Yuping Zeng, assistant professor of marketing and management in the SIUE School of Business. A successful domestic cosmetic broker has returned to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s International Trade Center (ITC) for additional expertise to break into global markets with her U.S.-manufactured brand lines.

Sherry Brianza, managing partner and founder of Carlinville-based Brianza Bella LLC, first contacted the ITC at SIUE in 2009 for exporting expertise specific to her company. In 2015, Brianza returned to seek additional assistance from the ITC and Assistant Professor Yuping Zeng’s graduate business students. The goal was to research potential new markets in South America and Mexico for Bella Girl, Brianza’s new upscale line of cosmetics designed for tween girls.

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A total of 18 MBA students followed Zeng’s instruction to perform market research on the viability of manufacturing and selling Bella Girl in Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico.

“Because of this class project and the connections made by ITC Director Silvia Torres Bowman, the customized research that the students performed has been a great tool for my company as we consider countries in which to market our product,” Brianza said. “Dr. Zeng’s graduate students’ research uncovered regulations, political climate, trends and trade policies. The ITC played an essential role in connecting me with a source of quality research on the topics I identified.”

The research revealed active trade agreements between Colombia and the U.S. compared to those in other South American countries, which was critical information, according to Brianza.

“Dr. Zeng’s class also researched the upscale fashion activity taking place in Colombia,” Brianza added.

Zeng said the crux of her graduate-level course included analyzing each of these markets through primary research to learn whether the political and economic climates of each would accommodate a successful introduction of Brianza’s new product line.

“My MGMT 595 class requires teams to complete a consulting project that involves a local company conducting businesses in emerging markets,” said Zeng. “Class teams performed the research at no cost to Brianza Bella, LLC and then presented their findings orally and via written reports with each team functioning as a consulting firm.”

Relevant research included country analysis, market environment, institutional environment and any institutional voids, according to Zeng.

“Identifying countries that have the biggest growth trend in my cosmetic area was extremely valuable,” Brianza said. “The students also researched and presented specific issues that could affect my costs, such as product labeling, legal matters and FDA-type regulations.”  

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Torres Bowman said it has been a privilege to assist Brianza as a long-term ITC client.

“I have been working with Sherry for more than six years,” Torres Bowman said. “She is one of the most energetic women I know. She is passionate about what she does and nothing seems to stop her from reaching her goals, especially when it comes to targeting international markets. She has also been a strong advocate of our center and network. We are extremely appreciative of her efforts in spreading the word of what we do for small businesses.”

Torres Bowman said working in tandem with Zeng’s MBA class, and channeling their time and expertise to support ITC clients like Brianza is a good fit.

“I truly enjoyed working with Dr. Zeng, her enthusiastic students and our client,” Torres Bowman said. “The final presentation was held via videoconference due to Sherry’s busy traveling schedule. It was exciting having us all connected from different locations—Sherry in Florida, Dr. Zeng and her students at SIUE and me in St. Louis. The students did a terrific job.”

The ITC offers area companies the opportunity to participate in international research projects, according to Torres Bowman. ITC clients usually receive a detailed export plan for two or three countries that includes an analysis of the client’s product potential, barriers and entry strategies for the target markets. The selected countries are chosen through a combination of global market research and client input, she said. In addition, through these projects the ITC provides its clients free access to foreign market experts, industry specialists and services through its network of international trade offices.

The International Trade Center at SIUE serves entrepreneurs and small businesses in southern Illinois by providing individualized, export consultation, identification of foreign buyers, agents and/or distributors through trade leads, international market analysis and more. The ITC is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to the region’s entrepreneurial and business community.

   As a key member of the Illinois SBDC Network, the International Trade Center delivers these important services to its clients while supporting the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

  For more information on why your company should consider doing business globally, how to get started in exporting or to participate in an upcoming international research project – contact the ITC at International-Trade-Center@siue.edu, (618) 650-3851 or siue.edu/business/itc.



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