Don’t Let Homogenization Lead to Cookie Cutter Geographic Expansion

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Geographic Expansion

With 400 locations, Giraffas® is the second largest chain of restaurants in Brazil. In 2011, Giraffas® executives concluded that it was time to expand into the United States. They didn’t want to compete head on with McDonald’s. Even though their menu includes hamburgers, they went with a “fast casual” concept instead of just “fast food.” They don’t have waitresses, but guests can buy steak, salmon, specialty sandwiches or fancy Brazilian specialties in addition to burgers. They are currently getting ready to launch their 8th US location (in Florida). Giraffas® is an example of adapting a model when the growth strategy involves geographic expansion. They could see the need to adapt when looking at the USA from BRAZIL. They have started in Florida. Let’s hope they know that Florida can feel like its own country when compared to Texas or Minnesota.

Many of the chains that use a nationwide menu need to localize their marketing. Applebee’s has one menu, but the walls of each restaurant have posters, news clippings, banners and photos of local sports teams. They want you and me to think in terms of “your neighborhood Applebee’s.” When you Google “Applebee’s” and click through to their website, the home page features the address and information about the special events at the location near you. They know where you live!

As our consulting firm expanded from the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States into the southeastern and Midwestern regions, we needed to add a reasonable number of employees who didn’t talk so fast and were comfortable with words/phrases like “y’all,” “you take care now, ya’ hear?” and “have a blessed day.” Also, it was more than that. Embracing differences in time management, family values and the open discussion of religion, etc. helped.

Our expansion into Europe involved hiring local “pathfinders” who knew the countries, local customs, politicians, educators and business leaders. It also involved language lessons, legal fees and tailored marketing campaigns.

When you travel to most locations in the United States now, the strip malls look the same. The condominium communities look alike. Chain restaurants can be found everywhere. If you base your geographic expansion on what you see, you can make some expensive errors. Things seem to be fairly homogeneous across this country…until you relocate (live) in a different region for an extended period of time. You cannot convince me that a marketing campaign that was tailored to the people who live in BANGOR (Maine) will be as effective for people in BROOKLYN (New York) or BOISE (Idaho).

 

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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