Global Marketing Strategies

Marketing strategy is one of the most interesting, challenging and important elements in international business. Compared with art and science, marketing strategy is more about people finding ways to deliver exceptional value by fulfilling the needs and wants of customers, shareholders, business partners and society. It is inherently driven by people and is always changeable which explains why making marketing strategy is difficult and significant. Moreover, a perfect marketing strategy that is executed without any flaws can still fail. Additionally, sometimes businesses get success despite having a general strategy or execution because marketing is complicated and flexible and the nature or characteristics of marketing can make planning strategy very difficult and frustrating. Marketing strategy has been a great challenge for each enterprise. To some degree, the difficulty of making marketing strategy highlights the extraordinary success of those famous business, for instance, Coca-cola, Starbucks, Best buy, Apple, etc.

A global marketing strategy that totally globalizes all marketing activities is not always achievable or desirable (differentiated globalization). In the early phases of development, global marketing strategies were assumed to be of one type only, offering the same marketing strategy across the globe. As marketers gained more experience, many other types of global marketing strategies became apparent. Some of those were much less complicated and exposed a smaller aspect of a marketing strategy to globalization. A more common approach is for a company to globalize its product strategy (product lines, product designs and brand names) and localize distribution and marketing communication.

Global Marketing Strategies

Integrated Global Marketing Strategy

When a company pursues an integrated global marketing strategy, most elements of the marketing strategy have been globalized. Globalization includes not only the product but also the communications strategy, pricing and distribution as well as such strategic elements as segmentation and positioning. Such a strategy may be advisable for companies that face completely globalized customers along the lines. It also assumes that the way a given industry works is highly similar everywhere, thus allowing a company to unfold its strategy along similar paths in country by country. One company that fits the description of an integrated global marketing strategy to a large degree is CocaCola. That company has achieved a coherent, consistent and integrated global marketing strategy that covers almost all elements of its marketing program from segmentation to positioning, branding, distribution, bottling, advertising and more.

Reality tells us that completely integrated global marketing strategies will continue to be the exception. However, there are many other types of partially globalized marketing strategies; each may be tailored to specific industry and competitive circumstances.

Global Product Category Strategy

Possibly the least integrated type of global marketing strategy is the global product category strategy. Leverage is gained from competing in the same category country after country and may come in the form of product technology or development costs. Selecting the form of global product category implies that the company while staying within that category will consider targeting different segments in each category or varying the product, advertising and branding according to local market requirements. Companies competing in the multi-domestic mode are frequently applying the global category strategy and leveraging knowledge across markets without pursuing standardization. That strategy works best if there are significant differences across markets and when few segments are present in market after market. Several traditional multinational players who had for decades pursued a multi-domestic marketing approach-tailoring marketing strategies to local market conditions and assigning management to local management teams- have been moving toward the global category strategy. Among them are Nestle, Unilever and Procter&Gamble, three large international consumer goods companies doing business in food and household goods.

Global Segment Strategy

A company that decides to target the same segment in many countries is following a global segment strategy. The company may develop an understanding of its customer base and leverage that experience around the world. In both consumer and industrial industries significant knowledge is accumulated when a company gains in-depth understanding of a niche or segment. A pure global segment strategy will even allow for different products, brands or advertising although some standardization is expected. The choices may consist of competing always in the upper or middle segment of a given consumer market or for a particular technical application in an industrial segment. Segment strategies are relatively new to global marketing.

Global Marketing Mix Element Strategies

These strategies pursue globalization along individual marketing mix elements such as pricing, distribution, place, promotion, communications or product. They are partially globalized strategies that allow a company that customize other aspects of its marketing strategy. Although various types of strategies may apply, the most important ones are global product strategies, global advertising strategies and global branding strategies. Typically companies globalize those marketing mix elements that are subject to particularly strong global logic forces. A company facing strong global purchasing logic may globalize its account management practices or its pricing strategy. Another firm facing strong global information logic will find it important to globalize its communications strategy.

Global Product Strategy

Pursuing a global product strategy implies that a company has largely globalized its product offering. Although the product may not need to be completely standardized worldwide, key aspects or modules may in fact be globalized. Global product strategies require that product use conditions, expected features and required product functions be largely identical so that few variations or changes are needed. Companies pursuing a global product strategy are interested in leveraging the fact that all investments for producing and developing a given product have already been made. Global strategies will yield more volume, which will make the original investment easier to justify.

Global Branding Strategies

Global branding strategies consist of using the same brand name or logo worldwide. Companies want to leverage the creation of such brand names across many markets, because the launching of new brands requires a considerable marketing investment. Global branding strategies tend to be advisable if the target customers travel across country borders and will be exposed to products elsewhere.

Global branding strategies also become important if target customers are exposed to advertising worldwide. This is often the case for industrial marketing customers who may read industry and trade journals from other countries. Increasingly, global branding has become important also for consumer products where cross-border advertising through international TV channels has become common. Even in some markets such as Eastern Europe, many consumers had become aware of brands offered in Western Europe before the liberalization of the economies in the early 1990s. Global branding allows a company to take advantage of such existing goodwill. Companies pursuing global branding strategies may include luxury product marketers who typically face a large fixed investment for the worldwide promotion of a product.

Global Advertising Strategy

Globalized advertising is generally associated with the use of the same brand name across the world. However, a company may want to use different brand names partly for historic purposes. Many global firms have made acquisitions in other countries resulting in a number of local brands. These local brands have their own distinctive market and a company may find it counterproductive to change those names. Instead, the company may want to leverage a certain theme or advertising approach that may have been developed as a result of some global customer research. Global advertising themes are most advisable when a firm may market to customers seeking similar benefits across the world. Once the purchasing reason has been determined as similar, a common theme may be created to address it.

Composite Global Marketing Strategy

The above descriptions of the various global marketing models give the distinct impression that companies might be using one or the other generic strategy exclusively. Reality shows, however, that few companies consistently adhere to only one single strategy. More often companies adopt several generic global strategies and run them in parallel. A company might for one part of its business follow a global brand strategy while at the same time running local brands in other parts. Many firms are a mixture of different approaches, thus the term composite.

Competitive Global Marketing Strategies

Two types of approaches emerge as of particular interest to us. First, there are a number of heated global marketing duels in which two firms compete with each other across the entire global chessboard. The second, game pits a global company versus a local company- a situation frequently faced in many markets.

One of the longest running battles in global competition is the fight for market dominance between CocaCola and PepsiCo, the world`s largest soft drink companies.

Global firms are able to leverage their experience and market position in one market for the benefit of another. Consequently, the global firm is often a more potent competitor for a local company.

Although global firms have superior resources, they often become inflexible after several successful market entries and tend to stay with standard approaches when flexibility is called for. In general, the global firms strongest local competitors are those who watch global firms carefully and learn from their moves in other countries. With some global firms requiring several years before a product is introduced in all markets, local competitors in some markets can take advantage of such advance notice by building defenses or launching a preemptive attack on the same segment.

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