If you want to make it in the U.S., remember to pack some respect 

Ever since the pandemic has started to fade away into the background and its impacts on business have lessened, the buzz between the Nordics and the United States has been on the rise. And why not? The U.S. has a huge potential customer base for both B2B and B2C brands. In fact, the gross domestic product of California alone was $3.6 trillion in 2022. Not only does that make the Golden State the biggest economy in the U.S., it puts California on the map as the world’s fifth-largest economy. 

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While Spotify, IKEA, Nokia, Vincit, and certain game companies have carved a place in the United States, there has never been a perfectly steady stream of Nordic success stories in the U.S. Often the blame is put on investments that are inadequate for this huge and costly market. While that’s certainly true to an extent, there is something else at play that hampers Nordic companies.
 
Due to shared Western values, and the long-standing political and economic trust between the nations – now further reinforced with Finland joining NATO with Sweden on its way – there is a strong belief that the Nordics and the United States are quite similar culturally. While there may be huge differences in the education and healthcare systems, otherwise, there is common ground as far as the eye can see.
 
Or is there? In fact, the cultural disparities and miscommunication often sabotage deals from the outset.
 
Nordic people can be very fact-focused. They go in to meet a potential new U.S. partner or customer – and pitch their product that will undoubtedly solve the American customers’ problems.
 
However, the company forgot to listen to its American target audience first. Instead of showing understanding of the problem from their American customers’ point of view, many companies jump to presenting their product or service as the perfect solution to every problem. This may be a digital education platform targeted at schools that requires internet access.
 
Well… what if not every school even has internet? 
 
The Nordic countries are frequently ranked at the top of the happiest countries in the world. From that position, it’s easy to point out what’s wrong with America – and how we can fix it! But it’s unwise to bring negative preconceptions of the country into a sales pitch.
 
Every Nordic and European business aiming for the American market must take a moment to understand not only the business opportunities but also the country’s uniqueness, starting with its colossal size. Americans grow up in a nation where they strongly believe it to be the most powerful country in the world.
 
And, you know what? In many ways, the U.S. genuinely is the powerhouse it believes itself to be.
 
You don’t need to burst into the national anthem, but in addition to your sales deck, it’s wise to bring along a generous dose of respect for the United States and its people.
 
 

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