Retail Lessons for Marketing Overseas
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dennis Hernreich, EVP/COO/CFO, Casual Male Retail Group last week. We mostly discussed how the U.S.-based big and tall male apparel retailer is expanding into Europe, England in particular, and the lessons Hernreich has gained from the experience.
1) English – English is not American-English
The English refer to some clothing differently than Americans. Hernreich emphasized that it’s important to speak in local terms to avoid being written off immediately.
“They don’t want Americans doing business in their countries, generally.You can’t look like an American,” Hernreich said.
2) Operate locally
Local offices, local mailing addresses, local phone numbers and local accents answering the phones are important.
“You need to have a presence in Europe in some fashion to do business there. You cannot operate in Europe from [the U.S.],” Hernreich says
3) Taxes can be complicated
Instead of sales tax, some countries have a Value Added Tax (VAT), which can be complicated to calculate.
“We spend more time on VAT than anything else.”
4) Opportunities are out there
Casual Male’s audience of big and tall men is not easily identified, and are often marketed to with costly broad cast ads, Hernreich said.
“We have a nice market and we’ll just continue to expand ways in which to obtain these guys and retain them,” he said.
One way Casual Male is planning to expand is by expanding further into the European market, Hernreich said. The competition in big and tall male apparel is fragmented there (as well as in the U.S.).
“A lot of them are small, family-owned operations that don’t have the buying power and the fashion know-how of a bigger company like us. So that’s what creates and opportunity for us,” Hernreich said.
My lesson from the discussion: Marketing overseas can be a big challenge and a big opportunity.