Five Global Product and Communications Strategies for International Marketing Success

Navigating the Complexities of International Markets

6 mins read

1. Introduction

In today’s interconnected world, expanding into international markets has become a strategic imperative for many businesses. However, entering foreign markets requires careful planning and the implementation of effective product communication strategies. These strategies play a vital role in conveying promotional themes to consumers abroad, shaping their perceptions, and ultimately driving sales. Keegan has identified five major product communication strategies that international marketers can choose from to effectively convey their message to customers in different foreign markets.

This guide explores these five strategies in detail, providing insights into their advantages, challenges, and real-world case studies. By understanding these strategies and their application, businesses can navigate the complexities of international markets and maximize their chances of success.

2. Strategic Option 1: Product and Communications Extension – Dual Extension

At one extreme, companies may choose to market a standardized product using a uniform communications strategy. This approach, known as dual extension, is often adopted by early entrants in the international market or small companies with limited resources. The strategy works well when targeting a “global” segment with similar needs.

Case Study 1: Shiseido – Dual Extension Strategy Shiseido, the world’s sixth-largest cosmetics company, employs a global multi-brand strategy. Each brand is positioned similarly in different markets, with near-identical advertising and packaging. This standardized product policy coupled with a uniform communication strategy offers substantial cost savings through economies of scale. However, it may alienate foreign customers who seek products more aligned with their specific needs.

3. Strategic Option 2: Product Extension – Communications Adaptation

In some cases, companies market the same product while customizing their advertising campaigns to suit the cultural or competitive environment of different markets. This strategy, known as product extension with communications adaptation, allows companies to retain economies of scale in manufacturing while accommodating variations in consumer preferences.

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Case Study 2: Levi’s – Communications Adaptation Strategy Levi’s, a renowned clothing company, adapts its communication strategies to cater to different markets. While the basics of manufacturing and distribution remain relatively uniform, Levi’s develops both global brand positioning ads and localized ads that resonate with specific markets. For example, in the British market, Levi’s highlights British youth culture icons, while in France, it emphasizes the individuality of French youth. This approach enables Levi’s to leverage its brand name globally while still catering to local market preferences.

4. Strategic Option 3: Product Adaptation – Communications Extension

Alternatively, companies may adapt their product to suit local market conditions while using a standardized communications strategy. This strategy, known as product adaptation with communications extension, is often driven by differences in the cultural or physical environments across countries. Companies can leverage shared core values and buying behaviors among consumers to implement a harmonized communications strategy.

Case Study 3: BP – Communications Extension Strategy BP, a global energy company, delivers adapted energy products in over 100 countries. While different petrol formulations meet unique regulations in each country, the core brand values remain consistent. BP maintains a harmonized communication strategy across markets, ensuring a cohesive brand image. The company’s logo and visible aspects are markedly consistent, enhancing its global presence.

5. Strategic Option 4: Product and Communications Adaptation – Dual Adaptation

Differences in cultural and physical environments across countries may necessitate a dual adaptation strategy, wherein both the product and communication strategies are tailored to specific markets. This approach allows companies to address local preferences and overcome market-specific challenges effectively.

Case Study 4: Slim-Fast – Dual Adaptation Strategy Slim-Fast, a weight-loss product company, adapts both its product and advertising strategies to comply with varying government regulations and local preferences. For example, Slim-Fast’s ads feature different celebrities in different markets to appeal to local audiences. Additionally, the product itself may be adapted to suit local tastes. This dual adaptation strategy enables Slim-Fast to address unique market requirements while maintaining its global brand presence.

6. Strategic Option 5: Product Invention

For companies with a global mindset, creating products with a global scope rather than focusing on a single country can be a viable strategy. Product invention involves developing new products that cater to common needs and opportunities worldwide. This approach requires companies to identify global market opportunities and manage a global product development process.

Case Study 5: Black & Decker – Product Invention Strategy Black & Decker, a well-known household brand, adopts a product invention approach to international market expansion. The company aims to develop new products that meet global needs by leveraging a worldwide household board. This board approves global plans, allocates resources, and provides direction and support. One successful product resulting from this approach is the SnakeLight Flexible Flashlight, which addresses the global need for portable lighting.

