Reverse Commercial Imperialism.
Amongst companies, retailers, and brands, this year has punctuated just how global our economy really is. It’s no longer guaranteed that a company has a distinct national identity or that the companies and countries one might think would be winning are. For example, in the past, U.S. retail companies were the ones expanding across the globe seeking world domination, but this year marked Alibaba, China’s primary e-commerce play, coming into the U.S. market, both with its IPO and its launch of 11 Main, an Etsy/E-Bay competitor. And Alibaba isn’t the only play; over the last few years, we’ve seen other foreign companies take a strong lead on U.S. shores relative to American competitors:
- Uniqlo (Japan) is taking on Gap and winning.
- Zara (Spain) has taken on affordable fashion houses such as The Limited and others.
- H&M (Sweden) offers just as much affordability, but more fashion, than an Old Navy.
Contrast this with Best Buy being yet another U.S. retail giant that just this month announced its departure from the Chinese market. Revlon left in the prior year, and Tesco, a U.K. grocery chain, decided to not go it alone and instead partnered with a Chinese firm.
Over the years, brands have also lost their country-of-origin identity. Volvo and Saab of Sweden are now owned by Chinese companies. Budweiser, a quintessential American brand, has been owned by InBev, a Belgian-Brazilian company, for over 5 years. And the Chinese have set their sights on European investments, as well.
Yet, going in the other direction, take oil production. The U.S. this year became the top oil producing country in the world—that’s even compared to Saudi Arabia. Or take manufacturing, as brands like Shinola bring manufacturing back to U.S. shores.
Industry Forecast: Help me win globally and on my own shores regardless of the nationality of the business and brand.
Miller, Mark J. “Best Buy Exits China in Move to Focus on North American Business,” Brandchannel.com, December 4, 2014.
Sanderson, Rachel. “China swoops in on Italy’s power grids and luxury brands,” Financial Times, October 7, 2014. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1bd60160-4496-11e4-bce8-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3N84fyFZS
“China loses its allure,” The Economist, January 25, 2014. http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21595001-life-getting-tougher-foreign-companies-those-want-stay-will-have-adjust-china
Smith, Grant. “U.S. Seen as Biggest Oil Producer After Overtaking Saudi Arabia,” Bloomberg, July 4, 2014.