Framework of International Marketing

International Marketing, even though it has certain distinct characteristics, is essentially similar to domestic marketing in terms of certain technical attributes. Marketing can be conceived as an integral part of two processes, viz., technical and social. So far as the technical process is concerned, domestic and international marketing are identical. The technical process includes non-human factors such as product, price, cost, brand, etc., The basic principles regarding these variables are of universal applicability. But the social aspect of marketing is unique in any given stratum, because it involves human elements, namely, the behavior pattern of consumers and the given characteristics of a society, such as customs , attitudes values etc. It is obvious that marketing, to the extent it is visualized as a social process, will be different from domestic marketing.

Kotler defines marketing as “human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through exchange process”. To be more explicit, “Marketing means working with markets, which, in turn, means attempting to actualize potential exchanges for the purpose of satisfying human needs and wants.

In this definition, there are essentially two sets of variables, namely markets and human needs and wants and a process or a set of techniques related to the conversion of potential exchanges into realized exchanges. It is clear that the techniques involved will be more or less identical in both domestic and international marketing. But the variables will be totally different in the case of international marketing.

International marketing can, therefore, be defined as “marketing carried on across national boundaries”. International marketing is “the performance of business activities that direct the flow of goods and services to consumers or users in more than one nation. It is different from domestic marketing inasmuch as the exchange takes place beyond the frontiers, thereby different markets and consumers who might have different needs, wants and behavioral attributes.

Cultural dimensions of International Marketing:

Exporting means operating in a cross cultural environment. This makes the task of marketing more complex because the marketer must appreciate how different is the foreign culture from his own and how this difference has to be reflected in shaping his behavior pattern as well as his export marketing strategy.

Culture though a very commonly used term is not however easy to define. An accepted definition is by Edward Taylor: “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by individuals (as members) of society”.

There are three major characteristics of culture:

(a) It is inborn and learned and passed on to next generation;
(b) It is all pervasive and inter-related; and
(c) It is shared by all the members of the group;

Quite often, a culture is synonymous with the political boundary of a nation. e.g., Chinese culture, Japanese culture, Indian culture or British culture.

But even national cultures are not totally homogenous. Each culture may have different sub-cultures. For example: groups based on religion. Within the same country people having different religions may display different behavioral patterns. Racial groups such as blacks and Hispanics have different attitudes and preferences compared to white Anglo-Saxons in USA.

Similarly, since human needs and wants will have different attributes in foreign markets, perception of these needs will require an overall appreciation of the environment, and the social and individual value systems.

The existence of more than one market necessarily complicates the marketing process. Since the countries are sovereign and independent, the respective governments enact legislators for the control of foreign trade. International marketing will have to take care of such barriers to free trade which may be both invisibles. Even when there is complete free trade; logistics may create problems totally different from experienced in domestic operations. Foreign exchange regulations, which do not affect domestic sales, have considerable impact on financing of overseas sales and operations.