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7. Key Factors to Consider in Choosing a Strategy

When selecting a product communication strategy for international markets, several factors should be taken into account. These factors include the target market characteristics, consumer preferences, cultural nuances, competitive landscape, regulatory requirements, and available resources. By thoroughly analyzing these factors, companies can make informed decisions and choose the most suitable strategy for their international marketing efforts.

8. Case Studies

Real-world case studies provide valuable insights into how different companies have successfully implemented product communication strategies in international markets. These case studies highlight the challenges faced, the strategies adopted, and the outcomes achieved.

Case Study 1: Shiseido – Dual Extension Strategy

Shiseido, a Japanese cosmetics company, follows a dual extension strategy by marketing a standardized product using a uniform communications strategy across different international markets. This case study explores how Shiseido maintains a global multi-brand strategy and positions each brand similarly in various markets.

Case Study 2: Levi’s – Communications Adaptation Strategy

Levi’s, an iconic clothing brand, adapts its communication strategies to cater to specific markets while maintaining a consistent product. This case study delves into Levi’s approach to customized advertising campaigns that resonate with local audiences and contribute to brand success.

Case Study 3: BP – Communications Extension Strategy

BP, a global energy company, exemplifies the communications extension strategy by maintaining consistent brand values and communication strategies across diverse international markets. This case study examines how BP leverages its core brand identity while adapting to local market circumstances.

Case Study 4: Slim-Fast – Dual Adaptation Strategy

Slim-Fast, a weight-loss product company, successfully implements a dual adaptation strategy by adapting both its product and communications to meet local preferences and regulatory requirements. This case study delves into Slim-Fast’s approach to dual adaptation and its impact on international market expansion.

Case Study 5: Black & Decker – Product Invention Strategy

Black & Decker, a household brand, demonstrates the product invention strategy by developing products with a global scope and addressing common needs worldwide. This case study explores Black & Decker’s global product development process and the successful launch of the SnakeLight Flexible Flashlight.

9. Implementation Challenges and Tips for Success

Implementing product communication strategies in international markets can be challenging due to cultural differences, language barriers, legal and regulatory complexities, and varying consumer preferences. This section highlights common implementation challenges and provides practical tips for success, including conducting thorough market research, building local partnerships, leveraging digital platforms, and ensuring effective cross-cultural communication.

10. Conclusion

Choosing the right product communication strategy is crucial for international marketing success. By understanding the five major strategies and their nuances, companies can tailor their approach to different foreign markets effectively. Whether through dual extension, communications adaptation, product adaptation, dual adaptation, or product invention, businesses can navigate the complexities of international markets and drive growth.

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11. Key Takeaways

  • Five major product communication strategies for international marketing include dual extension, communications adaptation, product adaptation, dual adaptation, and product invention.
  • Dual extension involves marketing a standardized product with a uniform communications strategy, while communications adaptation focuses on customizing advertising campaigns for the same product.
  • Product adaptation entails modifying the product to suit local market conditions, while communications extension refers to using a standardized communications strategy with adapted products.
  • Dual adaptation requires both product and communications customization to address differences in cultural and physical environments.
  • Product invention involves creating products with a global scope to cater to common needs and opportunities worldwide.
  • Successful implementation of these strategies requires careful consideration of target market characteristics, consumer preferences, cultural nuances, competitive landscape, regulatory requirements, and available resources.

12. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ 1: What are the key product communication strategies in international marketing?

The five major product communication strategies in international marketing are dual extension, communications adaptation, product adaptation, dual adaptation, and product invention.

FAQ 2: How do companies adapt their strategies for foreign markets?

Companies can adapt their strategies for foreign markets by considering factors such as cultural differences, consumer preferences, regulatory requirements, and competitive landscape. They can customize their product or communications or both, depending on the strategy chosen.

FAQ 3: What are the advantages of product and communications extension?

Product and communications extension strategies offer cost savings through economies of scale. They allow companies to leverage a standardized approach and maintain a consistent brand image globally.

FAQ 4: How can companies manage product and communications adaptation effectively?

Companies can manage product and communications adaptation effectively by conducting thorough market research, building local partnerships, and ensuring effective cross-cultural communication. Adapting to local market conditions and consumer preferences while maintaining brand consistency is key.

FAQ 5: How does product invention contribute to global market expansion?

Product invention involves creating products with a global scope, addressing common needs and opportunities worldwide. This approach allows companies to proactively seek global market opportunities and expand their presence beyond a single country.


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