What Is Polycentric Marketing?
Polycentric marketing is a model for international business that aims to build a brand’s appeal in multiple countries. The word polycentric itself means having many centers, and this is a characteristic of polycentric marketing as well. A polycentric marketing campaign doesn’t overlook national or regional audiences close to home, yet it makes equivalent outreach to target audiences overseas
Polycentric marketing regards each target nation’s marketplace as distinct. Consequently, polycentric marketing plans call for a brand’s presence in each nation to act as an independent business. In a fully polycentric strategy, each business center develops its own autonomous product line extensions, positioning and promotions customized to a particular nationality and competitive landscape in its respective market. The rationale is that consumers in one nation have different needs and values than their peers in another nation and brands are most successful when they reflect those cultural distinctions.
Polycentric marketing is one of three dimensions in the EPG model. This model includes ethnocentric, polycentric and geocentric marketing. Ethnocentrism segments the global market by race or ethnicity. Polycentric marketing segments the market by nationality. Geocentric segments are determined by geography.
Successful polycentric marketing campaigns allow for articulation of promotional strategies specific to each nation. It follows that the cultural needs and values of consumers in China differ from those of consumers in India or South Africa. Thus a polycentric strategy allows the marketing directors responsible for each business center to optimize their respective campaigns for the audiences to which they’re marketing.
The independence of each business unit can be an obstacle to unified leadership. This contradicts the goal of polycentric marketing’s push into multiple nations when each business unit begins to function as its own single-nation business. Worst-case scenarios include business units of the same corporation competing for consumers who make purchases in more than one nation or polycentric region. Another potential drawback is the fragmentation of production and supply, which can be less efficient than a unified mass-production supply chain.