Marketing has been recognized as the core element that can either break or make a business. However, while domestic marketing poses myriad of challenges to marketers; international marketing is even more challenging owing to the fact that foreign marketers have to override numerous economic, social, legal, political and cultural barriers which are present in foreign locations.
On the same note, whereas the aforementioned factors are equally important, culture is the pinnacle in international marketing since overlooking cultural differences may lead to poor performance of the adopted marketing strategies. Nonetheless, Czinkota and Ronkainen (66-72) have identified various cultural strategies that a marketer must take into consideration before venturing into international marketing.
To begin with, a marketer can adopt culturally congruent strategy whereby marketing strategies do not deviate from the norm so as to minimize cultural resistance. However, this strategy ignores the idea of product differentiation without which a product might not achieve a competitive edge in foreign market (Czinkota & Ronkainen 65).
Secondly, is the culturally distinct strategy whereby a marketer introduces some minor changes to commonly practiced market strategies with an aim of achieving product differentiation (Czinkota & Ronkainen 65). Contrastingly, this strategy might not work if the differences are rejected by the consumers especially in conservative markets (Czinkota & Ronkainen 66).
Finally, a marketer might decide to adopt culturally disparate strategies by ignoring the underlying marketing norms available in foreign culture. Instead, a marketer uses advertising and communication avenues to sell the different idea (Czinkota & Ronkainen 68). However such a strategy is highly risky since it is difficult to speculate the kind of attitudes it is likely to yield among consumers (Czinkota & Ronkainen 68).
As epitomized above, cultural factors come into play in foreign marketing. For this reason, foreign marketers must always exhibit some form of cultural empathy while designing marketing programs. Czinkotaand Ronkainen (71) underscore that cultural empathy is important because by putting themselves into foreign customers position, marketers are able to understand and appreciate the cultural disparities that exist.
Moreover cultural apathy eliminates any form of cultural apathy and ignorance and consequently shields international marketers from obvious mistakes. In addition, foreign marketers can achieve cultural empathy by adopting culturally congruent marketing strategies (Czinkota & Ronkainen 72).
On the same note, it is imperative to mention that peoples’ culture is influenced by social institutions that are present in particular societies (Czinkota & Ronkainen 68). These social institutions include family, religion, school, the media, government, and corporations.
They all have the ability to shape culture in one way or the other (Czinkota & Ronkainen 69). For instance, Islamic religious belief that pig is unclean has shaped Muslims culture towards abstinence from pork products. In addition, the presence of educational institutions impacts on society since literacy shapes culture.
Similarly, the above element affects marketing because marketers have to consider the characteristics of social institutions while designing their marketing program (Czinkota & Ronkainen 72). For instance marketing program directed towards a literate culture is not similar to those aimed at literate cultures. This implies that social institutions modify consumers’ behavior (Czinkota & Ronkainen 75).
Apparently, any marketer willing to succeed especially in global markets that are highly competitive ought to dedicate considerable effort towards this cause. However, in the jurisdiction of their duty marketers come across various economic and cultural challenges which are more often beyond their control, yet they have to employ milestone effort to override these barriers. Therefore, marketing can be viewed as interplay between marketer’s effort cultural and economic elements.
Besides constrains of culture, foreign marketers are also caught in the quagmire of language disparities. Language constrains comes into play because of variations in terms of vocabularies, symbols meaning and taboo words (Czinkota & Ronkainen 86). Therefore, a marketer has to ensure that symbols vocabularies and idiomatic expressed contained in promotional features do not derive unintended meaning to the consumer (Czinkota & Ronkainen 87).
In a nutshell, it is imperative to reiterate that international marketing is more challenging than domestic marketing owing to the myriad of challenges that mostly arise from cultural and language differences.
Czinkota, Michael & Ronkainen, Ilkka. International marketing (4 ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2007. Print