How Do I Adapt the Marketing Program to Different Countries?

Today, brands across the world are crossing international boundaries. They are exploring new regions and making tremendous profits. Some brands have become so localized that the majority of the population believes them to be of the country’s origin. One such great example that we can find in India is Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). HUL is known for selling fast-moving consumer goods like soap, shampoo, biscuits, and others. HUL has such a great distribution channel that today it is present in every nook and cranny of India.

What makes the brand so successful in a foreign market is its ability to adapt to the market. When companies are crossing national borders, they have two roads to choose from. They can either stray from their comfort zone and use the same marketing strategies for every region and country or they can adapt themselves according to the local customers. Generalization and customization are the two extremes that a company can consider while entering different markets.

In this article, we will be diving deep into how companies can adapt their marketing strategies to different countries, what factors they should consider while adapting their marketing strategies, what the pros and cons of generalized marketing strategies are, and some examples of renowned brands that have tweaked their marketing strategies to suit the need of the hour.

Pros of standardized marketing initiatives by the brand

  • The brands can achieve economies of scale in production and distribution. Since the brands are not altering their products as per the country, they can use their machines to full capacity, where every cost for them turns out to be a variable expense.

  • Reduced marketing cost − Since one standard ad is going to run throughout, brands can save a lot of money on advertising costs.

  • Power and scope − brands can gain a lot of power over their competitors when they use a generalized marketing initiative, and along with this, the scope of their operations also increases.

  • Consistency in the brand image − Since the brand is conveying the same message and delivers the same products across the globe, consumers will appreciate the brand for its quality and consistency.

Cons of standardized marketing initiatives by the brand

  • Will not be able to connect with the customers − Since the brand will be using foreign ideas, foreign stars, and foreign products for the local customers, there will be no connection between the brand and the customers.

  • Legal and political issues will arise − Since the brand is not going to alter, there is a high chance that the brand will face many legal and political blowouts from the nation. Here, brands have to keep in mind that what might seem acceptable in one region is not for others. For example, in almost all Muslim-dominated countries, women celebrities are not accepted in the media. Ikea as a brand changed its catalog before launching its products in Saudi Arabia.

  • Ignores the trigger points of the customers − brands also have to understand that not all societies work in a similar manner. The United Nations as a country works on an individualistic basis, while India as a country works on the basis of collectivism, which means family.

  • Ignore the brand development, product acceptance, administrative work, and psychology of customers − The brand will remain ignorant of all these crucial factors if they do not standardize itself, and the competition and local brands will eat it up.

Generalization practices

Generalization is the situation in which the brand believes in its supremacy and does not adapt itself to the markets it enters. The product, price, place, and promotional activities of the brand remain the same, and the brand believes that they have been successful in the home market because of these activities and will be in the foreign markets as well.

The factors that a brand should consider while entering different countries

Brands have to understand that different regions of the world have different cultures, religions, habits, practices, standards of acceptable behavior, needs, preferences, laws, ethics, politics, thinking, rituals, and others. Companies have to adapt themselves to be successful in those stressful situations. Some of the pointers from the brand to think about and sync with the country are −

  • Product features

  • Labeling

  • Colors

  • Materials

  • Sales promotion activities

  • Product price

  • Advertising media

  • Brand name

  • Packaging

  • Advertising execution

  • Advertising theme.

Why should brands adopt different marketing strategies?

Here we will be stating some facts and figures to prove to you that brands should adapt themselves as per the country. Companies cannot consider all customers to be the same.

  • Age − The median age of Indian customers is between 26 and 27; Mexico and China have a median age of 35; and Italy and Germany have a median age of 43 to 45.

  • Preferences − The food preferences of the customers are different. Doughnuts do not appeal as a form of breakfast to UK customers, while Kenyans have to be forced into choosing cereal as a breakfast option.

  • Price and brand sensitivity − Price sensitivity and brand preference also play a major role in brand sales. Indian customers will care more about the price, while US customers will care more about the brand. Most developing countries are price-sensitive because it is difficult for them to make ends meet while maintaining a certain lifestyle.

  • Population − The percentage of people online also varies along with the population count in every country, thereby affecting the number of customers for the company.

Along with this, there are certain basic differences in the countries and how they operate. Brands have to take this into consideration as well while deciding on their effective marketing approach for the company.

Different consumer behavior and patterns exist in different parts of the world

  • Individualism versus collectivism − Some societies believe in the growth of the family, while others believe in individual growth. On the same line, the self-worth of an individual is also calculated in terms of their social system's status and acceptance. India, Japan, and Korea are countries high on collectivism, while the US is high on individualism. Marketers in India will portray happy family members all together in most of their ads, while marketers in the US will use individual success to attract customers.

  • High versus low power distance (decision making) − This refers to the distance between the person who actually earns and carries out the purchase decision and the person whose decision is being carried out. Russia as a country is high on power distance, whereas the Nordic countries are low on power distance.

  • Masculine approach versus feminine approach − this basically refers to the way that society operates. Is the culture of power more appreciated and accepted in society than the culture of love and care? Japan as a country is high on masculine power, whereas the Nordic countries are high on feminine power. This will greatly affect the content of an ad for the product.

  • Risk-averse nature versus risk-taking − Some countries tend to be risk-averse, while others tend to be risk-takers. This upbringing will also affect the goods that the customer purchases, the lifestyle that they live, and others. In India, since the customers are risk-averse, we do not see the trend of credit cards much, but in the US, almost every member of the household will have a credit card.

Examples of renowned brands and their marketing tweaks to enter different countries

  • Honda − The Honda automobile brand portrays itself as a brand that supports youth, speed, and energy in Japan, but the same brand portrays itself as a brand for reliability and quality in the US market.

  • Toyota Camry − It is an essential brand for middle-class US customers, while for the Chinese market, the brand is considered to be in high-end cars. The looks of the product also differ in both markets to justify the market stance.

Though brands have a lot of advantages when they are using standardized ways of marketing in terms of cost, resources, and effort, this is not how they can survive in this cutthroat business environment. For brands to be successful across international borders, they have to think globally and act locally.

Updated on: 21-Apr-2023


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