Article

Well Traveled

Connecting with Customers in Far-flung Markets

Spencer Sutherland

April 8, 2013

Lifetime, which employs about 2,500 individuals worldwide, operates more than 3 million-square-feet of manufacturing space in Clearfield and also owns its factory in China.

“When we ended up with products that needed to be distributed to Asian countries, we went to China and bought land, built a factory and hired our own employees,” Hendrickson says. Because they are making their own products rather than outsourcing, “there is no incentive by anyone in that factory to cut a corner in order to save a buck for themselves,” Hendrickson explains. “We’re probably on a very short list of companies who have their own factory in China.”

Manufacturing its own products also gives Lifetime strict control over quality measures. “There are different product safety and strength standards across the world,” Hendrickson says, “But our own Lifetime standards exceed many of those imposed by any of the countries in which we operate.”

Nothing illustrates the company’s commitment to quality like its “7,500 slam dunk test.” Lifetimes makes a basketball standard that can be lowered to seven-and-a-half feet. “We know it will be dunked on,” Hendrickson says. To make sure the baskets can handle the load, Lifetime built a machine that simulates 7,500 slam dunks. “If there’s a weakness in a system, our tests will find it. There’s not a country in the world that requires a hoop to withstand 7,500 slam dunks. But we do. But if it won’t pass our cycle test, we won’t ship it.”

Sticking to Your Strengths

If there is one thing that USANA has learned over its 20 years of operation, it’s that business is built on relationships. USANA sells its nutritional and personal care products through the one-on-one interactions of 242,000 independent distributors. As those distributors have moved into different parts of the world, so have USANA products, which are now available in 18 countries.

Each of those countries has it own set of strict regulations as well as cultural protocols. “We have to comply with the unique requirements of each market we operate in,” says Dan Whitney, USANA’s vice president of ethics and market expansion. “But we also need to be sensitive to the local culture in regards to marketing and packaging.”

As a result, USANA products might have different labels, different images or even different smells in different parts of the world. “We’ve found with our cosmetic products that there might be a fragrance that one country doesn’t like as much as others,” Whitney explains, “or a certain culture might prefer a more subtle smell to the original product.”

Though USANA makes adjustments to meet the needs of specific locales, the company’s primary goal is consistency. “For the most part, we’ve stuck to our core products, brand and messaging,” Whitney says. “It’s easy to [assume] that a specific product will sell really well with a specific culture. But what consumers really want is what you’re good at. They don’t want you to experiment to become more like them; they like you because of who you are.”

In sticking with its strengths, USANA has made the business decision to keep its international expansion minimal. “We’ve been in business for 20 years and we’re only in 18 markets, which is rare in our industry,” Whitney says. “Instead of opening up 10 markets a year to get a quick injection of sales, we do things the right way. We give those markets the resources they need to have success.”

This approach has served USANA well. In 2011, the company topped $582 million in net sales worldwide. The company’s employee base has also grown to nearly 1,300, with more than 600 located in Utah. “Combining high-quality products with a strong base of distributors has been the key to our success,” Whitney says. 

 

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