Adaptations in International Marketing
Companies that experience enough success to warrant expanding into international markets must take into account several things before deciding to do so. The most important thing to consider is the company's ability to adapt to the differences in international markets. Offering identical products and using the same marketing strategies across all markets is likely going to hurt a company's chance of success.
Adaptation allows a company to individualize its marketing strategies and optimize itself for success in international markets.
International markets will likely have differences in language and culture, which means companies should adapt their brand's message to resonate with the local consumers. A marketing message that works well in one market is not guaranteed to work well in other markets - especially when it is centered around the product or service's provided benefit.
Consumers in international markets may have different pain points - or problems - than ones in domestic markets, so a marketing campaign that focuses on a domestic problem may not resonate with international consumers.
For example, a company like John Deere that sells agricultural machinery should not launch a marketing campaign highlighting its lawnmowers in a dry region where there is little grass.
Part of a company's adaptation may include changes to a brand's imaging and word choice in order to avoid misinterpretations when translated to the international language.
Coca-Cola was a victim of this, as their name was first translated phonetically into a Chinese phrase meaning "bite the wax tadpole." Gerber also made a huge mistake when they marketed their baby food in Ethiopia with babies on the label, not knowing that products there have pictures of the inside ingredients for consumers who cannot read.
The wrong interpretation could turn potential customers off from a company's brand and cost it business.
There will likely be differences in business regulations and laws that must be taken into consideration as companies enter international markets. This is common with product labels, as they generally have specific requirements that vary by country.
For example, tobacco companies can print their standard labels in the United States, but in Canada, graphic health warnings must cover 75% of the front and back of the packaging.
Country-specific regulations may also affect the channels a company can use to advertise its products and services.
To put a company in a better position to succeed internationally, product adjustments may be needed to incorporate the specific taste, needs and cultural practices of the local region.
For example, KFC - which is China's most popular fast food chain - serves local dishes like congee and egg tarts in their Shanghai restaurants. If a company produces electronic equipment, they need to ensure their plugs and power supplies are compatible with local standards, and that they meet local safety requirements.
As part of its adaptation strategy, a company may choose to acquire a local company and leverage its existing brand power in the region. By acquiring a presumably established business in the region, the acquiring company can learn about the local marketplace from people who have firsthand knowledge and experiences. This reduces the learning curve as a company begins to embed its presence into the new market and craft its new marketing strategy.
Acquiring a local business also gives a company access to an existing customer base and they will not have to spend as much effort winning over customer loyalty.