"Fosters: Australian for Beer." Tagline for Fosters beer commercial.
"No rules. Just right." Tagline for Fosters beer commercial.
"The Westfield Group is an Australian shopping centre group … operates one of the world's largest shopping centre portfolios with investment interests in 104 shopping centres across Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Brazil … total assets under management in excess of A$63 billion." Wikipedia (Westfield Group)
From my experience in the US, there are two divergent paths for an Australian company coming into the US. One is an Australian company whose brand says nothing about Australia, and the other is a brand that is very "Aussie". Westfield is not overtly Australian, but Fosters cracked the US beer market decades ago with a very Aussie image. Both are successful well-known brands in the US.
Millions of Americans are unaware that the Westfield shopping center (mall) where they do their shopping is owned, built, and managed by an Australian company. They love the convenience of having all their favorite stores located in one place, and the store owners enjoy having a landlord who provides them with a high quality real estate solution at an affordable price. Westfield’s branding in America does not incorporate the Australian flag or kangaroos because being an overtly Australian company adds nothing to their value proposition. The most important thing for all businesses is making a strong connection with the customer. That requires developing an understanding of what drives your audience, and what are their real fears and aspirations. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because Americans tell you that they “love Australia” that they will have any interest in Australian products simply because they are Australian.
There are some products and brands that are overtly “Aussie” and have used that personae to gain market share. However, not all of those companies are Australian. For example, Americans go to the “Outback Steakhouse” restaurant to relax with some fine “Australian” cuisine and soak up the “Australian” atmosphere provided by their “Australian” hosts.
The fact that “Outback Steakhouse” is an American chain that was developed by Americans is something that is unknown to most of their patrons. The customer knows what an Australian good time is because they have seen the movie “Crocodile Dundee” and the Fosters’ ads, and they feel very comfortable when they see those familiar symbols at the Outback Steakhouse. This company has been successful because it has spent a large amount of money on a well-planned marketing and advertising campaign that targets their audience with “feel good” images.
Fosters is another brand that has successfully used the “Aussie” brand to build its business in America. The average American would probably name Fosters as “THE Australian beer” because Fosters ran a successful American advertising campaign based on the “Fosters. Australian for beer!” tagline. Fosters built on the existing reputation of Australians as beer-drinking characters who you would like to have a beer with. Fosters and Outback Steakhouse both tackled the US market with a marketing strategy that worked more like a lever than a sledgehammer because they aligned their brand images with the existing perception that Australians are friendly, informal, and like to have a good time. They retold a story that American audience already knew, and that provided a feeling of familiarity and comfort, which in turn made it easier to get customers to spend their hard earned dollars on beer and steak dinners.
If you are selling a feel good product such as food or wine, then the Aussie character may help to get recognition, but you will still need to achieve the standard of quality and service of the Outback Steakhouse if you are to grow your market share in the US. However, if your
product is an industrial widget that makes machines run efficiently, or some other functional product, then being “Aussie” probably adds nothing to your customer’s bottom line. The trick is to determine what your customer wants to see.
If you want to provide input on other successful Australian companies then comment on this blog or send me a message via email or Twitter.