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The competitive environment

6 May, 2016 - 09:45

Entering an international market is similar to doing so in a domestic market, in that a firm seeks to gain a differential advantage by investing resources in that market. Often local firms will adopt imitation strategies, sometimes successfully. When they are successful, their own nation's economy receives a good boost. When they are not successful, the multinational firm often buys them out.

Japanese marketers have developed an approach to managing product costs that has given them a competitive advantage over US competitors. A typical American company will design a new product, then calculate the cost. If the estimated cost is too high, the product will be taken back to the drawing board. In Japan, a company typically starts with a target cost based on the price that it estimates the market is most willing to accept. Product designers and engineers are then directed to meet the cost target. This approach also encourages managers to worry less about product costs and more about the role it should play in gaining market share. Briefly, at Japanese companies like NEC, Nissan, Sharp, and Toyota, a team charged with bringing a product idea to market estimates the price at which the product is most likely to appeal to the market. From this first important judgment, all else follows. After deducting the required profit margin from the selling price, planners develop estimates of each element that make up the product's cost: engineering, manufacturing sales, and marketing. US firms tend to build products, figure how much it costs to build the product, and then ask whether the product can be sold at a profitable price. US companies tend not to assess what the market will be willing to pay.