best Buy, Walmart and Tesco (with woeful launches in the UK, Germany and China respectively).

Ebay, Google, Groupon, Mattel, McDonalds and Starbucks can hardly be classed as failed businesses, however they too have floundered dramatically in certain countries such as China, Australia and the Caribbean.

All simple cases of local consumer behaviours and cultural tastes being overlooked.

Size and scale can over time engender an all conquering self belief, when it comes to global expansion. Had they stopped their expansion juggernaut for a moment and looked local, Starbucks would have realised that the independent coffee shop is so intrinsic to the Australian cultural psyche, that any large chain would struggle.

When it comes to brands though, the story is very different. ‘Local’ is still the key, but in this instance, success lies in knowing that your brand translates to the local market. There are some UK brands we know well who now have strong appeal (and profits!) overseas.

With Ralph Lauren, Van Heusen and Brooks Brothers, who would have thought that Charles Tyrwhitt and Thomas Pink would have found a place in the US market amidst America’s dominate shirt brands.

Entering a market with well established leaders, may seem fool hardy to some, others however recognise an active target consumer. Add a nuance of USP and cache (British Heritage with echoes of English establishment tailoring – albeit from a 28 year old newcomer) and you have a ready made success. Of course we mustn’t make light of the founder’s vision, strong team and operational strengths – these clearly matter too! Starting life as a mail order company, then branching into ecommerce has undoubtedly helped test Tyrwhitt’s international potential beyond just expat purchases.

Another similar aged business, perceived as a heritage, iconic English brand is Cath Kidston. Although there is no resemblance to local products in some of its high growth overseas markets, an eager existing consumer is present.

Laura Ashley in its heyday benefited from a strong trademark signature look that proved highly lucrative overseas, especially in Japan. Liberty, home of the iconic floral print and art fabrics still enjoys great success in Asia and Japan too. Therefore, by tapping into the region’s appetite for quintessentially British, slightly eccentric style, Cath Kidston’s sales have thrived. It’s perhaps no coincidence that their International Director, hired a couple of years ago, was based out of Hong Kong from day one.

Men’s formal shirts to eclectic, retro, English feminine homeware, what do they have in common?

  • For both the brand is not just a name, it’s a total holistic message about who they are and what their offer is.
  • Their brand message is simple and understandable.
  • Pricing and quality match perceptions and expectations.

But most importantly they identified target customers and markets waiting for them.  It may be time to review those online international enquiries?