Developing a global marketing strategy is a key concern for multinational companies. The general decision is whether to market with a standardized approach, in which marketing practices are uniform across the globe, or a differentiated approach, in which messages are customized for different markets. Each strategy has pros and cons, and the company, product and marketplace provides direction on which is right for your business.


The nature of your products and services plays a central role in whether standardized marketing makes sense. Products that have virtually universal appeal in all countries and cultures make standardized marketing practical. If customers in each market use your product and understand it in the same way, you can maintain the same central messages that emphasize the distinct benefits of your products relative to competitors.


Whether your products have similar or different uses in various markets, you have to consider cultural context when marketing your products. In some cultures, your brand may be viewed as luxurious or sophisticated, but in other markets, it may be seen as a value-oriented solution. In some cultures, selling your brand using sensual messages works well, but in other cultures, social levels of acceptance may call for a conservative or humble approach.


Standardized marketing for global companies typically offers significant cost benefits. If the same message works universally, you don't have to spend money to develop customized marketing messages. While you would have to adapt the language to the local markets, the conceptual premise of your messages can remain constant. Also, if your brand theme is powerful and has global appeal, a standardized approach helps people around the world share in the value proposition you offer.


Global marketing standardization is not sensible in all cases. If people use your products differently or if your brand message doesn't work everywhere, you need to be flexible. McDonald's, for instance, has been successful selling its western and American cultural appeal in some countries such as Russia, Japan and France. However, the fast food chain has emphasized its relationship with local suppliers and management in some countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, where attitudes toward western and American culture are less welcoming.