Product Adaptation

A product that is perfectly good for one market may have to be adapted for another. There can be many reasons for this. Physical conditions may be different. Functional requirements may vary from market to market. People in different places may use product differently or for different purpose. The outdoor garden furniture would require different type of finish than furniture used indoors. Again, a manufacturer of men’s suits would have to take into account that arms of Frenchmen tend to be longer in proportion to the rest of their bodies than these of Germans. In some cases cultural factors are very important. For example, Mattel Toys of USA wanted to sell their Barbie Doll in Japan. But the Japanese did not buy the American favorite doll. Later the firm introduced a modified Barbie – slightly oriental eyes and a more girlish figure. With the culturally modified Barbie sales in Japan accounted for 12.7 per cent of the total international sales. Differing conditions in use, for example in the case of automobiles, different road and traffic conditions may require product changes. Finally tastes, levels of skill and technical development may be different and may dictate changes in products.

There are certain items, generally ethnic products, which sell in the foreign markets, precisely because these are foreign. Indian handicrafts or handloom fabrics are examples of such products. There are also specialty items which have become so famous that they are automatically demanded by the foreign consumers, for instance, Darjeeling tea, Scotch Whisky, French perfumes or Danish cheese. For such items, no change in the product itself is required for marketing in overseas, though changes in packaging may often be called for.

Many items however may require some adaptation for making the suitable to the foreign markets. Some obvious examples of product adaptation are differences in voltages (110 or 220) and right hand or left hand drive. Adaptation may pertain to size, functions, materials, design style, color, tastes and standards. Sometimes this could be done easily and at low cost but at times it may cost much. Robinson gas identified thirteen environmental factors which may necessitate design changes. The factors are:

Environment factor/
Design change:

* Level of technical skills/
Product simplification
*Level of labor cost/
Automation or manualization of product
* Level of literacy /
Remarking and simplification of product
*Level of Income/
Quality and price change
*Level of interest rates/
Quality and price change
(Investment in high quality
might not be financially desirable)
*Level of maintenance/
Change of tolerances
* Climatic differences/
Product adaptation
*Isolation (heavy repair
Difficult and expensive)/
Product simplification and
Durability improvement
* Differences in standards/
Recalibration of product and resizing
* Availability of other products/
Greater or lesser product integration
* Availability of materials/
Change in product structure and fuel
* Power availability/
Resizing of product
*Special conditions/
Product redesign or invention

All these factors are relevant in the marketing of durable consumer goods or machinery items. We cite here two Indian examples.

Ashok Leyland says have indigenously developed appropriate technology to suit export markets. Our vehicles may not be as sophisticated as those made in Europe and the USA in terms of driver’s comfort and other facilities but they compare favorably in terms in durability and economy of operations.

Metal Box (India) makes can seamers with a speed of 60 to 120 cans a minute which are more suitable for developing countries with cheaper labor costs than seamers with speeds of 200 cans per minute going up to 1,000. But they also make machines for sophisticated markets. For example, Metal Can’s metal jacket body maker which operates at over 250 units per minute has the output and sophisticated level required by highly developed markets and they export these machines also.

The above are given as examples or Product Adaptation for exports and the current scenario may be different with regards to the products.

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