Promotion Considerations

Promotion represents another area of marketing strategy that must be culturally tempered. Promotion failures have occurred abroad because of lack of understanding of the foreign culture.

Some marketers have committed fatal bloopers in their strategy to export intact their product’s brand name or advertising themes to a foreign market or to attempt direct translation of such words.

Coca-Cola’s first attempt to translate its trademark into Chinese characters resulted in something that sounded like Coca-Cola but meant bite the wax tadpole. It was later changed to happiness in the mouth.

Body by Fisher became Corpse by Fisher in Flemish:

Colgate Palmolive’s Cue toothpaste is a pornographic word in French.

Standard Oil’s Enco brand meant stalled car in Japanese –a good reason for changing to Exxon, which is meaningless in any language.

However, sometimes exporting domestic images help. For example, Levi’s foreign ads have played up the company’s American roots. An Indonesian television commercial shows Levi’s clad teens cruising around Dubuque, lowa, in 1960s convertibles. In Japan James Dean serves as the centerpiece for almost all the brand’s ads. And in most foreign commercials for Levi’s 501 button fly jeans the dialogue generally is in English.

Similarly Coke has a 93 percent share of the Cola beverage market in Japan and has become the most powerful American brand in the country. Coke’s universal message is “Drink Coke and feel good”. In Japan feeling good has become a near obsession. Thus, a recent Coke campaign struck a very responsive chord. Surprisingly Americanized TV commercials showed happy young Japanese enjoying the good life. Coke cans prominently in hand, at barbecues picnics, and Christmas parties.

Entire promotion campaigns may fail due to cultural barriers encountered, unless an adjustment is made.

Distribution Channel Considerations: Failure to understand the foreign culture when making channel decisions often cause problems, as the following case indicates:

The culture’s influence on retailing may be seen in the development of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. Although supermarkets in Britain have substantially increased their share of food sales, the stores are rather small by US standards. Because British housewives lack cars and shop on foot in the neighborhood each store attracts customers from a relatively small area. In addition, the British housewife is not yet completely attuned to all aspects of typical supermarket shopping. She likes the modern convenience of the supermarket, but she still expects the social relationships which are traditional among small a shopkeepers and their customers. In order to maintain this formalized daily shopping and social relationship any have scheduled their purchases so that they may buy fats and oils on Monday, flour and sugar on Tuesday, and so on. Therefore executives of US food manufacturers doing business in the UK must realize that British culture assigns a role to supermarkets that differs from their role in the US. Successful channel management must take that role into account through the marketing strategies used.

Pricing Considerations: Pricing decisions in a foreign market may also be affected by the nature of the culture.

Consumer price perceptions may vary from country to country, affecting the appropriate price charged. For instance in the competitive western European market American products may be perceived as roughly equivalent to domestic products there, and so must be similarly priced. However, in developing countries American products may be perceived as superior and should be priced at a sufficiently high level because consumers may be suspicious about the quality of merchandise when prices appear to be unbelievably cheap.

In markets where price controls exist on important products, government approval is required to increase prices, often through lengthy process. When price increases are announced in advance consumers may rush to stock up in order to beat the price rise, thereby distorting sales patterns.