In this article, we’ll take a back-to-basics look at international marketing through the 7Ps. Many marketers will recognise the 7Ps from their education. Companies that are increasing their global marketing should focus on each of the 7Ps, but it’s surprising how many organisations focus solely on promotion/positioning within marketing communications and not the overall market orientation of their business.
As a reminder, here are the 7Ps:
Why are the 7Ps so important?
As an international marketer, you’ll already be fully aware that the world is a melting pot of cultures, belief systems and customs. Every country, state and city has its unique flavours, so it’s not effective marketing practice overseas as if it is a homogenous singularity. We’ve written about this very topic this month in our article about the importance of segmentation in international marketing.
Without understanding the people you are hoping to reach, your messages will lack the power to compel them to action. You will want to understand what people want and how they shop – these habits can make or break your proposition in a new market.
Overlook people at your peril. The case of Best Buy’s international expansion into Europe shows clear warning signs. Based on their market research, the North American mega-mart was convinced that its model would work in Europe. However, they hadn’t considered the way Europeans prefer to shop.
On the whole, Europeans prefer to shop in smaller stores than large ‘box’ stores that the likes of Best Buy or Walmart favour. Because of this lack of understanding Best Buy’s expansion didn’t go to plan despite a clear appetite for the product offering from the market.
Due to cultural preferences, not every product or service will be embraced in new markets. However, by adapting your product to local preferences you can meet existing local demand.
For an example of how to adapt your product offering successfully, who else to highlight than the omnipresent global fast-food giant Mcdonald’s.
There are 34,480 golden arches restaurants in as many as 119 countries around the world. In the vast majority of those countries, the restaurant recognised that to be successful it would need to alter its menu.
McDonald’s menus around the world:
- Egypt – McFalafel
- Hong Kong – Shrimp Burger
- India – Veg Maharaja
- Japan – Teriyaki McBurger
- Belgium – Croque McDo
McDonald’s always shows a willingness to adapt their menu offering when entering a new market and their success speaks to the enormous power of altering your product to meet the desires of the market.
As a marketer, you will be confident of your pricing strategy in your current market. You may follow an economy or luxury pricing model. However, when you move into overseas markets your pricing strategy could be dictated by the established competition.
In most cases, if you sell a premium product in your current market, your competition will charge premium prices in overseas markets. Changing your pricing strategy between markets can have the effect of devaluing your brand in your home market.
Imagine a luxury electronic car maker moving into the Chinese market and realising that a competitor has an insurmountable hold on the premium market. Would offering your premium product at an economical price be a viable solution? It might work in the short term to penetrate and grab market share. However, you would need to sell a lot of units to compete at revenue or profit level with the higher-priced brand. Plus, how would you recover and put prices up? Would you be seen as the “value” brand? Long term, this could be undesirable too.
Alternatively, you could develop an economy car model with lower production costs, which would allow you to offset the lower sale price. Take the example of Proctor and Gamble; in Japan they introduced Joy, a more affordable dishwashing liquid brand, which established them as a market leader.
So, when expanding to a new market it’s imperative to carefully consider the validity of your pricing strategy.
When entering a new market, you will need to raise awareness in your target market. You already know what has proved successful in other markets; are the same platforms and mediums as popular in other markets, or do they not even exist?
You will want to do some research to work out which mediums your target audience spends the most time on.
Facebook may be the most popular social media platform in the world, but in various countries, other platforms are in the ascendency.
In the following countries, Facebook is not the most popular social media platform: Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, Poland, South Korea and Vietnam.
Because of this diversity in platforms, it’s important to do your research to find out where your customers spend the most time. It is also worthwhile to find out what type of campaigns prove the most popular on these platforms, so your campaigns aren’t jarring. This will give you the ability to localise your marketing campaigns. Our expert translators can help here.
And this is just the social media example – there are many other promotional channels available, so getting the mix right is essential.
Understanding where to promote your products is just one part of a larger puzzle. Allied to this is finding the answer to where you should sell your products. Online? On your own website or an online marketplace? Offline, in your own shop, or a supermarket or department store?
Some countries are more advanced than others when it comes to the popularity of eCommerce. In addition to this, consumers in certain markets prefer the experience of shopping in person, which allows them to pick up products and examine them up close, whether it is trying on clothes in a clothes shop or trying a perfume before they buy.
In Europe, there are several countries with a stronger preference for shopping in person. Romania (48 per cent), Cyprus (40 per cent), and Bulgaria (39 per cent) all show a higher willingness to shop in person than the likes of the UK and Sweden. Swedish consumers spend the third-highest online annually, while the UK is in second place globally behind the US.
The way you present your product through packaging can vary dramatically around the world. It may be that the market you operate in uses a different alphabet to the one you’re familiar with for instance.
Colour associations vary from country to country. Famously, in Asian cultures, particularly in China, red is associated with luck, celebration and auspiciousness. In most cultures, including the Middle East red is linked with danger, anger and love. Red is also sometimes thought of as the colour of evil.
Therefore, if your main brand colours are red and you are moving into the Middle East market, you may want to consider changing the colour of your packaging.
Defining the messaging you believe your target audience will connect with will shape the positioning of your brand overseas.
When entering a new market you will live or die on your initial positioning. For a start-up or entrant to a new market, you may not get an opportunity to pivot if your initial positioning falls foul of consumer opinion.
Your positioning will be communicated to your audience primarily through your marketing campaigns.
Positioning is shaped by your unique value proposition, but it must have the context to the market in which you are operating. This position is constructed of:
- Relevancy – does your product solve a problem or desire for the consumer?
- Value–specific benefits offered by your product to the consumer
- Differentiation – what unique benefits does your product offer consumers?
The keyword here is “consumer” and getting to grips with the unique challenge of each geography is essential for success.
Is your marketing speaking the right language?
If you feel your international marketing could use a little fine-tuning, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Our experienced project managers will be delighted to discuss your requirements in more detail.
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