It's game on as big Asian brands pursue their globalization strategies.
I recently spent a week in New York with one of our larger clients in Asia, looking to enter the U.S. market. Their category is ultra competitive and the brand and products are virtually unknown in the West. But let me tell you why they will succeed.
Alibaba, Tencent, Uniqlo, Lotte, Haier, Geely and Rakuten are not household names in the West. However, they have become leading brands in Asia, and brands with strong global aspirations.
These are among a new wave of Asian brands that have emerged within the last five years. These are also brands very different from their manufacturer-focused predecessors like Sony, Panasonic and Samsung.
These staples had originally set the scene as large behemoths intensely focused on quality and innovation, though at a slower pace than their Western counterparts.
In fact, Samsung is the only Asian brand to still crack the top 10 ranking in Interbrand’s 2014 Best Global Brands study. Its focus towards increasing investment in R&D across both design and technology has enabled the brand to stay ahead of consumers’ continuous demands for next generation devices.
The one key factor the new wave of Asian brands have done to separate themselves from their previous colleagues lies in their deep focus on branding.
Asian brands have intently studied the branding practices of companies like Apple, Nike and Virgin and have looked to integrate some of these elements to make their own brands come more alive.
As an example, Uniqlo has created a strong image through its focus on lifestyle, rich imagery and use of global brand ambassadors, of course backed by strong Japanese manufacturing practices.
Uniqlo has also teamed up with Western designers to provide clothes that fit more to Western tastes and (Read more...) – a key ingredient if it is to be successful outside of Japan.
When shifting to the technology sector, the technological distance of sophistication between Asian companies and Western companies is already getting smaller and smaller.
In late 2014 we saw the US$25 billion IPO of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba which indirectly led to a greater focus on other Asian technology start-ups. Alibaba itself is eyeing global expansion to areas like Brazil and parts of Western Europe.
Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, has already established operations in Germany and the U.S. to better cater to these regions while at the same time imposing English as a working language within the company with goals of better “understanding and thinking” like Westerners, says its chief executive officer (CEO) Hiroshi Mikitani.
Line, another Japanese technology company in the messaging space, has already made a big push overseas and has a growing number of Western users that are attracted to its easy to use messaging services.
Four areas that are inherent within Asian brands that are helping to set them up for global success is a family-like atmosphere, a focus on long-term strategies over short-term gain, a sense of nationalism and pride that is translating into greater employee productivity, and an ability to quickly adapt as we saw with the example of Uniqlo partnering with Western designers and Rakuten’s focus on English as a corporate language.
A fifth key attribute could be their pure dedication towards world-class customer service and hospitality. You can clearly see this in action when flying Singapore Airlines or staying at a Mandarin Oriental hotel.
All of these traits, when combined with a rich history in manufacturing and an ambition that goes along with emerging market mentalities will be the killer formula for their success in the West.
*Image via Shutterstock
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