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Май 2012

Marketing abroad: understanding the differences in each market

If you're selling products that are functionally the same the world over and are essentially marketed as such (eg consumer goods like a phone, a TV or a toaster) then you're in luck. In our experience, it's the areas of Services marketing and B2B marketing when things become more complex. In Services, even basic understanding of the category can differ widely from country to country.

When we were first involved in marketing car servicing for one of the world's leading automotive brands we were shocked to realise that the custom of having your expensive car serviced by a main dealer in the first years of its life just didn't exist in much of MENA. Customers drove their cars until they malfunctioned, then arrived at the dealer for an argument and left with a warranty claim.

Marketing abroad

In this case, the idea that we could create global success by just giving the Western product and marcoms approach to the local market was seriously flawed, because the use of the entire category was so different. Instead of our Western mode of simple 'service reminder' marketing to the customer database, we created a campaign that explained the category to customers; ie the actual need and reasoning behind having their car professionally serviced.

The lessons we learned?

  • Don't assume that even the most elementary category 'truths' are at play in every market in the same way - they may not be
  • Listen to your local teams. Sometimes there's a good reason when they say; 'That won't work here' (but ask for proof!)
  • Make your comms material flexible. If the category is different and the customers behave differently, then it's unlikely that your tried & trusted marcoms material will work without some tweaks & changes. If you're smart, build that in at the outset rather than creating entirely different campaigns for each country
  • Don't underestimate the role of intermediaries. If you sell through resellers, wholesalers, dealers or agents, you may find that they also share the same category beliefs & behaviours as the end customer. Failing to educate them in what you're doing is a recipe for trouble.

Browse our portfolio to see more of our global marketing work.

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