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International Marketing and Culture
Globalization has increased opportunities for international marketing and business for many companies that could not afford to do so in the past. Many researchers consider international marketing to be synonymous with exporting. However, they are not the same and international marketing is much more complex than simple exporting. When a company exports its goods, they already have a buyer. Many timesm this buyer is the local distributor for the goods and has to market to local clientele. The end distributor is immersed in the culture and already has an established business in the area. They already understand their market and the exporter is simply someone on the their supply chain. International marketing involves taking the place of the end distributor. This is a much more complex issue than simply being a step in someone else's supply chain. This research will support the thesis that establishing brand image in the United States will involve a different strategy than establishing brand image of in China and India for Canadian companies.
International Marketing Basics
International marketing involves more than simply placing goods in packages and preparing them for transportation. International marketing involves understanding the target culture and developing a marketing plan that will reach the target market. A lack of understanding of the local culture can mean disaster. Marketing techniques that work in one culture often do not work in a different culture. The international marketer must understand the language, the religion, values, attitudes, educational resources, social organizations, technology, laws, politics, and sense of aesthetics of the culture in which they wish to establish a market.
Language is often the greatest barrier that international marketers must overcome. Learning a new language goes beyond simply understanding the words. Every language has cultural elements that require an understanding of the contextual elements. High context languages do not always carry the extent of what is said in the words that are spoken. Some examples of high context languages include Japanese and Arabic. Applying the contextual rules of one's home culture to that of someone from a different culture can lead to the wrong message being conveyed. This can mean disaster for the international marketer. Making certain that the message is understood goes beyond interpreting the languages word for word. The following will explore contextual considerations for a business in Canada that wishes to establish markets in the United States, China, and India.
US Market Entry Considerations
The U.S. is Canada's the next door neighbor and shares many cultural elements with U.S. citizens. NAFTA eliminated many of the technical barriers to exporting to the United States. However, if a Canadian company wishes to establish itself in the United States, they must understand what makes Canadian and United States cultures different. The following will explore some of the key differences between Canada and the United States as they relate to someone who wants to market products in the United States.
The first consideration in marketing in the United States is that the population of the U.S. is about 300 million, whereas the Canadian population is about 32 million (Socyberty, 2007). In both the U.S. And Canada, the population is concentrated in major urban centers. The U.S. has ten major urban centers, whereas Canada has only four. From a marketing perspective this means more potential customers, but only if the marketer can reach their target market. This can be difficult, as the U.S. is much more culturally diverse and has more minority groups than Canada. The U.S. is more involved in world trade than Canada and also more politically involved in foreign politics (Socyberty, 2007).
In terms of communication style, Americans tend to be more "in your face" than Canadians. Canadians are much more conscious about conserving fuel than Americans, who tend to buy more the big muscle cars (Socyberty, 2007). Americans tend to want what they get fast and the do not care about content as much as price and speed (Socyberty, 2007). Americans are considered to be fast moving and commercialized, where Canadians tend to be lower profile and tend to solve problems in old fashioned ways (Socyberty, 2007). Of course these ideals represent stereotypes and do not represent every of prospective client.
The marketer must be careful about using stereotypes. Solid market research is still the foundation of a successful marketing campaign, regardless of the cultural differences. The marketer must still do their due diligence in order to understand their target market and their wishes. For instance, if the marketer is marketing a product that was intended for older Americans, it is not likely that they would be that as receptive to the flashy products and bold words as the younger generation.
According to Wu, (2006), culture is dynamic and continually changes. Therefore, the values and cultural norms that were used by marketers even the as recent as five years ago might not still apply to the target market today. The stereotypes mentioned in this essay are just that. They might provide a general overview of the market, but the marketer must be careful not to assume that these are the prevailing of attitudes of their target market. The culture of the United States is difficult to decipher in general terms because it is made of many different ethnic groups. The effects of these different ethnic groups are complex. Marketing to the United States will require considerable research into the market for the particular item being offered.
Chinese and Indian Market Entry Considerations
Underlying cultural differences are more evident between Canadians and Asian countries. Language difficulties are much more pronounced than with the United States. Cultural norms and customs may seem exotic to the marketer. Establishing a business in China or India may pose more difficulties from a social and political standpoint than establishing trade with the United States.
Runkel (2007) China and India pose lucrative opportunities for foreign direct investment. Both of these countries suffer from several conditions that may represent difficulties, such as a poor state of infrastructure, traffic problems, corruption, and a bureaucracy that makes it difficult to get things accomplished efficiently. From a technical standpoint, understanding the taxing regimes and issues involved in obtaining permits can represent difficulties. Yet, their expanding economies present many opportunities for those who wish to work to overcome the differences between these two worlds.
Language poses a more difficult problem with India and China than it does with the United States for Canadian businesses. Mandarin is still the most common language in China, but native English speakers find it difficult to learn. In India, English has become the accepted language for conducting business. In China, this is not the case (Runkel, 2007). From a marketing perspective, this is important because marketing to India would allow Canadians to use English, which is the native language for many Canadians. However, marketing to China would require that that firms hire someone who has more than a basic understanding of mandarin. Attempting to force the Chinese to accept commercial advertising in English would be to violate their cultural norms and could result in losing the market entirely. If the customer is insulted, they are not likely to make purchases. A feeble attempt at understanding a context-intensive language such as mandarin would be seen as an insincere attempt to take their money. The Chinese value of strong relationships and it can be difficult for an outsider to enter into their world.
Currently, over 90% of all businesses in Canada see China and India as an essential key to continued market growth (Nguyen, 2011). Yet, the same poll indicates that they do not feel that that relationships that are currently as strong as they need to be in order to accomplish these goals. Cultural differences are at the heart of difficulties in establishing relationships between Canadians and the Chinese. Klein (2010) found that in addition to product, price, place, and promotion, businesses marketing to countries such as India and China need to add a fifth P. To the mix. They need to consider social purpose and exhibit good corporate citizenship. These characteristics are important in Asian countries, regardless of how desirable the product might be. It is not all about the money India and China. The company must add some type of value to the local and national economy if they wish to do business in India and China.
The role of government in China and India must be understood. In China, the government may be the customer or the owner of the enterprise. The government in India is rather inefficient (Khanna, 2008). Interactions with the government are part of that country's culture and must be understood before the business can even begin to build a following in that country. A second cultural difference between the two countries is their openness to outside influence and the foreign direct investment. India has embraced foreign direct investment largely as a result of China's influence in this regard (Khanna, 2008). China followed an extreme path of in the allowance of foreign direct…[continue]
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