Yet, Fresh & Easy not only has to compete with other grocery chains and local independent Mom-and-Pop shops, but it also must deal with the consumers themselves. Fortune recently reported that a new study from IBM found that 73 percent of American consumers either "actively dislike or are ambivalent towards" their local grocer, which is a challenge unique to the US that Tesco will have to overcome.
Winnie the Pooh and US Talent, Too
One company that is in even earlier stages of its US launch is Egmont, a UK children's publisher known for publishing such characters as Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. The company has plans to launch a US division this year, with its headquarters in New York. Industry veteran Elizabeth Law is poised to serve as vice president and publisher.
The company has lofty goals: to become one of the top ten children's publishers in the US within five years. But Egmont is making all the right steps toward a successful leap into America. While the company plans to keep its core—children's publishing—Egmont is willing to adapt to its new market by using it as a source for authors, talent, and books and not just as another source for customers and money.
"We have spent two years planning this and one of the things we found was that to be successful in America you need US-originated books," said Douglas Pocock, vice president of Egmont, according to UK industry publication The Bookseller. "We won't be putting out UK titles in the US just for the sake of publishing something."
Egmont, however, has to go up against well-established and respected publishers such as Random House Children's Books and HarperCollins in order to claim its spot among the top US Children's Publishers.
Know Thyself, But Be Flexible
Launching in the US is a major corporate undertaking that changes the way a company operates. Virgin, Tesco and Egmont all recognize the delicate but essential balance between maintaining brand identity to help connect in a new market and altering the product and the image of the company to appeal to a new audience. Effectively walking that line demands that the company must stay united even while working across different cultures and perspectives. And after all of the research and brand positioning, these challenges are just beginning as local competition adjusts to foreign competitors.
With each brand that comes to the US—from the UK and otherwise—brands learn more about who they are, and who they need to be—even in their own neighborhoods.