The Magical Boost of an International Marketing Channel

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This has very little to do with sustainability, or the integrated bottom line, though I suppose I could make a case that it has something to do with cross cultural relations. Anyway, here’s an interesting marketing phenomenon – rebranding something that’s utterly generic in one country as something special and/or exotic in another.
Boots is a pharmacy chain in Britain that can be found on almost every corner in any town in the country. There must be a thousand in London alone. It’s like Walgreens, but smaller. Basically it’s a place to go when you need some deodorant. There’s nothing exotic about it whatsoever. In fact Britons would probably laugh if you suggested that the store, or anything in it, was even worth talking about.
Enter the Target marketing channel…


Target has agreed to distribute Boots branded products in the United States. (see the US section here) At a Target near you “The Beauty of Boots Health & Beauty Products Awaits”. Target is now selling a line of Boots branded products. I’ve no idea who’s idea the deal was, but it’s really quite brilliant. Boots gets a massive new market where it’s seen as something special and exotic, and Target boosts its own image as a fashionable & hip, yet cheap, place to shop.
This is nothing new, especially between the US an the UK/Europe. Shopping centers in the US frequently change the spelling of center to “centre” which somehow magically elevates them to a higher level of class. Another example of this phenomenon is Stella Artois, a Belgian Lager. In the US it’s considered quite high-class, hip and exotic.
In Belgium, it’s basically the equivalent of Bud.
What this all means, of course, is that international differences are still very much in effect. I take this as welcome news in an era where Starbucks and McDonalds can be found in every city on the planet. It’s also proof that international differences can be good for business, in a sort of round-a-bout way – marketing something through an international channel may cost more, but you can count on people paying a premium simply because that item is “different” or “foreign”.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He was instrumental in the creation of TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years as well as an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.