The world is a melting pot of people with unique traditions, preferences, cultures, and values. You’ll quickly discover that the same rules don’t apply when expanding your business and offering your products or services abroad. A successful international marketing strategy means adapting to new rules, customs, and approaches. Even then, one region, state, or province can vary wildly from the next. So, how do you implement and execute a global expansion strategy that resonates with each local market you enter while maintaining your brand’s unique and unified voice?
Well, it’s not easy.
Many multinational companies have struggled or failed altogether to bring their offerings into a new foreign market. One of the most common (and costly) mistakes brands make is assuming a different local market works the same way as their home markets. Before we get into the six strategic strengths of successful international marketing, let’s look at some infamous blunders and equally as brilliant successes.
Fail at it or Nail it Like They Did
A global company can strike gold and hit its target market effectively with a robust marketing plan. Or it could miss its mark entirely, misunderstanding or misinterpreting its intended audience. Here are a few famous examples of each scenario.
3 Global Marketing Magicians
There’s no single recipe for success when it comes to an international marketing strategy. These brands all take a different approach but still dominate their respective markets.
Airbnb’s success can be largely attributed to the community it continues to nurture, along with a keen sense of trust among its users. The online platform encourages detailed reviews, comprehensive information sharing, and regular communication. The engagement is spectacular, and harnessing the power of community is a surefire way to establish and maintain a global presence.
The Austrian brand Red Bull is instantly recognizable around the world. It dominates its market by employing a unique events strategy that nurtures brand recognition. By hosting extreme sports events in all four corners of the globe, Red Bull raises brand awareness outside traditional avenues. Its consistent style, design, color, size, and font packaging have also enhanced its global presence.
Dunkin’ Donuts is an international franchise with extensive variations in its menu. By deep-diving into the culinary preferences of a local market, the food brand successfully caters to a variety of unique, often culturally-driven, tastes. You’ll find a frosted chocolate doughnut with vanilla cream and parmesan cheese in Indonesia. Meanwhile, in China, the seaweed and dry pork doughnuts are a hit, and in South Korea, patrons adore the kimchi-stuffed options. Dunkin’ Donuts achieves global success by adopting a more flexible marketing approach that addresses the specific nuances of a particular domestic market. This strategy shows us that it’s possible to strike the right balance between globalizing a brand and adapting its offerings to local orientations.
3 Blundering Brands
No company is immune to marketing mishaps. Here are three leading global brands that bungled their international marketing efforts.
When Kentucky Fried Chicken entered the Chinese market, its famous “Finger-Lickin’-Good” tagline was translated into Mandarin. Only, it read: “We’ll Eat Your Fingers Off.”
Coca Cola found itself in a similar situation when its Mandarin name “Ke-Kou-Ke-La,” translated to “bite the wax tadpole.” You’d think billion-dollar global brands like KFC and Coca Cola would have the resources to avoid a simple mistranslation. Turns out, this crucial global marketing step has been historically overlooked by other international brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Gerber, Ford, Clairol, and Colgate.
In 1997, the clothing and footwear brand recalled thousands of items after a decoration resembling fire looked more like the Arabic word, “Allah.” Nike made a similar blunder again in 2019 when its upside-down Airmax logo also resembled the Arabic word “Allah.” ”
International Marketing Strategy
The AP x 3 Approach
Global or international marketing works hand-in-hand with business expansion. It’s about adjusting your marketing strategies to engage new markets and sell your products or services. Of course, global marketing entails more than just global sales. It encompasses the analysis, planning, and execution of developing, pricing, positioning, and promoting your offerings. So, how do you avoid blunders and market your brand, products, or services internationally like Red Bull, Dunkin’ Donuts, or Airbnb? With an international marketing strategy that includes the following six strategic strengths. We call it the AAAPPP Approach or the AP x 3 Approach.
A first-hand understanding of your target markets is crucial to global marketing success. How do cultural, economic, political, social, and technological factors influence your intended customers’ behaviors? What marketing channels will have the most impact? Identify, analyze, and ascertain where segments of your market come from and how you can leverage local preferences to your advantage.
