Marketing approaches


Each country has its own language, history, political, economic, and social system and unique culture. Accordingly, there exist among nations significant differences of attitudes, belief, motivation, perception, etc.

Marketing approaches in these different environments should be different. Ignoring the environment differences, there are many business blunders which foreign companies commit, trying to do things in their own way(the way of their home country). Here are a couple of examples.

One major U.S. firm could have avoided a multi-million dollar mistake in Japan had it not relied on an american frame of reference that assumed all Japanese homes had ovens in which to bake cakes made from the company's mixes. Since the Japanese have few ovens, the attempts to market the product failed.

Braniff Air Lines' advertising campaign designed to promote its leather seats urged customers to "fly on leather" When translated for its Hispanic and Latin American customers, it was telling passengers to "fly naked."

General Motors was troubled by the lack of enthusiasm among Puerto Rican auto dealers for its recently introduced Chevrolet "Nova." It sounded like "no va" which, in Spanish, means "it doesn't go."

However the adoption of products, advertising to every country's culture is more costly to multinational companies as opposed to standardization. And there is another reason. the world became a Global Village. With sophisticated communication and transportation facilities, everyone in the globe can know what is happening on the other side of the globe News of the European Community, the Gulf crisis in the Middle East, Somalian hunger- we know about these almost at the same time about these almost at the same as it is happening in the Middle East, Somalia and Europe. In Korea we can watch "Dallas"on T.V. and "Rambo" in the movie theater. Korean young people drink Coca Cola, wear blue jeans, eat hamburger, pizza, use Kodak film, listen to pop music, and rich people like to drive Mercedes Benz.

There must be cross-cultural similarities, homogeneity of demand in cross-culture. I have observed two industries, pharmaceutical companies and banks. They acted very differently based on their different, situations. Korean patients trust medical services of hospitals more than clinic services. They can buy medicine from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription easier than in Western countries. And the pharmaceutical market is an absolute buyers market, where buyers have more power than seller.

Under these conditions, pharmaceutical companies try to adopt more to Korean culture. The markets and sales promotion are not the same as in their home country. In management also, they adopt a more Korean way there seniority is important in the promotion of staff. There are few women managers in the pharmaceutical companies. The only standardization is the product. Medicines are not closely related to value, lifestyle, custom, taste or fashion. There seems to be no cultural resistance to the product's(medicine)acceptance.

With the foreign banks, it is quite a different story from the pharmaceutical companies. The banks form market segments in the same way as in their home country and they have the same target markets. Products, pricing, and promotion are very standardized among countries. The banks adapt to Koreas culture only due to Korean regulations, restrictions and not for economic reasons. Not only in marketing but also in other management areas; they are using their own ways. their personnel selection/promotions are based on merit. Seniority, sex and friendship are not important factors, while it is crucial in Korean companies. There are many young, women managers in the foreign banks.

Adapt to local cultures or standardize(globalization)? The answer is simple. Choose whichever method will realize more profit. Then which method brings more profit? The answer is not an easy one.

However, I personally believe that it's best for the businesses to adopt local culture, but for its internal management the Western way is more efficient. Seniority may be better for harmony but not good for efficiency. Even in Japan, seniority is begin to lose its importance to overcome the current recession.


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