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Transitioning to the U.S. Market

What it means to do business in the U.S. for a foreigner, especially Italian

For foreigners looking to expand their brand, doing business in the United States can be a great opportunity, but it can also pose big challenges. The scalability of business in the U.S. market can be made accessible to any business and any player, but making the transition to a foreign market like the United States requires a great deal of preparation and a true change in mindset, one that allows a business to understand the “local” language of customers and of doing business there. For those of us who struggle with organization or come process and procedure, in particular, need to become immediate priorities and eventual habits.

Two factors present the biggest challenges for those transitioning from the Italian business culture to the U.S. market. The first: communication. Learning how to successfully communicate and “make things happen” is very important. Secondly, one must consider distance, which plays a big role not only in the daily commute but also in business overall. For example, if a product doesn’t have the right marginality or the correct distribution planification, the logistical costs of distribution could be enough to kill the profitability of a business.

However, despite these challenges, the U.S. market remains attractive to foreign companies and business people. The United States has roughly 150 million consumers who speak the same language, think the same way, and possess two times the spending power of other foreign countries (except China), forming a solid base for any business that wants to approach the market.

Italian business culture holds a particularly strong position in the U.S. market. The United States is the third largest Italian export market, with a market share of 9.1% (19,774.27 million USD), following only Germany and France. U.S. consumers view the “Made in Italy” mark not just in terms of commercial success but also as a philosophy — one that conveys values of beauty, craftsmanship, quality, sustainability, civic sensibility, and even playfulness.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, in particular, there are a lot of similarities between the Italian business culture and the U.S. market. In the food business, especially, the large Italian community is backed by the presence of a good number of businessmen and businesswomen who already successfully operate many restaurants and other businesses. At VentiQuattro, we view ourselves as a company that builds bridges between these markets and provides a pathway for companies to be successful through the transitional process of penetrating the U.S. market.

In the end, success is determined by how prepared and willing someone is to change their business approach and be humble in understanding a new and different market. A product that is successful elsewhere may not be the best fit for the U.S. market, and a good business person will need to be ready to change or adapt their product to meet local needs. In addition, businesses must be ready to invest in research to better understand where consumers live, the habits they have, and how to communicate your product to them successfully.

All in all, though, the U.S. market still presents a great opportunity for foreigners to do business, and when it is done correctly, opens new doors and provides new opportunity!