Free Trade Agreements: Compromise Leading to Passage

Senate leaders reach agreement on Colombia, South Korea, Panama trade deals – 2chambers – The Washington Post.

Looks like compromise is underway to soften ratification of three, vital Free Trade Agreements for the US. A tie-in that will preserve the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program to provide aid and retraining to workers who have lost their jobs due to outsourcing brought about by FTA activity.

Last month, the European Union ratified its FTA with South Korea. Even though the US lost its “first in, best dressed” place in line, once this and other two FTAs (Panama, Colombia) are enacted our nation’s brands and innovation will attract new customers through reduced and eliminated tariffs and quotas.  Industry growth numbers will spike, jobs will be secured, and local and regional tax coffers will fill.

 

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Export Your “Made In USA” Brand

Hanson Marketing is a member of the San Diego & Imperial District Export Council, and today we gathered at the World Trade Center San Diego to meet Mr. Suresh Kumar, Director General of the US & Foreign Commercial Service. His talk brought us up to date on the National Export Initiative and ways in which the federal government is enabling growth, through such programs as committing 3% of US GDP to R & D tax incentives.

His background in consumer marketing shone through, as Mr. Kumar likened the US’ 1400+ commercial service officers to the “Distribution” pillar that must be solidly in place before US exporters begin meaningful promotions.  These officers are truly commercial diplomats, but they think and act like startup entrepreneurs and hold to the 4Ps of marketing and sales management.

Mr. Kumar presented Export Achievement Awards to area companies and to World Trade Center San Diego. The region’s expertise in water technology and maritime systems infrastructure is evident. (Hanson Marketing is proud that client Hawaii Kai Corporation won the same award, due in part to the global channel strategy we formed for the company)

Made In the USA is still the world’s #1 brand cachet, according to Mr. Kumar; and a Designed In California tag signals world-leading innovation.

Learn more: National Export Initiative, US & Foreign Commercial Service. Bellamare, The Maritime Alliance and The Security Network.

Gaming for Fitness: Products Span Retailer Aisles

The latest issue of Vision, the Consumer Electronics Assocation’s excellent trade publication features Gaming for Health.  The video gaming industry is feeding new technology and ergonomic interfaces to keep people of all ages fit, alert, and helping them to recover and rehabilitate.

“Exergaming” extends into all age groups and global selling regions. Foundations and university research sites also advance the use of exergames to help better understand health risks and behaviors.

At VQ ActionCare, we’re expanding our retail channel partnerships for sales of a low-impact, seated exercise and rehabilitation system called the Resistance Chair.  While clearly low-tech in form and function, thousands of Resistance Chair users plug into instructional DVDs that allow people stay at home and keep fit. We’re studying our customer’s useage habits and deciding what the next generation of this product will be. It will likely contain more digital intelligence, and link to online fitness and training aids.

Established sporting goods and big box retailers are re-thinking their product lineups, to serve their loyal, aging shoppers. Will be interesting to see how category buyers cross over from the electronics aisle to the fitness corner, when promoting and displaying exergaming and other smart exercise systems.

Read more.

Building Retail Channels: A Milestone

I’m pleased to share news from VQ ActionCare about our retail expansion strategy. Signing up nationwide, top-brand retailers is such an important milestone to reach, and is worthy of a big shout-out.

Here’s my favorite part: “We are excited to make this strategic move to partner with five top national retailers …,” said Tom Hanson, Director of Sales, VQ ActionCare. “… these retail partners… share in our commitment to expanding solutions for active seniors in innovative ways.”

Read the whole press release here.  Learn more about VQ ActionCare’s senior fitness solutions here.

Activewear Taps California Brand Cachet

Was Levi Strauss the founder of the California Look? For generations, clothiers who design with durable work, sports and leisure in mind have called California home. Ocean waves and mountain trails run through the California lifestyle, and local designers have formed a powerhouse brand cachet, for clothing and cars, too. Did you know that Nissan’s research and design beachhead in La Jolla designed the Altima, Maxima, Xterra, and Frontier, among others?

Some California-based activewear manufacturers are reviewing costs, time-to-market pressures and the need for skilled craftsmanship and deciding to “in-source” operations back to greater southern California. Rising wages and a strong yuan make China a less attractive production center, while infrastructure and quality issues make emerging Asian centers such as Vietnam less reliable in a quick-turn, trend-driven industry. Reuters recently reported on this trend, and noted a 6.5% increase in sector employment in the Los Angeles area alone. A sign that a home-grown industry’s manufacturing sector that long ago went East to lower costs, will head back home.  Despite California’s draconian tax and employment policies, the California Cachet and the state’s proven expertise in efficient and timely manufacturing are key competitive advantages.

At a family wedding last weekend, my old friend — a tireless entrepreneur — shared her plans to design, make and ship a new line of activewear from San Diego.  She knows that her affordable, stylish and durable products’ hang tags reading “Designed and Made in California, USA” will draw the attention of retail partners and savvy shoppers.  She’s channeling the guts and foresight of Levi Strauss.

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