The USA: a big prize but beware of false assumptions

I believe one of NZTE’s great strengths is the in-market expertise we’re able to call on, and it was my pleasure recently to talk to one of these experts in a key market for New Zealand manufacturing exporters – the United States.

Albert Costilo, a business growth advisor in NZTE’s Washington office, talked me through the challenges facing New Zealand businesses looking at this market, and while none of this is rocket science, it provides real pause for thought for those thinking about the United States as an export destination.

The prize is big, of that there is no doubt – but we’re not the only ones who see this, and that means expectations from local partners are high, and competition is perhaps more stiff than anywhere else in the world.

Potential partners can therefore afford to be discerning and have very high expectations in terms of post-sales support, digital marketing and proactive engagement – companies that fall short of meeting these expectations will be quickly replaced.

Amongst the most damaging assumptions is that the United States is one big market.  It’s not.  It is a collection of smaller markets defined largely be geography that have differing commercial conditions, competitive landscapes, and regulatory settings. Exporters that are not clear on their targets, from geography down through to market segmentation and customer persona, are at risk of a very time consuming and costly search for a proverbial needle in the haystack.

And while we share a common language, the United States is not just a bigger version of New Zealand.  Albert and his colleagues see too many New Zealand companies who underestimate market entry planning, and simply expect market conditions in their chosen niche to be the same as operating domestically.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Whether it be underestimating the time, financial cost or drain on human capital, or just adapting existing offerings instead of actually designing for the market, these repeated mistakes cost New Zealand businesses a huge amount; and as with any competitive market, you only get one chance to make a first impression. For more information, myNZTE is full of resources to support manufacturing businesses operating in or looking to enter the USA. Check it out