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The Challenges of Marketing in a Global Economy

The Challenges of Marketing in a Global Economy

Global marketing is one of the many challenges that many international companies face in this new world economy. The Oxford University Press defines global marketing as “marketing on a worldwide scale reconciling or taking commercial advantage of global operational differences, similarities and opportunities in order to meet global objectives.”

The death of distance has come about from the rapid increases in technology, and the main driver of this phenomenon undoubtedly is the Internet. Marketers now face the challenge of not only how to effectively reach potential customers around the globe, but also how to effectively position their product/services appropriately in the context of different cultures.

Creating product awareness is a less of a challenge today than it has ever been before. Through mediums such as the internet, television, radio, etc, marketers no longer need worry about the problem of distance when considering how they should promote their product. Rather, marketers now much instead consider appropriate and often different positioning and targeting strategies for the immensely vast variety of cultures that populate this planet. It is no longer just enough to let a population know that your product exists, because if you have the funds, that is the easy part. The challenge now lies within finding the most effective methods of approaching your potential customers, and convincing them to choose your product or service over someone else’s.

To further my point, ask yourself a couple of questions. Assume you are a company, who manufactures an MP3 player. Your biggest competition of course, is the Ipod. Now let’s also assume that you have the appropriate funding to run campaigns on a global scale. But would you choose to run the same campaign in China, as you would in America? Would you approach the Vietnamese the same way as you would the French? Would you position your product in a similar manner when presenting it to Japan, as you would if you were presenting it to Russia? If you are a smart, and effective marketer, then the answer is a resounding no!

Different cultures demand separate campaigns and alternative perspectives. You have to customize your approach and tailor your positioning to the culture for which you are targeting. Why crude humor may sell products in some parts of America, it will certainly not in all other parts of the world.

Before the phenomenon of globalization, marketers still faced this challenge, but to a much lesser degree. More often then not, the way a campaign was run on the east coast was exactly how it was run on the west coast.  Marketers can generally assume that most Americans will decode a message similarly, since most Americans have similar frames of reference. However, when promoting your product in different cultures, you cannot assume that the message you are sending as marketer will be decoded in a similar manner, especially if the message is spread worldwide.

In order to be the most cost effective, it would not necessarily make that much sense develop a new campaign for each culture you are marketing to. Rather, the challenge lies within creating one single campaign, with a clear and engaging message, that can be implemented easily and interpreted as desired. Marketers must constantly consider the types of noise they might encounter when launching a worldwide campaign, specifically when it comes to semantics.

In order to effectively launch a product campaign, and to target and position it effectively, marketers not only want to be consistent with the message they are conveying, but also be consistent with the voice they are using. Again, the challenge here lies within selecting the most appropriate voice and style when working in a global economy. A sarcastic voice and message may do well to stimulate demand in America, but may just as quickly offend and turn off customers from more conservative cultures.

The importance for corporations to now develop a global marketing strategy (GMS) cannot be ignored. Decision makers must decide what message they want to convey, how to appropriately encode it, choose an appropriate medium through which the message will be delivered, and finally set up some sort of criteria as well as gather feedback, so that they may analyze whether or not their message was delivered effectively.

Selecting the appropriate medium must also be taken into careful consideration. Marketers must assess different cultures and decide which method of communication will be the most effective. In America, we take advantage of the fact that most households have a television set. However, This is not the case worldwide, therefore, launching an advertisement through a television broadcast may not be the most effective way to always deliver a message.

Yet another important marketing factor that corporations must now take into consideration, is the use of collaborators. Perhaps sometimes it would be more appropriate to establish a relationship with local entities in order to help effectively promote, distribute, or even build awareness of a certain product or service. Neglecting to realize the benefits of having a collaborator who is vastly familiar with the needs, wants, and beliefs of a certain culture is a mistake that a company cannot afford to make in our current global economy.

Times have drastically changed over the past two decades, especially for business owners and savvy marketers. Keeping up with the changes, and staying ahead of the curb is what ensures survival in this global economy. Remember, that when it comes to marketing, always analyze the potentials customers wants, needs, and beliefs first, especially when the potential customers are from different sectors of the globe. Only then, can you make appropriate decisions as to how you should position your product.


Pat Flynn
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