October 20, 2012

MB0053 [International Business Management] Set1 Q5

Q.5 Discuss the international marketing strategies. How is it different from domestic marketing strategies? 

Answer:

International marketing refers to marketing of goods and products by companies overseas or across national borderlines. The techniques used while dealing overseas is an extension of the techniques used in the home country by the company. 

Selling usually centres on the needs of the seller whereas marketing focuses on the needs of the customer (buyer). The aim of business is to attract and retain a customer, which can be done through price competition and product differentiation.

International marketing can be defined as marketing of goods and services outside the firms home country. International marketing has the following two forms of marketing:
Multinational marketing.
Global marketing.

Multinational marketing is very complex as a firm engages in marketing operations in many countries. In multinational marketing, a firm visualises different countries as one market and build their brand or service according to the business environment of the foreign countries. A regiocentric approach is taken to plan a product and consolidate the manufacturing processes. Therefore, international marketing is beneficial in preparing a firm to deal globally as it establishes a business stronghold on various foreign markets. Global marketing indicates the integrated and coordinated marketing activities across many different markets.

Taking into account the various conditions on which markets vary and depend, appropriate marketing strategies should be devised and adopted. Like, some countries prevent foreign firms from entering into its market space through protective legislation. Protectionism on the long run results in inefficiency of local firms as it is inept towards competition from foreign firms and other technological advancements. It also increases the living costs and protects inefficient domestic firms.

To counter this scenario firms must learn how to enter foreign markets and increase their global competitiveness. Firms that plan to do business in foreign land find the marketplace different from the domestic one. Market sizes, customer preferences, and marketing practices all vary; therefore the firms planning to venture abroad must analyse all segments of the market in which they expect to compete.

The decision of a firm to compete internationally is strategic; it will have an effect on the firm, including its management and operations locally. The decision of a firm to compete in foreign markets has many reasons. Some firms go abroad as the result of potential opportunities to exploit the market and to grow globally. And for some it is a policy driven decision to globalise and to take advantage by pressurising competitors. 

But, the decision to compete abroad is always a strategic down to business decision rather than simply a reaction. Strategic reasons for global expansion are:
• Diversifying markets that provide opportunistic global market development.
• Following customers abroad (customer satisfaction).
• Exploiting different economic growth rates. 
• Pursuing a global logic or imperative to harvest new markets and profits.
• Pursuing geographic diversification.
• Globalising for defensive reasons.
• Exploiting product life cycle differences (technology).
• Pursuing potential abroad.

Likewise, there can be other reasons like competition at home, tax structures, comparative advantage, economic trends, demographic conditions, and the stage in the product life cycle. In order to succeed, a firm should carefully look at their geographic expansion and global marketing strategy. To a certain extent, a firm makes a decision about its extent of globalisation by taking a stance that may span from entirely domestic to a global reach where the company devotes its entire marketing strategy to global competition. In the process of developing an international marketing strategy, the firm may decide to do business in its home-country (domestic operations) only or host-country (foreign country) only.

1. Segmentation
Firms that serve global markets can be segregated into several clusters based on their similarities. Each such cluster is termed as a segment. Segmentation helps the firms to serve the markets in an improved way. Markets can be segmented into nine categories, but the most common method of segmentation is on the basis of individual characteristics, which include the behavioural, psychographic, and demographic segmentations. The basis of behavioural segmentation is the general behavioural aspects of the customers. Demographic segmentation considers the factors like age, culture, income, education and gender. Psychographic segmentation takes into account: beliefs, values, attitudes, personalities, opinions, lifestyles and so on. 

2. Market positioning
The next step in the marketing process is, the firms should position their product in the global market. Product positioning is the process of creating a favourable image of the product against the competitor’s products. In global markets product positioning is categorised as high-tech or high–touch positioning. 

One challenge that firms face is to make a trade-off between adjusting their products to the specific demands of a country and gaining advantage of standardisation such as the maintenance of a consistent global brand image and cost savings. This is task is not easy.

3. International product policy
Some thinkers of the industry tend to draw a distinction between conventional products and services, stressing on service characteristics such as heterogeneity (variation in standards among providers, frequently even among different locations of the same firm), inseparability from consumption, intangibility, and perishability. Typically, products are composed of some service component like, documentation, a warranty, and distribution. These service components are an integral part of the product and its positioning.