Top global brands all have a common denominator: They’re consistent, with a unified voice, across all domestic markets. Paradoxically, they’re also adaptable. Flexibility is one of the most valuable qualities an international marketing plan can embody. Even once you identify and understand a foreign market, you’ll likely need to tweak your products or services and the way you present them. While standardized products and approaches may work in some regional markets, they’ll fall flat in others. Best Buy is one classic example. While the franchise identified a demand for its products in Europe, the way it chose to distribute its offerings was its ultimate downfall. European consumers favor smaller shops as opposed to large warehouse-like shops—a preference Best Buy refused to adapt to. Look at what local competitors are doing and how you can improve and scale. What competitive advantages does your product have? Can you adapt your products, services, distribution, or marketing approach to fulfill domestic market needs better? Adopt a flexible stance like Dunkin’ Donuts did to meet the specific demands of your target market, gain traction, and build brand loyalty.
Marketing and selling your products abroad naturally comes with additional advertising, transport, customs duties, and insurance expenses—all of which affect your pricing. Other contributing factors include manufacturing costs, product quality, local competition, and market conditions. Still, a premium product in one local market will typically stay a premium product in another. The same goes for an economically-friendly product. Without consistent pricing across various local markets, you risk gray trade exposure or damaging your brand image. Strike the right balance between required adjustments and consistency. Consider the above aspects and adjust your pricing accordingly to generate profits, match market expectations, and address consumer trends.
Global promotion is about marketing your products effectively while strengthening brand recognition in domestic markets. It’s also about speedy implementation, maximizing local advertising, and developing economies of scale for the creative process. A powerful international marketing or promotional campaign considers customers’ language, knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes. It also takes into account the lifestyle, familial, and cultural influences that affect consumer behavior. These factors help determine the most efficient and effective marketing channels, promotional strategies, and campaign timing.
Your product packaging will undoubtedly vary from one country to the next. To align your brand with local customs and preferences, you may need to tweak primary elements like design, color, and copy. Around the world, different cultures associate certain colors with specific meanings. For example, red symbolizes danger or warning in the Middle East and joy, happiness, and celebration in Asian cultures. Research the cultural and psychological nuances of color within your target market before you start packaging anything. Take into account copy and design to avoid pitfalls like the mistranslations we mentioned earlier. Other aspects worth considering include:
- Labels and instructions in the local language
- Product content and origin information
- Weights and measures in the locally-used units
Positioning is a significant aspect of international marketing. Economic development, local competition, and culturally-ingrained sentiments largely affect how you’ll position your brand or product in a new foreign market. In some cases, a brand that’s mainstream in its home market does better as a niche in foreign markets. The opposite is also true—a niche brand at home can also target a more mainstream segment of a different local market. Global and localized marketing campaigns must reflect your brand’s positioning and your Unique Value Proposition (UVP):
- Value: The specific benefits your product brings to the consumer.
- Relevancy: How your product addresses customers’ pain points, solves a problem, or improves lives.
- Differentiation: Why your targeted customer should choose your product over local competitors’ products.
Go International With Innovation Park
Going global is a game-changer. You may have the same goals but the same rules just don’t apply. International marketing is about so much more than promoting and selling your products or services abroad. You need an in-depth and first-hand understanding of your targeted foreign market to:
- Ascertain where your targeted segments originate and the factors affecting consumer behavior.
- Adapt to a domestic market by changing or improving certain aspects of your product or service.
- Adjust your product pricing to ensure sufficient income generation while remaining consistent and meeting domestic market expectations.
- Promote your products effectively while retaining your unique and unified brand voice.
- Package your products to enhance brand awareness while considering the foreign market’s cultural nuances.
- Position your brand accurately and develop local and international marketing campaigns and messages that relay your UVP.
Are you ready to up the ante and go global? Then you need an international marketing strategy developed by international experts who understand the multifaceted nature of business expansion and immigration, marketing, and all the regulatory requirements. That’s where we come in. Take your company and marketing efforts global.
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