WE REALLY DIDN'T TRY
After World War II, gratitude and true affection for the United States was at an all-time high throughout
Asia. Conversely, strong resentment bordering
on hatred was directed at Japan.
There was never a greater opportunity for American business to capture
economically a vast and intrinsically rich market for our goods and services.
Today, American-inspired dress designs are worn everywhere in Asia to the sound of American music. Our soft drinks and
fast-food outlets abound. Asians like our culture and want to share in it, but
one is hard-pressed to see an American automobile. Why did Coca Cola pursue
this market and General Motors elect to ignore it? Obviously, it was a
deliberate decision of management.
There are, of course, important exceptions. American farms
established Asian programs without which our trade balance would be
Key industry took the position if Asians wanted to purchase our
products, they must accept the American version which was too frequently not
suitable. Product design to accommodate the market was not initiated, for an
opinion pervaded that what was right for America
was right for Asia.
The Japanese understood products must be tailored for different
markets. With thoroughness and patience with long-term results, they have
captured economically what they lost militarily.
On my first visit to Jakarta,
I saw many strange looking vehicles. They looked like a child's coaster; but,
of course, larger. With seats in front and open carrying space behind, they were
run by a low-powered engine ... funny looking by our standards but handsome by Indonesia's
need for inexpensive transportation. These were manufactured by the Japanese
exclusively for this market, one America didn't try to accommodate.
Frequently expressed by American industry was the U.S. market
alone was sufficient to achieve satisfactory sales and profit. Overlooked was
that Asian products would invade America
with outstanding success, and the U.S. industry's share of the
domestic market would seriously erode without the offset of greater foreign