International Presence / Global Marketing involves a variety of different products and opportunities, it’s impossible to identify a single customer profile. A global company must be prepared to develop multiple profiles for each of the different regions it trades in. The United States is the biggest trading partners with Canada, Mexico, China, and the European Union; but international trade by no means ends there.
Depending on the product, customers can be reached nearly anywhere in the world. In order to do so, global companies may rely on local distribution networks; but as they grow in particular markets, they may establish their own networks. Companies attempting to enter new markets tend to start with heavily populated urban centers, before moving out to surrounding regions.
Particular attention needs to be paid to the growing international online market, which vastly increases businesses’ access to customers worldwide — if they can speak the language. J.P. Morgan, in a report for the Department of Commerce, estimated that only 27 percent of online shoppers speak English. Nonetheless, in Korea, 99 percent of those with Internet access shop online; in Germany and Japan, 97 percent. Thus, companies who wish to break into those markets need to not only create a good product and do what works stateside; they also need to immerse themselves in the language and culture of the international market they wish to break into.
When marketing products globally, companies must recognize that a marketing mix that works in the domestic market may not have the same success in another market. Differences in local competition may require a different pricing strategy. Local infrastructure may affect how products are produced and/or shipped. In some cases, it may be more profitable to produce things locally; in others, it may be cheaper to ship them in from across the globe.
Partnerships with local businesses may be an important step in expanding into one market; while in another market, such partnerships might dilute the brand. The savvy global marketer must consider all these aspects of marketing in addition to the task of communicating cross-culturally.
When promoting a product or brand globally, a company must make decisions regarding trade-offs between standard and local messages. A single message is cheaper to produce and maintains the consistency of the brand; but it may not perform well in some regions due to differences in cultural values or expectations.
A global company must carefully research the various markets, and prepare to make adjustments to its product and messaging wherever required. Sometimes this requires changing a name (for example, the Chevy Nova didn’t sell well in Spain, as “no va” in Spanish means “no go”). Sometimes it even involves changing the packaging (in America, Gerber baby food has a cute baby on the label to represent the brand, but in some countries shoppers expect the picture to represent the contents of the jar, and were appalled by the image).
Individual marketers working with global campaigns should strive to learn the language of the market they’re assigned to, both for the purpose of managing business relationships with local companies and in order to verify translation efforts. For example, how do you evaluate the work of someone who has translated your company website? Is it a meaningful translation, or just full of buzz words?
Additionally, marketers should personally visit their target markets, and spend time in them—even moving to them for a time. Here they can develop local contacts, as well as gain a deeper understanding about how business is conducted in the area. In Japan, for example, it is not enough just to speak Japanese; you must also conduct business the Japanese way. Learn what is valued culturally—and what is offensive.
Developing, and respecting, the local business talent is also critical to global marketing. If you have an office in Hong Kong, for example, you want to make full use of talented Hong Kong Chinese professionals in your marketing, advertising, and distribution. Many companies have lost opportunities and alienated allies by having the attitude that as Americans, they automatically knew better than their foreign partners.