Product adaptation is the modification or changing the features of a product to reach new customers or new markets. It may also include manufacturing a new product with basis of customizations of a product already in existence. Traditionally, product adaptation has been taken to mean modifying in-house products but it also involves taking points from a competitor’s product.
Product adaptation is vital for companies that export their goods to foreign nations as it enables them to meet the foreign laws and regulations. A prime example is an American citizen travelling to the UK and finding an American car that has the steering wheel on the wrong side. Product adaptation is also a vital player for companies which would like to introduce a new product in the market but lack the required resources and funds.
Product standardisation (also called globalisation) involves making one global product in the belief the same product can be sold across markets without significant modification. This concept has become more meaningful because of the growing trend by multinational corporations to outsource components in order to gain economies of scale.
By having standardized components, economies of scale are achieved by the firm while products are adapted to offer a wide range of models in accordance to the needs of various country segments. The major constraints on product standardization include the consumer preferences and the governmental and trade restrictions.
Adaptation vs. Standardization
You can’t mention adaptation without mentioning standardization; they are two sides of the same coin. They both represent a way of selling products overseas. As pointed out, adaptation involves modifying a product so as to meet the local requirements and customs. An example is McDonald’s vegetarian burgers in India. Adaptions also demand the use of different marketing and selling strategies in the foreign market.
With standardization, however, the products are neither modified nor are the marketing approach changed. A company assumes “one size fits all” strategy and tries to infiltrate foreign markets. Standardization is very cheap and efficient although it doesn’t have as good a chance of penetrating the new market as adaptation does. It is vital to note that a certain degree of adaptation is inescapable due to local regulations.
Establishing Product Adaptation
In order to drive a successful product adaptation, there are steps to be followed. The first and obvious one is for companies to research the new market and determine how different it is from the current market. This involves learning the needs, attitudes, cultural believes, and desires of the consumers in the new market. It is also of great need that a company determines the marketing strategies that would work on the new crowd as strategies don’t work the same for all markets.
A company is then faced with the task of determining the required type of product modification. There are a few that are available for such companies, and they include:
- Tangible adaptation – this involves changing a product’s physical aspects such as size and packaging
- Intangible adaptation – here, a company will modify intangible elements such as positioning and brand name
- Promotional adaptation – this involves changing methods and types of advertising as well as the media of choice.
- Price adaptation – a company adopting this type of adaptation has to change size or quantity of their product so as to account for the changed This is because a new market may not be willing or able to spend as much money on a certain product as others.