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To a large group of the world population, luxury brand goods sit on a mythical alter—their rarity, expensive price point, and high demand make them difficult products to obtain.  From items like watches and handbags to clothing and shoes, these retail brands carry the ‘best of the best’ merchandise and make it a point to tell consumers.  Recent news from the United Kingdom-based company, Burberry, shows the lengths that luxury brands go to in order to preserve their pristine, high-status image, and whether or not they are worth it.

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A collaboration between Supreme, a top-tier streetwear brand, and Louis Vuitton, a high-end fashion company, has produced a hoodie that costs upwards of $7 thousand.  Another collaboration between Supreme and The North Face, a winter outerwear company, gave way to a $600 backpack.  So what’s causing this uptick in prices for everyday items?  Streetwear—the casual clothing of a style worn especially by members of various urban youth subcultures—is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, with an estimated value of $309 billion.

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This week, the globalEDGE blog is taking a look at long-term mega trends that will have a major impact on international business in the coming years. Today, the focus is on changes in demographics and society, and how these factors can influence business decisions. Being aware of demographic and social shifts is vital for businesses, especially those who are conducting business across international borders. Changes in population or consumer attitudes can force businesses to adapt, or risk losing their place in the industry. Because of this, many businesses are constantly looking to the future to try to get ahead of the trends before their competitors can.

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[This blog is based on the Article Snapshot for my article with Michael Giebelhausen, HaeEun Helen Chun, and J. Joseph Cronin Jr. in the Journal of Marketing, July 2016. A six-minute radio dialogue between Michael Giebelhausen and Tomas Hult about the article is on the globalEDGE Business Beat]

Consumers experience a "warm glow" and heightened service satisfaction when they participate in a provider's voluntary green program (and vice versa), an effect that can be dampened or heightened depending on how participation is incentivized.

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[This blog is based on the Article Snapshot for my article with Constantine S. Katsikeas, Neil A. Morgan, and Leonidas C. Leonidou in the Journal of Marketing, March 2016. A six-minute radio dialogue between Neil Morgan and Tomas Hult about the article is on the globalEDGE Business Beat]

An assessment of performance outcome measures in marketing reveals significant problems with how such outcomes are conceptualized and operationalized and performance areas in which empirical knowledge of marketing's impact is limited.

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Companies’ supply chains should be strategic, analytical, total value systems that are focused on bottom-line profit. The days when supply chains were an operational activity to get a truck from point A to point B are long gone. The leverage that supply chains need to give companies and, by extension, customers is telling.

Nowadays, depending on where you live, some 70 to 90 percent of what we buy for regular consumption and use are not made in our local area. And supply chains are increasingly becoming more strategic; companies leveraged supply chains for 17 percent of their strategy in 2005 and now that number is 21 percent.

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Expanding a company abroad can provide a number of advantages for a company. The sales life of products and services can be extended by finding new markets to sell them in, thereby reducing dependence on domestic markets. Additionally, there is an increased ability to even out sales by tapping into new markets that may have different fluctuations if your business is troubled by seasonal changes or fluctuating demand cycles in the native country. Still, many countries assume that these benefits will be guaranteed immediately following the entrance of their business, and overlook a number of important factors that could have benefited the business. Some common mistakes made when taking a company global are listed below. 

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Expanding a business overseas is a great way to gain access to new customers and can lead to tremendous growth for a company. However, it is important to weigh the potential risks and rewards to determine the viability of expanding a business internationally. In order to be successful in foreign markets, businesses must develop a market strategy, operating model, and product that are specific to the market or markets that are being targeted. The following paragraphs identify four tips that business owners can use to determine if expansion overseas is a good strategy, and if so, which markets to target.

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The latest segment of the How to Sell in the Americas: Trade Wind Conferences took place in Bogotá, Colombia. This segment focused on the numerous export opportunities available in Latin America and how the Trade Winds program can assist US exporters in reaching new markets. The embedded video below specifically addresses the market opportunities in Colombia, Panama, Mexico, Brazil, and Peru. Additionally, the video discusses the benefits that NAFTA, CAFTA-DR, and other free trade agreements can have on doing business abroad.

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For more than three months now, the online retailing giant Amazon has been locked in a feud with the publishing company Hachette, which is part of the French media group Lagardère. At first, the feud seemed to start as a pricing dispute over e-books distributed by Hachette. Soon, the disagreements began to multiply and cover even more issues, leading to drastic courses of action by both companies. Booksellers everywhere are nervously anticipating this battle, for whatever decision the two rivals come to will set an important precedent for the relationship between Amazon and publishers. However, it is unclear when this war will end.

