It should be apparent by now that companies and organizations planning to compete effectively in world markets need a clear and well-focused international marketing plan that is based on a thorough understanding of the markets in which the company is introducing its products. The challenge, then, of international marketing is to ensure that any international strategy has the discipline of thorough research, and an understanding and accurate evaluation of what is required to achieve the competitive advantage. As such, the decision sequence in international marketing (see Figure 6.1) is much larger than that of domestic markets. As noted in the next "Integrated marketing", it is also more complicated.
Going global takes coordination
Importing technology and the evolution of a global economy has made global marketing a reality for many American companies. Larger corporations are not alone in their pursuit of business abroad: the US Department of Commerce reports that 60 per cent of American firms exporting products today have fewer than 100 employees. American businesses have plenty of reasons to market their products in other countries. According to consulting firm Deloitte and Touche, about 95 per cent of the world's population and two-thirds of its total purchasing power are currently located outside the US.
Moreover, the decision to distribute products in other countries not only opens new markets, but can also greatly expand a company's business. For example, if a US bicycle manufacturer focuses only on the US market, it loses the opportunity to increase revenues in countries where bicycles are a primary mode of transportation.
Global marketing can also breathe life into a foundering product, and may even extend its lifespan. Additionally, a foreign product often can command a higher price simply because consumers around the world expect foreign items to cost more.
However, implementing a global strategy requires a great deal of coordination. For example, many companies that have successfully built a strong brand in the US have found that their domestic identity has little, if any, impact in markets where they are relatively unknown. An advertising campaign is one way to deal with this problem. Attaching your corporate identity to a known, respected entity in your target market is another. When FedEx, for example, wanted to increase its name recognition in Europe, the company teamed with clothing manufacturer Benetton, an established name there. FedEx sponsors one of Benetton's formula racing cars in Europe.
Karen Rogers, manager of key customer marketing at FedEx, added that sponsoring events domestically or internationally also gives a company the opportunity to meet with perspective customers in a social setting and affords a series of spin-offs, such as promotions and product giveaways.
In distributing products globally, many American corporations team with large multinational companies that do not offer competitive products but have the resources and expertise to distribute and market those goods. This can be a cost-effective alternative to setting up operations outside the US.
Many small and mid-sized companies that are uncertain whether to open operations in another country investigate the possibility of using an export management company. These companies typically provide services that range from research to negotiating contracts with overseas distributors. 1