We all have heard the old saying ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’.  It makes a lot of sense and applies to any country in which one wants to do business successfully.  We discussed the definition of success in an earlier blog post.

Attitudes towards business, risk, and business relationships, in general, vary greatly between Europe and the United States.

Europeans tend to be more conservative about business, money, and risk. Relationships between companies tend to last for years. The same is often true for relationships with employees.  Developing new business relationships in Europe generally takes a long time and requires a high level of trust and bonds – once formed – are much harder to break.

On the other hand, Americans are much more open to forming new (business) relationships relatively quickly.  The ties between companies tend to be a lot looser, and never get in the way of pragmatic decision-making.  Americans generally like to keep their options open.  They also tend to be much more entrepreneurial and focus on long-term opportunities.  The future, not the past.

What does this mean for European brands – including wineries – who want to sell their brands and products in the US market?  First of all, the importance of understanding American business culture and appreciating how adapting to it will be very beneficial in building a successful brand image and sales this side of the Atlantic.

This also requires acceptance that successfully doing business in any foreign market does require adapting to the way business is being done there.  And sometimes to let go of what is familiar and comfortable and accept different approaches.  If things don’t go as planned, the willingness to find alternate avenues.  Instead of hoping that a certain path will eventually lead to success.

Before social and digital media became mainstream, reaching US consumers was a difficult and costly endeavor.  Nowadays, it is a lot easier to reach a specific target audience and introduce a new brand.

Americans are generally very fond of European products and wine is no expectation.  In marketing campaigns, brands can showcase their roots in various ways to create an emotional connection with consumers.  Do ads in their native language with subtitles.  Be funny, be creative, and be memorable.

Does all this mean Americans are willing to pay a premium for products from Europe?  Not necessarily.

It all depends if consumers consider it a good ‘value’ at a given price point.  German cars tend to be cheaper in the US than in Germany for a reason.  Products that are a lot more expensive in America than in Europe will have a greater challenge to find an eager target audience.  A wine that retails for €10 does not necessarily turn into a $20 value in the mind of consumers.

High-end luxury products may be an exception from this rule but the market will be very limited.  And creating a high-end image in America does not come cheap.

So start looking at the US market as a unique opportunity to reinvent your wine brand or maybe even create a new one.  Whatever you do, think like an American, and success will be a lot easier to achieve.