Stages in International Marketing

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STAGES IN INTERNATIONAL MARKETING

Learning Objectives

After reading this section, students should be able to …

  1. define domestic marketing, international marketing, export marketing, multinational marketing, and global marketing
  2. explain the difference between domestic marketing, international marketing, export marketing, multinational marketing, and global marketing

Earlier in our discussion on definitions, we identified several terms that relate to how committed a firm is to being international. Here we expand on these concepts and explain the rationale behind this process. Two points should be noted. First, the process tends to be ranked in order of  “least risk and investment” to “greatest involvement”. Second, these are not necessarily sequential steps, even though exporting is apparently most common as an initial entry.

Firms typically approach involvement in international marketing rather cautiously, and there appears to exist an underlying lifecycle that has a series of critical success factors that change as a firm moves through each stage. For small and medium-sized firms, in particular, exporting remains the most promising alternative to a full-blooded international marketing effort, since it appears to offer a degree of control over risk, cost, and resource commitment. Indeed, exporting, especially by the smaller firms, is often initiated as a response to an unsolicited overseas order-these are often perceived to be less risky. Therefore, the following possibilities exist:

Domestic marketing. This involves the company manipulating a series of controllable variables, such as price, advertising, distribution, and the product, in a largely uncontrollable external environment that is made up of different economic structures, competitors, cultural values, and legal infrastructure within specific political or geographic country boundaries.

International marketing. This involves the company operating across several markets in which not only do the uncontrollable variables differ significantly between one market and another, but the controllable factor in the form of cost and price structures, opportunities for advertising, and distributive infrastructure are also likely to differ significantly.

Export marketing. In this case the firm markets its goods and/or services across national/political boundaries. In general, exporting is a simple and low risk-approach to entering foreign markets. Firms may choose to export products for several reasons. First, products in the maturity stage of their domestic life cycle may find new growth opportunities overseas, as Perrier chose to do in the US. Second, some firms find it less risky and more profitable to expand by exporting current products instead of developing new products. Third, firms who face seasonal domestic demand may choose to sell their products to foreign markets when those products are “in season” there. Finally, some firms may elect to export products because there is less competition overseas.

A firm can export its products in one of three ways: indirect exporting, semi-direct exporting, and direct exporting. Indirect exporting is a common practice among firms that are just beginning their exporting. Sales, whether foreign or domestic, are treated as domestic sales. All sales are made through the firm’s domestic sales department, as there is no export department. Indirect exporting involves very little investment, as no overseas sales force or other types of contacts need to be developed. Indirect exporting also involves little risk, as international marketing intermediaries have knowledge of markets and will make fewer mistakes than sellers.

In semi-direct exporting, an American exporter usually initiates the contact through agents, merchant middlemen, or other manufacturers in the US. Such semi-direct exporting can be handled in a variety of ways: (a) a combination export manager, a domestic agent intermediary that acts as an exporting department for several noncompeting firms; (b) the manufacturer’s export agent (MEA) operates very much like a manufacturer’s agent in domestic marketing settings; (c) a Webb-Pomerene Export Association may choose to limit cooperation to advertising, or it may handle the exporting of the products of the association’s members and; (d) piggyback exporting, in which one manufacturer (carrier) that has export facilities and overseas channels of distribution handles the exporting of another firm (rider) noncompeting but complementary products.

When direct exporting is the means of entry into a foreign market, the manufacturer establishes an export department to sell directly to a foreign film. The exporting manufacturer conducts market research, establishes physical distribution, and obtains all necessary export documentation. Direct exporting requires greater investment and also carries a greater risk. However, it also provides greater potential return and greater control of its marketing program.

Multinational marketing. Here the marketing activities of an organization include activities, interests, or operations in more than one country, and where there is some kind of influence or control of marketing activities from outside the country in which the goods or services will actually be sold. Each of these markets is typically perceived to be independent and a profit center in its own right.

Global marketing. The entire organization focuses on the selection and exploration of global marketing opportunities and marshals resources around the globe with the objective of achieving a global competitive advantage. The primary objective of the company is to achieve synergy in the overall operation, so that by taking advantage of different exchange rates, tax rates, labor rates, skill levels, and market opportunities, the organization as a whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

Thus Toyota Motors started out as a domestic marketer, eventually exported its cars to a few regional markets, grew to become a multinational marketer, and today is a true global marketer, building manufacturing plants in the foreign country as well as hiring local labor, using local ad agencies, and complying to that country’s cultural mores. As it moved from one level to the next, it also revised attitudes toward marketing and the underlying philosophy of business.

Ultimately, the successful marketer is the one who is best able to manipulate the controllable tools of the marketing mix within the uncontrollable environment. The principal reason for failure in international marketing results from a company not conducting the necessary research, and as a consequence, misunderstanding the differences and nuances of the marketing environment within the country that has been targeted.

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