Jennifer R. Scott │October 4, 2021
Choosing to go global with a U.S.-based product is a task that should not be taken lightly. There is a lot of forethought and meticulous planning involved with entering the global marketplace. Some points for consideration are:
- Will the product sell well in the targeted culture?
- Is your target market familiar with your product or service?
- Do you feel comfortable in that country?
- What is the infrastructure like?
Without knowing the answers to these questions, it is hard to distinguish which type of strategy—local or global—should be used for penetrating the market in a foreign country. Not every country has the same cultural beliefs, consumer wants and needs, social interactions, or business infrastructure. For these reasons, it is unwise to assume that what works in the United States will work in other countries.
The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped how consumers make their purchasing decisions. When talking about the U.S. and the global marketplaces, we must consider the new marketing environment, specifically, how consumers are making important buying decisions and how businesses are responding in return. Currently, consumers are becoming more conscientious when buying, they are embracing brand agnosticism, and they are making online their main purchasing venue. Furthermore, a recent study revealed that 87% of shoppers placed online orders for delivery between March and December 2020, proving how important it is for businesses to be able to maneuver through the digital marketing landscape. While many businesses will not make it through unscathed, some will flourish.
Many successful U.S. businesses have failed when launching a product or service in another country. This can happen for a number of reasons, so it is imperative to study some of these failures. Google, the highly successful American technology company, known as the premier search engine provider in the United States, does not hold the same regard with consumers in China. The company has had issues with the Chinese government over censorship, and it has also never been able to catch up to the Chinese competitor Baidu, which initially catered to consumers by offering easy access to pirated media, rapidly growing their user base. Starbucks, one of the largest coffee houses in the world, failed miserably when first breaking into the Australian market. The company did not consider that Australians see their cafes as a meeting place to talk about business or to catch up with friends; and because a Starbucks shop treats the coffee as the main offering, where you can get your drink and then head out as you start your day, there was an undeniable cultural clash.
The common factor here is that both of these companies failed to look at political and cultural indicators. Somewhere along the journey of penetrating those untapped markets, they did not consider that a local strategy would have been better than a one-size-fits-all global strategy. When marketing a product internationally, especially in a communist country such as China, political and cultural differences can mean the difference between experiencing a massive success or a colossal failure. Even when a country, such as Australia has similar political agendas and cultural customs, that does not mean we should assume everything will be the same as it is on U.S. soil. As we see with both Google and Starbucks, this is a huge error.
The U.S. businesses that are the most successful in the international arena are the ones that are doing everything from adapting their social strategies to translate across multiple languages to adjusting their menus to appeal to the cravings of a diverse group of people. Domino’s has figured out the formula for global success. The company has prioritized menu innovation as a means of increasing international interest and awareness. While half of their menu offerings are standard, they have tweaked the menu to offer seafood and fish in China, as well as offering curry in India. Netflix has also excelled in the foreign market. The company’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said that, while great storytelling transcends borders’…the company has responded to customer preferences for local content: Currently it’s producing original content in 17 different markets. When looking at these two cases, it is clear, both organizations’ local marketing and positioning strategies put them into the international business winner’s circle.
On a final note, we should also consider the possibility that, sometimes, a global strategy can win over consumers. Apple is a prime example. Scott Anthony, a managing partner at the growth strategy consulting firm Innosight, says Apple has a knack for pairing new technology with innovative business models. Technology is evolving all over the world and consumer consumption is growing substantially. Apple has been able to stay at the forefront of this industry by paying attention to what competing businesses and start-ups are doing and by “scaping” undesirable product ideas and moving on to the next. From the release of the first Apple computer in 1976 to the new iPhone 13 being launched later this year, Apple has been able to use its innovative global marketing and positioning strategies to expand the world over.