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Why marketing in the U.S. is different


Key Differences for International Entrepreneurs to be Known



One of the biggest differences between European and American consumers is how much of their personal data consumers are comfortable with businesses accessing.

Europeans tend to be far more sensitive on the whole about what data is collected about them and how it is stored and shared.

They are also more wary of marketing messages that have been tailored to them using their personal data (personalization).

When it comes to the American market, the use of first-party data in advertising and marketing has led to an expectation that consumers will receive personalized experiences from the businesses they engage with.

This means that potential customers are far more comfortable with receiving on-brand tailored messages, recommendations, and related products based on data about them that the company holds. This can include aspects such as account information, online behavior, and service usage.

By using this data, not only can you target your intended customer more effectively, but they will expect that you do so. Personalization, therefore, is a key component of marketing to American audiences that you need to be aware of, and make the most of, if you want your business to stand out in a large market.


American consumers shop in different ways to many Europeans. Only 55% of European consumers shops online compared to 79% of Americans. This means that, in addition to being comfortable with receiving targeted brand messages online, Americans are far more likely to use their smartphone to shop on the go, while watching TV or during lunch hour while at work.

The use of technology means your potential customers will expect to see a modern, stylish and up-to-date online presence from you. You must have a good website and a social media presence so that American consumers can connect with your brand.

America, on the whole, has embraced new media more than their European counterparts. Consumers want to be able to access product information electronically and are often far more open to marketing communications like webinars or remote product demos. Even when it comes to B2B marketing, many potential customers want to engage with their suppliers electronically. Consumers in the U.S. also tend to do more research online before buying, so a strong online presence is vital.

Because of the expectation that brands will be accessible to American consumers, service expectations tend to be different. Americans expect a high standard of customer care and focus. Americans rated being thanked for their time/custom highly, and are unwilling to spend long on hold when contacting customer service.

Americans, in general, are more likely to respond favorably to prompt customer service. They will even build their loyalty and spend with a brand after they have made a complaint if they feel the complaint has been dealt with quickly and to their satisfaction.


It’s hard for many Europeans to understand just how vast and fragmented the U.S. is, both geographically and in terms of consumer markets. The U.S., rather than being one large homogenous market, is a patchwork of markets. Each state has its own regulations and tax laws and even customer service expectations can vary depending on where in the country customers are located.

This means that you need to research to understand your target market and how to position yourself within it. The U.S. market tends to be very saturated and its size means that extreme targeting and personalization are the best ways for you to make a mark with your product or service.

When you are planning your expansion into the U.S. it’s vital that you define a small and precise target group and research how best to explain your product or service to them. If you already have a channel in Europe you can use this to build on as you start to research and expand.

Find out ways that you can start to build a direct brand-customer relationship and take the time to learn how your audience likes to be spoken to and engaged. Make sure you spend time researching the specific market requirements and expectations in the area you want to sell in.

In many European countries, entrepreneurs find that when they expand, due to the smaller size of their market they are forced to diversify. In America, the opposite is often true. Because the U.S. is in reality 50 different markets with different expectations, it’s too difficult to diversify and grow when treating America as one whole.

Instead, a more effective approach is to laser focus on one demographic or area with a focus on a specific niche. From there, success is more likely if you are relentless in targeting this narrower band in order to carve out your specific niche.


It’s tempting to think that the language barriers that can make European markets feel fragmented will not be present as you expand into America. After all, the vast majority of Americans (231,122,908) speak American English as their first or primary language. This can fail to take into account how important it is to understand the way that language is used in the U.S.

There are over a thousand words with different usages or meanings between British and American English, and though many of these differences are subtle, the way they are used can make a real difference to how your brand is perceived. How you choose to word your products or services in marketing materials and websites can make a massive impact on your potential customers. If they see incorrect word usage, they can swiftly write you off as not having the credibility and trustworthiness they demand.

One way to ensure you don’t fall foul of language issues is to ensure you have at least one native speaker who can check your marketing content for errors.

Getting the tone of your marketing right can also make a big difference in the competitive U.S. market. Though you will have to do your research and understand how your target audience thinks and what their priorities are, it’s safe to say that in general, the way you present your product or service will be different in America.

European businesses are often a lot more understated and modest in their marketing. Marketing tends to be a little more literal and focuses on features of products as well as a few benefits or specific capabilities.

In America, on the other hand, customers are often used to buying products far more on aspiration. They want to know how a product or service will make them feel, and what outcomes they might experience from using it. Often the bigger the better (while being realistic) is the way to go when asking for a slice of consumer attention from busy Americans.

Though nobody has an exact figure, Forbes claim that American’s see between 4,000-10,000 marketing messages a day. This means that you may need to be bigger and louder than you are used to being in the European market to help you stand out. For example, typical call to actions such as “Shop Now” or “Buy Today” are far more likely to be perceived as normal in the U.S., as opposed to too aggressive or “in your face” for many European consumers.