The Brands that Conquered America

Globalisation is a divisive subject – some see it as a blessing, others as a curse. Regarded as a standardisation of business and cultural features around the world through the diffusion of commodities and ideas, the phenomenon has grown through various means including – but not limited to – E-commerce, international travel, currency banking, popular culture and wireless communications.

Toyota Hybrid car

For many – both critics and champions of globalisation – the concept is widely laid at America’s door. Certain US-based sportswear, burger chain, coffee shop and soft drink brands in particular seem to be constantly highlighted as the most prominent symbols of globalisation.

However it would be wrong to interpret globalisation as “Americanisation”, as many brands from outside its borders have infiltrated the USA to become market leaders and therefore spread their own nations’ influence among consumers and other stakeholders. This is an important thing for British businesses to note – the American market can be cracked by overseas organisations, and indeed it may well prove to be your most important market.

One only needs to look at the car industry – once one of the strongest bastions of American industrial supremacy. The 2014 table for the top ten selling vehicles in the US marketplace has products by home grown Ford, Chevrolet and Ram in the first three places. Ford also pops up in tenth place with its Fusion, but the rest of the table is made up by Japan’s Toyota, Honda and Nissan. While the top three spots may belong to Michigan, collectively the Japanese brands beat their American counterparts in terms of number of vehicles sold in that top ten.

Taking a leap from cars to furniture, a recent list by Furniture Today showed that the American flag flew high for US furniture stores by sale… with one foreign company shaking things up. Wisconsin based Ashley Furniture Home Stores was in first place, but it was Swedish giant IKEA in number two – far ahead of well known American names like Crate & Barrel and Pier 1 Imports.


photo credit: Gerard Stolk / Flickr

With all respect to the Ashley brand, IKEA is undoubtedly the best known brand – frequently appearing in American pop culture, from shopping scenes in the movie (500) Days of Summer to a thinly disguised parody in The Simpsons. More importantly, the USA is the second biggest market (after Germany) for this distinctly Swedish brand now headquartered in the Netherlands.

These are of course large scale examples, and indeed only scratch the surface when looking at America’s acceptance of overseas brands. But similar trends have involved across the business spectrum – particularly with regards to luxury, niche and specialist brands. Could your business be big in Boston or huge in Houston? Opening a currency account will assist you in researching and laying foundations for that pursuit of the American dream.


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