Going Multinational? A Quick Guide to Doing Business in the US

With US culture permeating the world in the form of products and entertainment, it would be easy to assume that you already know the culture. However, if you are expanding your business into the United States, understanding the business culture and how it differs from that of Europe, will help you to establish yourself faster and improve your chances of success.

There are significant cultural differences between the US and other English-speaking countries, and even within the US, the business environment, including the legislative environment, differs from state to state. There are some generalisations that we can make, and these underscore the differences between the EU and US markets.


Understand Brand Loyalty and do Your Homework

Despite the US being a hub for innovation, US consumers have a reputation for conservatism in their purchasing habits. Brand loyalty, for example, can be a force to be reckoned with. Even if you think your brand is “better” than an established US one, going head-to-head with it in the competitive stakes is likely to leave you conceding defeat.

Market research will be one of the preparatory steps that helps you to determine how likely you are to be able to establish your brand in the USA. Maximise your chances of success by looking for unaddressed needs and gaps in the market rather than going all-out to beat US companies at their own game.


Local Content is Important

Even before the ascendency of President Trump, US consumers were concerned about local content and more likely to be loyal to US brands than imported ones. His calls for increased use of local products and raw materials reflect his electorate’s sentiments. Although macroeconomic factors like trade deficits may not feel close to home for most citizens, they worry about job creation, job losses, and see “buying American” as the patriotic thing to do.

That doesn’t mean you can’t sell the goods your country is famous for or expand into the US market with other products or services, but making use of the local supply-chain and US services will help to build goodwill. For example, if you are able to produce your product locally using locally sourced materials, it’s advisable to do so. Instead of using multinational, European courier services, you may want to consider smaller, US-based businesses like ReliableCouriers.

The more of your production and distribution can be US-based, the greater the chance of being seen as “US-friendly.” If your brand is already recognized as a European one, you should certainly highlight the local content you leverage in order to promote your business.


Make an Impact With Bolder Marketing

When marketing your business or its products in the US, bolder statements should be made than when addressing EU consumers. As an example, visible affluence is more highly valued in the US, so marketing messages that might be considered overly flashy in the EU will be more likely to be considered aspirational and impactful in the US.

While you can definitely be bolder and more “out there” with marketing and advertising exposure, there is a caveat. Be cautious about cultural differences and localise your messages. Using humour in your United States advertising, for example, may even result in negative publicity. What may be considered hilarious in Germany may prompt nothing but puzzlement in the US. It may even be considered offensive. In the EU, weirdness and even a little naughtiness in advertising are often impactful, but jokes and edgy advertising ideas can backfire spectacularly in the US. 

At the same time, you can use advertising strategies that EU consumers might consider invasive and nobody will bat an eyelid. Americans are accustomed to being bombarded with commercial messages. High-profile advertising and marketing that might put EU consumers off may represent a good route towards making an impact on the US consumer.


An Affluent Market, but Beware of Preconceived Ideas

A little knowledge is said to be a dangerous thing, and thinking you understand the US market based on superficial perceptions can, indeed, jeopardize your plans for expansion. Although entering the affluent US market can substantially improve your company’s overall performance, entering it requires thorough preparation that takes its unique cultural aspects into account.


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