It’s easy to see why global brands like Coca-Cola operate internationally after so many years of dominance – but how can you and your clients attack international markets?
Which approach is best?
Over the last 10 years, we’ve worked with some of the biggest international brands and the very best strategic marketing agencies on their international marketing campaigns.
It may sound clichéd but across our 1,000 clients – there really is no magic solution and one size does not fit all! There is however a general framework for attacking global markets and this is how we’ve seen different clients approach the challenge of international marketing.
The Ethnocentric Approach
Often the first step into the international marketing world!
This is where overseas marketing is viewed as an extension of the domestic operation where international marketing utilises policies and procedures identical to those at home. Overseas marketing is administered by an export department or international division but the people involved are primarily home-country nationals.
Often no research is carried out overseas and no major modifications are made to the products or services to enhance overseas sales – which can be counter-intuitive!
The challenge with this approach is that the promotional and distribution strategies are often extremely similar to the home market and there is likely to be a strong reliance on export agents.
From a translation service perspective – we’ve seen that this reliance on export agents and home-sourced sales operations can massively hinder the success of marketing communications. Sometimes this is through the local representative’s grasp of the nuances of the source language i.e. your company’s!
One of our clients in the medical industry relied upon their local sales agents for translation of some pre-sales technical literature but unfortunately the level of technicality was beyond the country sales office – ultimately delaying translations and the product’s launch.
The other consideration for this approach is the increased legal and contractual requirement between all international agents – ensuring all parties know what is expected of them!
The Polycentric Approach
This is where subsidiaries are established in overseas markets and operate independently of the others. Research, products and communications are handled completely separately.
As a translation agency, you can imagine we don’t often deal with many of these types of companies due to the local individual focus, but we often get involved when there is factual, technical, legal and contractual agreements between subsidiaries.
The major challenge with this approach is brand consistency and control.
The Regiocentric/Geocentric Approach
In these cases our clients maintain a truly international view and see that the whole world is a singular marketplace ignoring international boundaries. Instead – the customer or consumer is segmented by other means such as gender or product/service usage. In B2B markets, this could be a vertical market segmentation – such as “retail” or “finance” regardless of the geographic location.
Our clients often develop marketing campaigns across countries, regions or on a worldwide basis but involve local talent to help localise the approach. These campaigns are kept in line with their product or product groups to maintain overall brand consistency.
We’ve seen this approach more in larger and more established organisations but feel that smaller companies can take this approach if they engage with strategic marketing agencies and commercial-minded translation services companies.
The choices are truly endless as to how exactly you attack the different international markets and there seems to be no particular superior approach – everything “depends” on investment and expectations.
One thing is certain though – failure to translate the essence of your brand and purpose of your products with a professional translation agency is a recipe for international failure. We pride ourselves on understanding the meaning behind the words – not just the words themselves.