Firms have a choice in marketing their products across markets. Many a times, firms opt for a strategy which involves customisation, through which the firm introduces a unique product in each country, believing that tastes differ so much between countries that it is necessary to create a new product for each market. On the other hand, standardisation proposes the marketing of one global product, with the belief that the same product can be sold in different countries without significant changes. For example, Intel microprocessors are the same irrespective of the country in which they are sold.

Finally, in most cases firms will go for some kind of adaptation. Here, when moving a product between markets minor modifications are made to the product. For example, in U.S. fuel is relatively cheap, therefore cars have larger engines than the cars in Asia and Europe; and then again, much of the design is identical or similar.

4. International pricing decisions
Pricing is the process of ascertaining the value for the product or service that will be offered for sale. 

In international markets, making pricing decisions is entangled in difficulties as it involves trade barriers, multiple currencies, additional cost considerations, and longer distribution channels. Before establishing the prices, the firm must know its target market well because when the firm is clear about the market it is serving, then it can determine the price appropriately. The pricing policy must be consistent with the firms overall objectives. Some common pricing objectives are: profit, return on investment, survival, market share, status quo, and product quality. 

The strategies for international pricing can be classified into the following three types: 
• Market penetration: It is the technique of selling a new product at a lower price than the current market price.
• Market holding: It is a strategy to maintain buy orders in order to maintain stability in a downward trend.
• Market skimming: It is a pricing strategy where price of the goods are set high initially to skim the revenue from the market layer by layer. 

The factors that influence pricing decisions are inflation, devaluation and revaluation, nature of product or industry and competitive behaviour, market demand, and transfer pricing.

The approach taken by company towards pricing when operating in international markets are ethnocentric, polycentric, and geocentric. 

Price can be defined by the following equation:

The pricing decision enables us to change the price in many ways, some of them are: 
• “Sticker” price changes –. • Change quantity –• Change quality –• Change terms –

Transfer pricing
Transfer pricing is the process of setting a price that will be charged by a subsidiary (unit) of a multi-unit firm to another unit for goods and services, which are sold between such related units.

Transfer pricing is determined in three ways: market based pricing, transfer at cost and cost-plus pricing. The Arm’s Length pricing rule is used to establish the price to be charged to the subsidiary. 

Many managers consider transfer pricing as non-market based. The reason for transfer pricing may be internal or external. Internal transfer pricing include motivating managers and monitoring performance. External factors include taxes, tariffs, and other charges. 

Transfer Pricing Manipulation (TPM) is used to overcome these reasons. Governments usually discourage TPM since it is against transfer pricing, where transfer pricing is the act of pricing commodities or services. However, in common terminology, transfer pricing generally refers TPM.

5. International advertising
International advertising is usually associated with using the same brand name all over the world. However, a firm can use different brand names for historic reasons. The acquisition of local firms by global players has resulted in a number of local brands. A firm may find it unfavourable to change those names as these local brands have their own distinctive market. 

The purpose of international advertising is to reach and communicate to target audiences in more than one country. The target audience differ from country to country in terms of the response towards humour or emotional appeals, perception or interpretation of symbols and stimuli and level of literacy. Sometimes, globalised firms use the same advertising agencies and centralise the advertising decisions and budgets. In other cases, local subsidiaries handle their budget, resulting in greater use of local advertising agencies.

International advertising can be thought of as a communication process that transpires in multiple cultures that vary in terms of communication styles, values, and consumption patterns. International advertising is a business activity and not just a communication process. It involves advertisers and advertising agencies that create ads and buy media in different countries. This industry is growing worldwide. International advertising is also reckoned as a major force that mirrors both social values, and propagates certain values worldwide.

6. International promotion and distribution 
Distribution of goods from manufacturer to the end user is an important aspect of business. Companies have their own ways of distribution. Some companies directly perform the distribution service by contacting others whereas a few companies take help from other companies who perform the distribution services. The distribution services include:
• The purchase of goods.
• The assembly of an attractive assortment of goods.
• Holding stocks.
• Promoting sale of goods to the customer.
• The physical movement of goods.

In international marketing, companies usually take the advantage of other countries for the distribution of their products. The selection of distribution channel is helpful to gain the competitive advantage. The distribution channel is also dependent on the way to manage and control the channel. Selecting the distribution channel is very important for agents and distributors.

