When company is marketing products internationally a thorough understanding of cultural practices is useful in determining whether a single strategy can be effective in different national environments or whether several strategies must be adopted, with each geared to the distinctive cultural setting. Global marketing with a single approach has its champions. Some companies have been successful with a single marketing strategy or have at least reduced some of the duplication that existed in their efforts. For example:
Playtex developed a global advertising approach to sell its new Wow bra in twelve countries – a departure format the forty three different versions of ads it had running throughout the world a few years ago. But there were difficulties in accomplishing the task. The company came up with appropriate names for the product in each language (such as Traumbugel in German and Alas in Spanish) Dozens of models were screened before final selections of a blonde and two brunettes (said to have universal appeal). One hundred fifty popular style bras were used to film the commercials (because for example, the French like lacy bras while Americans prefer plain, opaque styles). TV standards at the time in the United States and South Africa didn’t allow women to be shown modeling bras, and so models held the bra on hanger; but in other countries models wore the bras. In all ads, though, a single wow feature having universal appeal as stressed: under wire support and shape achieved without the uncomfortable wires, because of a new plastic. A monumental editing job was necessary to produce the commercials to each country’s requirements. Nevertheless, the campaign allowed Playtex to present one unified message and save money at the same time.
Many other companies, however, consider that trying to sell products around the world with only one marketing strategy is a dangerous approach for naïve marketers. For example, potential global marketers must consider such issues as the following:
1) has the market developed in the same way from country to country? Kellogg’s Pop Tarts ailed in Britain because toasters weren’t likely owned. Similarly, there was little demand in Europe for fabric softener sheets used in dryers, because most people still have clotheslines.
2) Are consumer targets similar in different countries? Canon’s American advertising of 35 cameras has to appeal to people fearful of complex technological products, whereas if Japanese advertising relates to consumers who tend to seek sophisticated high tech products.
3) Do consumers have the same wants and needs in different countries? In America, General Foods successfully positioned Tang a substitute for orange juice at breakfast. But in France people consume little orange juice and virtually none at breakfast hence tang was positioned as refreshment for any time of day.
Companies attempt to deal with the wide variations by identifying any universals that may be involved in the buying process and then incorporating these factors into the segmentation and marketing programs wherever the company operates. For example:
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co has developed decision based segmentation system that can be applied anywhere in the world. Finding that consumers make three key decisions hen buying tires – outlet, brand and price – Good year learned that the sequence of pairing these dimensions was even more critical. Good year initially six consumer profiles, but combined them into four groups for global marketing purposes; quality buyers, value buyers, price buyers and commodity buyers. Although segment sizes vary from country to country the elements in each segment’s profile remain largely the same. The extent to which these elements change determines how much Goodyear must customize it marketing programs.