There is a restaurant in the Washington DC area called Cassatts which is the only location in all of DC where you can get a flat white. For most people that might not mean much, but for anyone who has lived in Australia or New Zealand, the thought of starting a morning without your flat white (an espresso based coffee drink similar to a latte) is unimaginable. One of my common complaints about the DC area is that I have yet to find a coffee shop that serves a decent cup of coffee … but Cassatts stands out for their signature coffee and uniquely Kiwi feel. Why does Cassatts provide such a compelling experience? Is it because the coffee just tastes better? Or is it because they have brought something that is extremely common from another region into a place where they can stand alone?
Imagine the street vendors selling golgappas (also called pani puris) on Chowpatty beach in Mumbai relocated to the streets of San Francisco to offer the same street food to unsuspecting residents. Or an authentic silver shop from the Taxco region of Mexico located in Philadelphia. This is about more than importing products from one place to another and reselling them. Anyone can do that. Thinking outside the region is more about geographic displacement: bringing a business that is relatively common in one geography into a new location where it offers something unique and different. Uniqueness is key in creating a story consumers will share with others, particularly when you think about the challenge globally. Travellers go to far-away places to seek authentic experiences, and often do so because of the reputation of a certain place when it comes to food or products to buy. If you can capture that experience and bring it to an unexpected place, you can have your own blue ocean. That’s the power of thinking outside the region.