– Susan Hopp, Partner, 45 Degrees/Minneapolis

I recently stopped at Shuang Hur Oriental Market (my go-to store for Vietnamese coffee) on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, and came away with an interesting branding experience.

As I passed the fresh meat counter with pork hooves and other un-named animal parts, I was reminded that I’m not their primary target audience – I like that – but I always feel welcome and I know the younger staff speaks English. I trust the store.

On the way out, my eye caught an entire aisle of instant ramen noodle soups! Wow. I had never even tried one and now here were literally hundreds of options from China, Thailand, South Korea, and more. I thought this could be the place to find an authentic product with the best texture and taste.

Well, I quickly realized this might not be a quick grab and go because I had nothing to base my selection on. This is something that does not usually happen in America. We live in a highly advertised and branded world and since we grow up immersed in this culture, we naturally know how things relate to each other. So it was interesting and surprising and, yes, a bit frustrating to walk into an environment where I see that products are indeed highly branded, based on something each company feels is important, but the brands didn’t mean anything to me. I was not emotionally connected to any of them.Continue Reading Trying Something New