Before a company decides to become global, it must consider a multitude of factors unique to the international marketing environment. These factors are social, cultural, political, legal, competitive, economic, and even technological in nature. Ultimately, at the global marketing level, a company trying to speak with one voice is faced with many challenges when creating a worldwide marketing plan. Unless a company holds the same position against its competition in all markets (market leader, low cost, etc.), it is impossible to launch identical marketing plans worldwide. Thus, global companies must be nimble enough to adapt to changing local market trends, tastes, and needs.
For global advertisers, there are four potentially competing business objectives that must be balanced when developing worldwide advertising: building a brand while speaking with one voice, developing economies of scale in the creative process, maximizing local effectiveness of advertisements, and increasing the company’s speed of implementation. Global marketers can use the following approaches when executing global promotional programs: exporting executions, producing local executions, and importing ideas that travel.
Factors in Global Promotion
To successfully implement these approaches, brands must ensure their promotional campaigns take into how consumer behavior is shaped by internal conditions (e.g., demographics, knowledge, attitude, beliefs) and external influences (e.g., culture, ethnicity, family, lifestyle) in local markets.
The importance of language differences is extremely crucial in global marketing, as there are almost 3,000 languages in the world. Language differences have caused many problems for marketers in designing advertising campaigns and product labels. Language becomes even more significant if a country’s population speaks several languages.
Colors also have different meanings in different cultures. For example, in Egypt, the country’s national color of green is considered unacceptable for packaging because religious leaders once wore it. In Japan, black and white are colors of mourning and should not be used on a product’s package. Similarly, purple is unacceptable in Hispanic nations because it is associated with death.
An individual’s values arise from his or her moral or religious beliefs and are learned through experiences. For example, Americans place a very high value on material well-being and are much more likely to purchase status symbols than people in India. In India, the Hindu religion forbids the consumption of beef.
- Business norms
The norms of conducting business also vary from one country to the next. For example, in France, wholesalers do not like to promote products. They are mainly interested in supplying retailers with the products they need.
- Religious beliefs
A person’s religious beliefs can affect shopping patterns and products purchased in addition to his or her values. In the United States and other Christian nations, Christmas time tends to be a major sales period. In other religions, significant religious holidays may or may not serve as popular times for purchasing products.
There are many other factors, including a country’s political or legal environment, monetary circumstances, and technological environment that can impact a brand’s promotional mix. Companies have to be ready to quickly respond and adapt to these challenges as they evolve and fluctuate in the market of each country.
Changing the Global Promotional Mix
When launching global advertising, public relations or sales campaigns, global companies test promotional ideas using marketing research systems that provide results comparable across countries. The ability to identify the elements or moments of an advertisement that contribute to the success of a product launch or expansion is how economies of scale are maximized in marketing communications. Market research measures such as flow of attention, flow of emotion, and branding moments provide insight into what is working in an advertisement in one or many countries. These measures can be particularly helpful for marketers since they are based on visual, not verbal, elements of the promotion.
Considering these measures along with conducting extensive market research is essential to determining the success of promotional tactics in any country or region. Once brands discover what works (and what does not) in their promotional mix, those ideas can be imported by any other market. Likewise, companies can use this intelligence to modify various elements in their promotional mix that are receiving minimal or unfavorable response from global audiences.