Unfortunately the process is not as simple as just sending a message via a medium to a receiver and being certain that the intended message sent is the same one perceived by the receiver. In Exhibit the communications process steps are encased in Cultural Context A and Cultural Context B to illustrate the influences complicating the process when the message is encoded in one culture and decoded in another. If not properly considered the different cultural contexts can increase the probability of misunderstanding. Research in the area suggests that effective communication demands the existence of a psychological overlap between the sender and the receiver; otherwise a message failing outside the receiver’s perceptional field may transmit an unintended meaning. It is this area that even the most experienced companies make blunders.
Most promotional misfires or mistakes in international marketing are attributable to one or several of these steps not properly reflecting cultural influences or to a general lack of knowledge about the target market. Referring to Exhibit the information source is a marketer with a product to sell to a specific target market. The product message to be conveyed should reflect the needs and wants of the target market; however, often the actual market needs and the marketer’s perception of them do not coincide. This is especially true when the marketers relies more on the self reference criterion (SRC) than on effective research. It can never be assumed that if it sells in one country it will sell in another. For instance bicycles designed and sold in the United States to consumers fulfilling recreational exercise needs are not sold as effectively for the same reason in a market where the primary use of the bicycle is transportation. Cavity reducing fluoride toothpaste sells well in the United States, where healthy teeth are perceived as important, but has limited appeal in markets such as Great Britain and the French areas of Canada, where the reason for buying toothpaste is breath control. From the onset of the communications process if basic needs are incorrectly defined, communications fail because an incorrect or meaningful message is received even though the remaining steps in the process are executed properly.
The encoding step causes problems even with a proper message. At this step such factors as color, timing values, beliefs, humor, tastes and appropriateness of a spokesperson can cause the international marketer to symbolize the message incorrectly. For example the marketer wants the product to convey coolness so the color green is used; however people in the topics might decode green as dangerous or associate it with diseases. Another example of encoding process misfiring was a perfume presented against a back drop of rain that, for Europeans symbolized a clean cool, refreshing image, but to Africans was a symbol of fertility . The ad prompted many viewers to ask if the perfume was effective against infertility. David Beckham may be wonderful spokesperson in most of the world, but the United States even the greatest soccer get little recognition.
Problems of literacy media availability and types of media create challenges in the communications process at the encoding step. Message channel must be carefully selected if an encoded message is to reach the consumer. Errors such as using the Internet as a medium when only a small percentage of an intended market has access to the Internet or using print media for a channel of communications when the majority of the intended users cannot read or do not read the language in the medium, are examples of ineffective media channel selection in the communication process