international marketing

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Guest blog post: Developing Foreign Business is Easier than You Think | Department of Commerce

Guest blog post: Developing Foreign Business is Easier than You Think

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Portrait of Friesen

Guest blog post by Dr. Cody Friesen, founder and president of Fluidic Energy, an associate professor at Arizona State University and a member of the U.S.Manufacturing Council.

As the founder of Fluidic Energy and a member of the Department of Commerce’sManufacturing Council, I’m always mindful of the state of the economy. It’s impossible not to notice the beneficial impact of trade, and the importance of manufacturing, to the continued growth of U.S. exports.

The Manufacturing Council exists to advise Commerce leadership on the best policies to support manufacturing and U.S. exports.As great as exporting sounds in theory, the barriers to exporting can seem high to many small or medium-sized companies, but that’s really not the case.

I had the privilege of joining Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and 19 other American companies on a trade mission to Latin America, discussing infrastructure development in the region.

We were able to meet one-on-one with government officials and foreign company executives who will be shaping the growing infrastructure of these growing economies. We made crucial contacts and learned the critical facts in each country that will help us to maximize the opportunities for our company in the region.

The Department of Commerce was instrumental in pulling together the meetings most meaningful to Fluidic. TheGold Key Matching Service and the local International Trade Administration staff, especially the U.S. Commercial Service personnel, in each country made it possible to rapidly assess potential business opportunities.

Gold Key is a truly remarkable, and perhaps underutilized, service available to any company looking to potentially enter any of the 72 countries in which ITA has a presence. I can’t speak highly enough of the committed staff with whom we worked in the run up to the mission, and their attentiveness to our business needs once in country.

Fluidic Energy now has the facts, the contacts, and the industry awareness to make sure we can compete as these regions develop the next generation of their energy infrastructure.

So how’d we do it? Simple: we applied.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration leads missions like this regularly. You just find the industry and the region most suited for your business. Then you apply. Then you export.

As we export, we support the economic recovery. We prove that in the face of a global supply chain and a global customer base that U.S. manufacturing is far from dead. We also advance the U.S. knowledge economy, provide protection for our businesses against economic downturns, and we help foreign companies and consumers around the world understand that nothing beats the products made by American companies.

I’d like to thank the Acting Secretary, who is just about to return to academia (yeah!), for leading this mission. She is one of those rare people who find themselves in important roles yet remain remarkably gracious while navigating what most certainly is a highly demanding role. I wish her all the best in her new role.

If you aren’t exporting because you think the barrier to entry is too high, you’re missing out. I hope more of my advanced technology and manufacturing colleagues in the U.S. get on board. The world wants what we have to offer.

Remember, “Sine labore nihil”–without labor nothing.

Guest blog post: Developing Foreign Business is Easier than You Think | Department of Commerce.


Exporting to Vietnam – Quick Tips for Smooth Sailing…

Seeking untapped export opportunities? Then take a look at Vietnam.

From the U.S. National Export Initiative (NEI)

Vietnam is a true emerging market, offering ground floor and growing opportunities for U.S. exporters and investors. Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world, expanding at an average of 7.2 percent per year from 2001 to 2010.  Since the 2001 Bilateral Trade Agreement, trade between the U.S. and Vietnam has increased over six-fold, from $2.9 billion in 2002 to $18.6 billion in 2010.  In 2010, U.S. exports to Vietnam grew by 19.8 percent to $3.7 billion.

For more information about Vietnam:

Brought to you by Ray Hays, Member Arizona District Export Council.

Ray Hays serves as an international consultant for businesses that wish to enter new global markets or expand current operations abroad.

Click here for more information on consulting services of Ray Hays.

Branding: Where China falls short.

By Ray Hays, www.rayhays.com

Few would dispute that China is a formidable competitor in the global arena. The growth of the trade deficit between the U.S. and China is a testimony to China’s success.

In the last two decades, the U.S.-China trade deficit ballooned from $10 billion to $273 billion. Toys to televisions, few U.S. or European manufacturers can compete with the economic advantages of Chinese production and labor.

Yet in the global economy, China has a competitive weakness that sits in plain sight: brand equity.

A quick 20-second Quiz:

    1. Name one brand of American automobile.
    2. Name one brand of American computer.
    3. Name one brand of American aircraft.
    4. Name one brand of American software.
    5. Name one brand of American clothing.

Easy, right? Now let’s try the same quiz… again, in 20 seconds:

    1. Name one brand of Chinese automobile.
    2. Name one brand of Chinese computer.
    3. Name one brand of Chinese aircraft.
    4. Name one brand of Chinese software.
    5. Name one brand of Chinese clothing.

How did you do? Unless you are Chinese, (and maybe even if you are Chinese), the second quiz is much more difficult, correct?

Now, expand this list to most branded products… Unless you’re thinking of martial arts superstars or very long walls, China simply falls short on brand recognition. If you are from Asia, you may know several Chinese brands, but on the global stage, China has failed to become a true brand competitor.

Successful branding is one of the reasons why American brands sell so well. Of course, Japan, Germany, France and other countries have great brands… Sony, BMW, Christian Dior. However, I would argue that in today’s global market United States is still the world’s powerhouse of branded products.

Right now, I’m in my office looking at two computer screens, with the brand names of Dell and Magnavox, a printer branded HP, a wireless router branded Cisco… Yes, I know what you are thinking: Then I look at the little label on the back, and yes, every single one of these items is “Made in China.” All of these products are Chinese-made, but they are American-branded. So are they Chinese products or American products? How much value does the American brand really add to the product?

Ask yourself, as a consumer from the U.S., Europe, Latin America, etc… Would you rather purchase a wireless router branded Huawei or Cisco? Never heard of Huawei? It’s the largest brand of computer router in China… and yes, many tech people might know and trust this brand, but not the average American or European consumer.

Imagine that  you are at your local electronics store, and you want to buy a wireless router. The sales person says, “This Huawei router and this Cisco router have the exact same technical specifications and the same price.”

Which router would you buy? I’d guess 95% of you would buy the Cisco router. Okay, the sales person offers to reduce the price of the Huawei router by 10%. Would you buy it now? Okay, 20% off the Huawei router. Would you buy it now? Eventually, a typical American or European consumer might consider the Huawei router… but at what discount?

In short, the difference in selling price represents brand value or brand equity of the competing products. Brand is a matter of marketing. Brand is a matter of perception. Brand is a matter of purchasing decisions. Brand is a matter of global competition. In this regard, China is far behind the U.S., Europe and Japan.

While American and European companies rely on inexpensive Chinese labor to produce our products, China relies on American and European brands to sell the products.

Ponder these questions:

  • Where would Chinese manufacturing be today without American or European brands?
  • In the future, will Chinese-branded products gain wide acceptance on the global market?
  • How can Americans and Europeans leverage their current branding advantage to better compete with China?

To be clear, I believe that China is a very respectable competitor in global trade. I believe that China produces some of the world’s finest products. (My mother only brought out the fine china porcelain plates on special occasions.) For many centuries, the Chinese demonstrated leadership in global commerce, long before the rise of large-scale European or American foreign trade.

That said, if China wishes to truly dominate today’s world economy, it must first win the global battle of the brands. This will be a tough battle indeed.

Copyright 2011, Ray Hays. All rights reserved
For more information on Ray Hays’ professional background and international business consulting services, click here.