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In an increasingly competitive business world, continuous technological advancements are providing businesses with more opportunities to get ahead of the curve. Specifically, geo-location is starting to become a big asset in helping businesses grow by giving them greater market reach. Successful businesses can only grow if they strategize to meet consumer demands that require services to be fast, reliable and relevant. Geo-location is able to fulfill this criterion because of the wide use of phones, tablets, and computers, but the collection of this sensitive data also pressures businesses to be cautious in their approach.

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In First, Break All the Rules, authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman explore what the world’s greatest managers do differently.  Their conclusions are based on over 80,000 in-depth interviews of managers conducted by the Gallup organization.  The book reveals that the world’s greatest managers differ in age, gender, and race, but seem to have one thing in common – they do not hesitate to deviate from the rules of conventional wisdom. 

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As companies become more global, it is important for management teams and boards to realize the effect that a company’s national culture can have on its performance. In their book, Fish Can’t See Water, Kai Hammerich and Richard D. Lewis argue that often management and boards are blind to their own culture, and may not realize the negative effects that culture can have on their company’s success. The book describes two different models of identifying how culture affects corporations, describes national cultures in seven different countries and how they affect corporations, and then walks through a series of case studies.

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What makes a company great? Journalists, universities, think tanks, and CEO’s themselves have been trying to find the formula for decades. The rise of the multinational corporation has only increased the desire to find what makes a company great. With companies that are so large and have such diversified products, the variables that enter into the equation seem infinite. In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins attempts to identify what allows companies to make the leap from being a good company to being a great company.

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Businesses are becoming increasingly global, causing teams to be spread around the world. This leads to greater success along with some unique challenges. In order to lead these teams, managers must learn to balance different cultures, time zones, computer software, and relationship styles.

When it comes to managing different cultures in a team the best way is to learn and immerse one’s self into the culture, this will allow complete understanding of where others come from. If you learn the country’s cultural tendencies, you will understand why team members are doing certain things. In some cultures for instance, people do not waste time in e-mails with small talk. E-mails are very direct and to the point. If one does not know that is a cultural norm of this person, they may feel uncomfortable in the situation, and take offense. It is a good idea to take note at the beginning of the project, of team members’ communication and working styles that way everyone is familiar and comfortable working with each other.

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One thing companies are always concerned with is productivity. How can managers increase their productivity? How can they increase their employees productivity? Companies along with scientists have spent huge sums of money trying to figure out the key to not only productivity but success—both on an individual and company wide level.

It is no secret that happy employees are more productive and overall better employees. Employees that identify as low well-being are seven times more likely to be absent from work and seven times more likely to be looking for a new job. This leads to an overall lack of productivity from what is known as presenteeism. Presenteeism is when employees physically show up to work but lack productivity because they may be having any multitude of personal problems.

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Businessmen go to Africa with hopes of profitable investment opportunities, but often they forget the level of diversity present among African countries. “You can’t treat Africa as one single market. So choosing where to play and where you will get the best return is the critical question,” said Michael Wood, the co-founder and director of consulting firm Aperio.

Many companies target the continent’s biggest economies, such as Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya; because they think these markets have mature economic structures. However, Wood suggests that companies new to the African market should first enter a smaller country. A small market usually provides investors with a lower risk of failure, less competition, and more approachable customers.

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Although sending emails is an efficient form of communication for some tasks, bosses are prompting employees to make a phone call when appropriate.  Some managers have gone as far to say that emailing instead of calling can hurt business, hinder creativity, and delay projects.  This issue is especially common among the Millennials, a group defined by people born between 1981 and the early 2000s.  A common belief is that this generation is so accustomed to texting, emailing, and communicating via social media that many of its members are inept at communicating on the phone or in person. 

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The Director of the International Business Center at Michigan State University – Tomas Hult – just published the new version of the Total Global Strategy (TGS) book with George Yip. TGS has been the market leader both in multinational corporations’ board rooms and in executive MBA programs for years. From General Motors using the TGS framework to restructure their Asia operations to Michigan State University using it in its world-leading executive training programs in supply chain management to being rated as a top 30 business book previously, Total Global Strategy is the authority on practical and sophisticated global strategy development and implementation. TGS can be bought on Amazon and at all major booksellers.

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Bridging the gap between your business aspirations and your company’s ability to meet those expectations can be a daunting task for any business leader. This is often referred to as the execution gap. A recent survey found that nearly 49% of business leaders perceive this gap in their company, and 64% lacked confidence in their ability to narrow it. Following these 6 simple rules from Mashable.com is essential to closing this execution gap and reaching your goals.

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Recently a study released by Ernst and Young, looks in detail to how leading global companies have dealt with the recession and are looking ahead. The report compiles conversations that over 500 of the firms senior partners had with clients around the world.