Effective communication establishes a strong relationship between a business and new potential customers. It is particularly important in international mass marketing because of the geographic and psychological distances that separate a company from its intermediaries and customers.
The nuances of languages and culture can lead to misunderstandings. It is therefore paramount for an exporter to understand the importance of the communication process and how it relates to the company’s promotional activities in mass markets abroad.
When marketers factor in the various legal, cultural and linguistic factors that could prevent them communicating their message to new markets with the same clarity as their existing customers, their efforts can serve to build a strong brand relationship and win over a whole new group of customers to their products.
Don’t make assumptions about cultural and linguistic considerations
Linguistic and cultural diversity has a direct influence on the form and content of the promotional message.
Some confusion may be overcome by creating advertisements that use pantomime or voice-overs, as in some television commercials. However, this is more than just a matter of translation.
In some cases, underlying symbols have completely different meanings.
For example, we associate lemons with cleanliness and freshness, whereas in the Philippines, lemons connote illness.
Other cultural considerations must be reviewed and taken into account when considering promotional strategies and marketing campaigns.
A simple method of understanding the cultural norms for advertising and promotion is to review magazines, television commercials or other mass marketing tools from the local market, such as billboards or newspaper advertisements.
In some cultures, what is socially acceptable is immediately apparent.
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Transferring a brand image to global markets can pose many challenges because of cultural differences and buyer preferences.
Logos, packaging and advertising that some countries find acceptable—and indeed sometimes appealing—can unwittingly cause offence in other countries. It is not uncommon that an agent or distributor recommends packaging changes.
A foreign-made product can enjoy a certain advantage in many countries but there is rarely much sympathy for poorly thought-out marketing efforts.
Keep control of your trademarks, patents and copyrights
The product logo should be tested and then registered in the target country. This is done through a trademark or patent agent. The logo or trademark will be used on all correspondence, advertising and public relations material.
The agent can provide information about the uses and limitations of the company’s symbol.
Copyrights, patents, trademarks and registrations do not automatically leap across national borders.
What belongs to a company in Sweden may belong to someone else in another country. In some countries, such as Japan, foreign trademarks can be registered even if the product is not in use.
McDonald’s corporation found this out when a Japanese food company registered its golden arches trademark under its own name before McDonald’s had a chance to do so.
Several companies have made decisions not to enter certain markets with their products largely due to the inability to protect their branding or enforce their patents or trademarks.
While many countries, such as China, have taken drastic steps to co-operate with international companies and authorities to counteract this practice, the international marketer must take into account the possibility of piracy depending upon the nature of their product and the target market.
Shaping the promotional message to meet your customers
In conducting international mass marketing or promotional campaigns, companies know that the promotional message in each market may be different.
For example, IBM is promoted as American in Japan and European in Europe. The Japanese still perceive American goods and services as being of high quality, whereas Europeans do not.
Conversely, some companies want to promote the same image in each market: this is the approach taken by BMW and Levi Strauss.
The promotional message may differ depending on the product being promoted and nature of the target foreign market.
What steps are you taking to tailor your marketing strategies to fit in new markets?