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Large American Businesses Which Failed To Make It Big Overseas 

The world is expanding rapidly, and American businesses are making attempts to get a slice of the pie if not the entire loaf. Large American businesses have ventured overseas. They have the illusion that their popularity in America has created a global audience for them, and that other countries are eagerly waiting for their arrival. While some businesses have managed to carve a niche for themselves, others have failed miserably. 

Were these businesses just fit for American audiences? Did they adopt the wrong approach when they ventured overseas? Were they not popular enough to compete in the global markets? A wide range of reasons can be attributed to the failure of some of these businesses.  

Here are some large American businesses that failed to make it big overseas. 


Best Buy 

Best Buy is an American big-box store chain that has a huge following in American electronics and entertainment sectors. However, it has failed to make any headway in foreign markets. In 2011, a business insider reported that Best Buy’s success in the European Market was bungled by poor marketing strategies. They failed to understand that Europeans prefer buying in smaller shops compared to large outlets.

Best Buy also had to curtail its operations in Turkey and China. The company’s below-par performance in China was due to failure to differentiate its product lines from local retailers. It also failed to adopt to the shopping preferences of the locals which, for example, related to small or more conveniently located retailers.



This freestanding Barbie store was built by Mattel in Shanghai. Instead of turning out to be a dream house, it was more of a disappointment in a market that the company seemed to have approached aggressively.

BusinessWeek has described the store as  one that was meant to appeal to young girls and women by having as many as 900 display cases, a cocktail bar, a spa and various other attractions.

The commitment made by Mattel was significant in a market where Barbie is not as familiar as in the US. Also, In China, it dis not have an audience base which can guarantee a return on investment. The six story Barbie store which had a total built-up area of 36,000 ft.² remained in operation for just two years before Mattel decided to end operations.


It is difficult for an American to believe that McDonald’s could fail in any part of the world since it is a staple fast food establishment. McDonald’s invested plenty of effort and opened 11 stores in Jamaica. However, the timing was wrong as Jamaica was experiencing  an economic slowdown. Therefore, they had to charge high prices for the running of a McDonald franchise. McDonald’s had to close its operations in Barbados within a year due to lack of sales.

Things did not improve for McDonald’s in Trinidad and Tobago as they had to pull out in 2003 due to low sales. However, McDonald’s has remained determined despite the failures.  In 2011, a major franchiser of McDonald’s in Latin America and the Caribbean announced that the chain would be making another foray into the region.



Walmart is to America what the staple diet is to the rest of the world. The firm has attempted forays into a number of foreign markets without being able to replicate its local success. There have been complains that the corporation is not making any attempts to fine-tune its shopping experience to the local culture.

Walmart has had negative experiences in Germany, Japan, Korea. It was also unable to penetrate the emerging markets such as India and China. As things stand presently, it will be a long time before Walmart can expand its reach beyond America.



This is another fast-food chain from America. Wendy’s found it difficult to convince consumers about their quality in Japan, where it had 71 locations. It also had a single outlet in the Middle East, but it closed down. While there are no disputes about the quality of the food sold by Wendy’s, the marketing strategy of the chain certainly needs to be revamped if they intend to make any headway in the overseas markets.

These businesses are hugely successful in the United States. However,  for some reason, they are unsuccessful in some foreign markets. Things may definitely change during the future but a certain degree of adaptability and understanding of the local culture is necessary. 

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