Regional Segmentation

The emergence of Pan European communications media is enticing many companies to push the balance toward more standardized promotional efforts. As media coverage across Europe expands, it will become more common markets to be exposed to multiple messages and brands of the same product. To avoid the confusion that results when a market is exposed to multiple brand names and advertising messages, as well as for reasons of efficiency companies will strive for harmony in brand names, advertising and promotions across Europe.

Mars, the candy company, traditionally used several brand names for the same product but has founded it necessary to select a single name to achieve uniformity in its standardized advertising campaigns. As a result a candy bar sold in some parts of Europe under the brand name Raider was changed to Twix the name used in the United States and the United Kingdom.

IBM has gradually created a pan European promotional strategy by moving away from campaigns individually tailored for each European country. Broadcast can print advertisements for its personal computers feature an identical image with text that is translated into local languages. To ensure uniformity in its promotional materials, IBM developed a manual to provide step by step instructions on how to achieve a common theme in the design of al the company’s product and services brochure. An important reason for uniform promotional packaging across country markets is cost savings. In IBM ‘s case one set of European ads versus one set for each country for one of its personal computers saved an estimated $2 million. The company also estimates that a completely unified European advertising strategy will result in stretching its $150 million European budget by an extra 15 to 20 per cent.

Along with changes in behavior patterns, legal restrictions are slowly being eliminated and viable market segment across country markets are emerging. Although Europe will never be a single homogeneous market for every product that does not mean that companies should shun the idea of developing Europe wide promotional programs. A pan European promotional strategy would mean identifying a market segment across all European countries and designing a promotional concept appealing to market segment similarities. IBM and Mars candy are examples of this strategy.

With a common language (Brazil being the one exception) Latin America also lends itself to region wide promotion programs. Eveready Battery has successfully developed a 16 country campaign with on message instead of the patchwork of messages that previously existed; Cable and satellite TV channels also provide region wide media. For example HBO promotes American TV hit ix feet under using a pan Asian campaign.

The Messages Creative Challenges

International communications may fail for a variety of reasons. A message may not get through because of media inadequacy, the messages may be received by the intended audience but not be understood because of different cultural interpretations or the message may reach the intended audience and be understood but have no affect because the marketer did not correctly assess the needs and wants or even the thinking processes, of the target market.

The effectiveness of promotional strategy can be jeopardized by so many factors that a marketer must be certain no controllable influences are overlooked. Those international executives who understand the communications process are better equipped to manage the diversity they face in developing an international promotional program.

In the international communications process, each of seven identifiable steps can ultimately affect the accuracy of the process.

1) An information source: An international marketing executive with a product message to.
2) Encoding: The message from the source converted into effective symbolism for transmission to a receiver.
3) A message channel: the sales force and /or advertising media that convey the encoded message to the intended.
4) Decoding: The interpretation by the receiver of the symbolism transmitted from the information.
5) Feedback: Information about the effectiveness of the message that flows from the receiver (the intended target) back to the information source for evaluation of the effectiveness of the process.
6) Noise: Uncontrollable and unpredictable influences such as competitive activities and confusion that detract from the process and affect any or all of the other six steps.