Domestic vs. International marketing
Domestic marketing refers to the practice of marketing within a firm’s home country. Whereas International or foreign marketing is the practice of marketing in a foreign country; the marketing is for the domestic operations of the firm in that country.

Domestic marketing finds the "how" and "why" a product succeeds or fails within the firm’s home country and how the marketing activity affects the outcome. Whereas, foreign marketing deals with these questions and tries to find answers according to the foreign market conditions and it provides a micro view of the market at the firm’s level. 

In domestic marketing a firm has insight of the marketing practices, culture, customer preferences, climate and so on of its home country, while it is not totally aware of the policies and the market conditions of the foreign country.

The stages that have led to achieve global marketing are:
• Domestic marketing – Firms manufacture and sell products within the country. Hence, there is no international phenomenon.
• Export marketing – Firms start exporting products to other countries. This is a very basic stage of global marketing. Here, the products are developed based on the company’s domestic market although the goods are exported to foreign countries. 
• International marketing – Now, Firms start to sell products to various countries and the approach is ‘polycentric’, that is, making different products for different countries.
• Multinational marketing – In this stage, the number of countries in which the firm is doing business gets bigger than that in the earlier stage. And hence, the company identifies the regions to which the company can deliver same product instead of producing different goods for different countries. For example, a firm may decide to sell same products in India, Sri lanka and Pakistan, assuming that the people living in this region have similar choice and at the same time offering different product for American countries. This approach is termed ‘regiocentric approach’. 
• Global marketing – Company operating in various countries opts for a common single product in order to achieve cost efficiencies. This is achieved by analysing the requirements and the choice of the customers in those countries. This approach is called ‘Geocentric approach’.

The practice of marketing at the international stage does not designate any country as domestic or foreign. The firm is not considered as the corporate citizen of the world as it has a home base.

The firm must not have a ’single marketing plan’, because there are differences between the target markets (that is domestic or international markets). There should never be a rigid marketing campaign. A firm that is successful internationally first obtains success locally. 

Few approaches that you can consider for an international marketing are: 
• Advertise as a foreign product – By doing so, the product will be considered as genuine and original in some countries. 
• Joint partnership with a local firm – finding a firm that has already established credibility will benefit a lot. The product will be considered as a local product by following this marketing approach.
• Licensing – You can sell the rights of your product to a foreign firm. Here the problem is that the firm may not maintain the quality standard and therefore may hurt the image of the brand. 

Culture is a major factor which influences marketing decisions and practices in a foreign country. For example, in the middle-eastern countries the prior approval of the governing authorities should be taken if a firm plans to advertise a product related to women’s apparel, as showcasing some aspects of women clothing is considered immodest and immoral.

Nature of international marketing
Operating in a foreign market depends on the level of control the firm has on the operations in the foreign country and it also depends on the capital expenditure. Once the decision to invest in the foreign market has been made, the mode of operation has to be established. Listed below are the important modes of operation: 
Exporting (direct or indirect).
Joint ventures.
Direct investment. 

Exporting
Exporting is the process of selling goods in a foreign country keeping in mind the customer base of the foreign country. The goods are manufactured in the home country of the firm. There are two types of exporting methodologies, namely direct exporting and indirect exporting.

Direct exporting is the activity of directly shipping goods to a foreign country or market. For example, a car manufacturer may manufacture cars in home country and directly ship the cars to a foreign country like Ferrari. Indirect exporting is the process of utilising an intermediary firm, who in turn would distribute the product in the foreign market on the instructions of the firm. For example, a car manufacturer may employ a local distributor or a partner while selling cars in a foreign country.

From a firm's perspective, exporting involves the least risk. This is so because no capital expenditure or additional finance has been allocated for the product. Thus, the chance of the existence of sunk costs or general barriers is limited. On the contrary, a firm may have less control when exporting into a foreign market, due to limited control on the supply of the goods within the foreign market.

Joint ventures
A joint venture is an understanding to work together between two or more firms with the aim of gaining a benefit from a given economic activity. The directives of some countries often state that all foreign investment in it should be through joint ventures. The level of risk is comparatively more when compared with exporting as the control of the firm which gets into a joint venture is limited. 

Direct investment
Here, a firm invests capital in a foreign country to construct a manufacturing facility or fixed or non-current asset. The aim of the firm is to manufacture a product within that country.

With direct investment, comes more control of the firm, attached with more risk. The return on investment has to be determined and calculated as with any capital expenditure in addition to recovering any related sunk costs.

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