Promotion component of the global marketing mix and global promotion strategies

Marketing communications—the promotion “P” of the marketing mix—refers to all forms of communications that organizations use to establish meaning and influence buying behavior among existing and potential customers. Marketing communications should be designed to tell customers about the benefits and values that a product or service offers. The principal forms of marketing communications that is/ the elements of the promotion mix, are

  • Advertising,
  • Personal selling,
  • Publicity and
  • Sales Promotion.

All of these elements can be utilized in global marketing; however, the environment in which marketing communications programs are implemented can vary from country to country.

Advertising may be defined as any sponsored, paid communication placed in a mass-medium vehicle. Advertising plays a more important communication role in the marketing of consumer products than industrial products. Frequently purchased, low-cost products generally require heavy advertising support. Not surprisingly, consumer products companies top the list of big advertising spenders.

Global Promotion Strategies

Companies can run the same advertising and promotion campaigns used in the home market or change them for each local market, a process called communication adaptation. If it adapts both the product and the communication, the company engages in dual adaptation. There are 3 approaches that a global company can use in advertisements:

First Approach

The first approach is to consider the message. The company can change its message at four different levels. The company can use one message everywhere, varying only the language, name, and colors. Exxon used “Put a tiger in your tank” with minor variations and gained international recognition. Colours might be changed to avoid taboos in some countries. Purple is associated with death in Burma and some Latin American nations; white is a mourning color in India; and green is associated with disease in Malaysia. Even names and headlines may have to be modified. When Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany, it found that mist is slang for manure. Few Germans wanted to purchase a “manure stick.” The Dairy Association brought its “got Milk?” advertising campaign to Mexico only to find that the Spanish translation read, “Are you lactating?” When Coors put its slogan “turn it loose,” into Spanish, it was read by some as ‘suffer from diarrhoea.” In Spain, Chevrolet’s Nova translated, as “it doesn’t go.” A laundry soap ad claiming to wash “really dirty parts” was translated in French-speaking Quebec to read “a soap for washing private parts.”

Second Approach

The second Approach is to use the same theme globally but adapt the copy to each local market. For example, Camay soap commercial showed a beautiful woman bathing. In Venezuela, a man was seen in the bathroom; in Italy and France, only a man’s hand was seen; and in Japan, the man waited outside. Danish beer company, Carlsberg, goes so far as to adapt copy not to countries but to individual cities and even neighbour hoods within those cities. The 151-year-old Danish beer is available in more than 140 countries around the world, but because of the competitiveness and maturity of the U.S. market, it has to take a local tack in its approach to win new customers who aren’t familiar with the brand. All advertisements feature the same single image of the Carlsberg bottle, along with a humorous message about the specific city.

Third Approach

The third approach consists of developing a global pool of ads, from which each country selects the most appropriate one. Coca-Cola and Goodyear use this approach. Finally, some companies allow their country managers to create country-specific ads— within guidelines, of course. Kraft uses different ads for Cheez Whiz in different countries, given that household penetration is 95 percent in Puerto Rico, where the cheese is put on everything; 65 percent in Canada, where it is spread on morning breakfast toast; and 35 percent in the United States, where it is considered a junk food.

The use of media also requires international adaptation because media availability varies from country to country. Norway, Belgium, and France do not allow cigarettes and alcohol to be advertised on TV. Austria and Italy regulate TV advertising to children. Saudi Arabia does not want advertisers to use women in ads. India taxes advertising. Magazines vary in availability and effectiveness; they play a major role in Italy and a minor one in Austria. Newspapers have a national reach in the United Kingdom, but the advertiser can buy only local newspaper coverage in Spain.

Marketers must also adapt sales-promotion techniques to different markets. Greece prohibits coupons, and France prohibits games of chance and limits premiums and gifts to 5 percent of product value. People in Europe and Japan tend to make inquiries via mail rather than phone—which may have ramifications for direct mail and other sales-promotion campaigns. The result of these varying preferences and restrictions is that global companies generally assign sales promotion as a responsibility of local management.