While a limited number of brands and products, such as Coca Cola, continue to enjoy global appeal, the majority of products and services need to be marketed differently depending on the country, region or demographic to which they are trying to appeal. For example, a large engine car may have a strong appeal in the United States where fuel prices are relatively low, but that same car sold in Europe will need to be marketed differently or sold with a smaller engine as fuel prices are significantly higher and the demand is for more economical vehicles.
As Kotler and Armstrong (2014, pp.92) observe, the marketing environment can have a significant impact on the appeal of a product. Before considering individual products and how the culture impacts their marketing, we need to examine the factors which influence a successful transaction. Borden (1964) and numerous authors since refer to this as the marketing mix constituting the “four P’s”. The marketing mix can be used to describe four elements (price, product, promotion, and place) which need to be considered during the marketing of a product.
Tse, Lee, Vertinsky and Wehrung (1988) performed a study which examines how despite globalisation of many products, localised marketing strategies are still essential to ensure successful local market penetration. Therefore, marketers need to carefully consider how the local culture can impact how the “four P’s” are addressed.
Shen, Wang, Lo and Shum (2012) provide an interesting perspective on the impact of ethical fashion between cultures. They observe that in some countries, consumers are willing to pay a premium for ethically sourced clothing while in others, there is no such consideration and therefore, no demand for the product. This distinction appears to be largely driven by the stage of economic development of a country. So, using the “four P’s” in the United Kingdom (Place), consumers would be willing to pay and additional sum (Price) to ensure that the fabrics (Product) were ethically sourced which is the main selling point for the product (Promotion).
Consider the same product being marketed in a newly industrialised country such as China (Place). Walz (2010) discusses how while environmental and sustainability policies are a consideration for manufacturers in less economically developed countries, consumers in these countries are not heavily influenced by the ethical agenda. Therefore the product is likely to be different as will the promotion and the price.
In contrast, the marketing of software relies less on cultural differences as the product, such as an operating system, is generally optimised for a global market, with multiple language capabilities and supporting a range of international input devices. The factors which are likely to be adjusted locally are likely to be the price and the method of promotion.
Of course, the economic downturn has had an impact even in economically developed countries, so software manufacturers must adjust their price and promotion as the market changes.
Borden, N. (1964) ‘The concept of the marketing mix’, Journal of advertising research, 4(2), pp. 2-7. [Online]. Available from: http://www.commerce.uct.ac.za/managementstudies/Courses/bus2010s/2007/Nicole%20Frey/Assignments/Borden,%201984_The%20concept%20of%20marketing.pdf (Accessed: 18 January 2014).
Kotler, P. & Armstrong, G. (2014) Principles of Marketing, 15th Edition. London: Pearson Education Ltd.
Shen, B., Wang, Y., Lo, C. & Shum, M. (2012) ‘The impact of ethical fashion on consumer purchase behavior’, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 16(2), pp.234-245, Emerald. [Online]. Available from: http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/journals.htm?articleid=17031316 (Accessed: 18 January 2014).
Tse, D., Lee, K., Vertinsky, I.& Wehrung, D. (1988) ‘Does Culture Matter? A Cross-Cultural Study of Executives’ Choice, Decisiveness, and Risk Adjustment in International Marketing’, Journal of Marketing, 52(4), pp.81-95, JSTOR. [Online]. Available from: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/stable/1251635 (Accessed: 18 January 2014).
Walz, R. (2010) ‘Competences for green development and leapfrogging in newly industrializing countries’, International Economics and Economic Policy, 7(3), pp. 245-265, SpringerLink. [Online]. Available from: http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/article/10.1007/s10368-010-0164-x/fulltext.html (Accessed: 18 January 2014).