Doing Business in LA: Vista Entertainment

By Brierley Penn

5 years ago, 1% of Vista Entertainment’s revenues were generated in US markets. Today, that figure sits at 25%, and the growth in this integral market has assisted Vista in becoming the world’s leading company operating in the cinema exhibition business.

Derek Forbes delivered his “Three Do’s and One Don’t” at the NZ Doing Business in LA seminar last week, providing some practical insight on how to succeed in a challenging market.

The moral of the story is a requirement to ‘Americanize’ your business, in order to compete in a local market saturated with brands.

“The economy here is of such scale that it is entirely self-sufficient, and so businessmen here are not used to

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having to deal with people in other countries. So you need a local presence to make them feel better about that.”

To achieve this, a presence on the ground in the US is crucial, but reshaping business practices to accommodate to the market will require a more concerted strategy. A commitment to the product, and a commitment to building your product in the US market will drive success.

Practical steps such as attaining US customer references in order to gain credibility in the market were highlighted as an important first step. To an American market, international companies can appear exotic and risky, so gaining legitimacy through building a few key relationships at an early stage will be vital.

Ensuring that your company’s marketing caters directly to a US market also plays into this. Forbes stressed that it is important not to understate the importance of using American spelling and terminology in marketing strategies. “It’s not about trying to hide the fact that you’re a New Zealand business, it just makes you seem a little less alien.”

His final message was to remain focused, and not become distracted from your goals in the region. With an economy worth $10,000bn, in comparison to New Zealand’s $60bn, the potential speaks for itself. But successfully doing business in the region will require a concerted strategy.

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