International marketing mistakes related to culture
International MarketingMistakes Related to cultureBy:Mohamed Khalifa Eslsca – MBA - May 2011
Introduction With faster communication, transportation and financial flows, the world is rapidly shrinking.(1) Brands or products originating from one country – Gucci handbags, Mont Blanc pens, German BMWs, Japanese sushi, McDonald‘s hamburgers – are finding enthusiastic acceptance in others.(1) International trade is booming. Since 1969, the number of multinational corporations in the world‘s 14 richest countries has more than tripled from 7,000 to 24,000.(1) These companies control one-third of all private-sector assets and enjoy world sales of $6 trillion.(1) Imports of goods and services now account for 24% of gross domestic product worldwide, double that of 40 years ago.(1) World trade now accounts for 29% of world GDP, a 10% increase since 1990.(1)(1) Philip Kotler; Principles of Marketing; 4th European Edition, 2005.
Cultural environment Culture is defined simply as the learned distinctive way of life of a society. (1) The dimensions of culture include: (1) • The social organization of society, • Religion, • Customs and rituals, • Values and attitudes towards domestic and international life, • Education provision and literacy levels, • Political system, • Aesthetic systems (e.g. folklore, music, arts, literature) and language. (1) Each country has its own traditions, cultural norms and taboos. (1) When designing global marketing strategies, companies must understand how culture affects consumer reactions in each of its international markets. In turn, they must also understand how their strategies affect culture. (1)(1) Philip Kotler; Principles of Marketing; 4th European Edition, 2005.
Mistakes Related to culture In this global marketplace, extension of products and services into foreign markets, often faces unanticipated cross-cultural challenges involving consumer cultural behavior. (1) Consider the following examples: Coca Cola: • In India, the company had to change its marketing message when it was discovered that water was drunk at most meals and soft drinks were typically reserved for guests and special occasions (Malhotra, Agarwal, and Peterson, 1996). • In Japan, ‗Diet Coke‘ was renamed ‗Coke Light‘ after the firm learned that the term ‗diet‘ carried an embarrassing connotation (Cateora , International marketing 14th e 2009). UPS: • In Spain, the brown trucks had to be repainted because they resembled the country‘s hearses (Cateora , International marketing 14th e 2009). • In Germany, the drivers‘ uniforms were changed because no one in that country had been required to wear a brown shirt since 1945 (Cateora , International marketing 14th e 2009).(1) Vincent P. Magnini; Photo-Elicitation as a Tool to Alleviate International Marketing Mistakes; Journal of Global Competitiveness , Vol. 14(2), 2006
Blunders Blunders are ―A usually serious avoidable mistake typically caused by carelessness, poor judgment, incomplete analysis, ignorance or confusion‖ (1) International marketing blunders represent avoidable mistakes made by companies in foreign markets.(2) Blunder occurs "if the management problem was foreseeable, but a solution was either poorly prepared or entirely overlooked and a significant & negative result was obtained.‖(2) Because of their avoidable nature and association with gross misjudgment, blunders often emerge as humorous business stories.(1) American Heritage Dictionary(2) Tevfik Dalgic and Ruud Heijblom ; Educator Insights: International Marketing Blunders Revisited; Journal of International Marketing; Vol. 4, No. 1. 1996.
Blunders Many types of blunders result from ignorance of cultural and other macro- environmental variables. If international marketers are misinformed about the cultural characteristics of foreign markets or lack sufficient information regarding macro- environmental factors, they may stumble into blunders unintentionally (1) A Framework for Analyzing International Marketing Blunders and Their Possible Causes. (1)(1) Tevfik Dalgic and Ruud Heijblom ; Educator Insights: International Marketing Blunders Revisited; Journal of International Marketing; Vol. 4, No. 1. 1996.
Tiz Razors of Iran in the Qatari Market (1) Following the fundamentalist revolution in Iran, the new Islamic government nationalized all major companies. Among them was a razor manufacturing firm operating with a British license. The company had been using the brand name Tiz, which means sharp in the local language. The brand name had enjoyed good customer acceptance in Iran with its sharp image. In the mid-1980s, in response to the governments foreign currency deficit—a consequence of the war with Iraq—the company was encouraged to mount an export drive. It targeted the most obvious market, the nearest and the richest one, Qatar. The first shipments of Tiz were made after an agency and distribution agreement was finalized with a local importer. Soon after the product launch in Qatar however, the distributor realized that the Persian brand name Tiz was creating some serious problems with customers. It was discovered that the brand names connotation in Arabic slang referred to "buttocks" Following numerous frantic telephone calls between the manufacturer and the distributor, all razors with the Tiz brand name were recalled and re-shipped to Iran. The company then chose a different brand name, Muqdam, meaning "hero" in Arabic. This new brand name received a much more favorable reception in Qatar.(1) Tevfik Dalgic and Ruud Heijblom ; Educator Insights: International Marketing Blunders Revisited; Journal of International Marketing; Vol. 4, No. 1. 1996.
Neerlandia Exports Milk Powder to Africa(1) The Dutch milk powder producer, Neerlandia, bad been exporting milk powder to some African countries in tin boxes. During a cost-cutting drive, company management decided to change the packaging of milk powder from aluminum cans to alu-packs made of aluminum foil. An importer in one of the African countries did not have a favorable response to this change. First, local customs officials became suspicious of the content of these new alu-packs, believing that they contained illicit drugs. Customs officers satisfied themselves as to the actual contents of the alu-packs only after an intensive series of inspections. However, once cleared through customs, the company faced a new problem with its customers. It seems that buyers, subsequent to consuming the powdered milk, had been using the tin boxes of the previous packaging as vessels for boiling water and preparing food, and even as building blocks. Hence, not only were customers unfamiliar with the new alu-pack containers, they were displeased to find that the milk powders were no longer packed in tin boxes. Following a period of reduced sales, Neerlandia discontinued the alu- packs and reverted to the former reusable tin box packaging.(1) Tevfik Dalgic and Ruud Heijblom ; Educator Insights: International Marketing Blunders Revisited; Journal of International Marketing; Vol. 4, No. 1. 1996.
Heineken Encounters Cultural Troubles(1) Heineken engaged in a special promotional campaign during the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament. Among other activities, the company had the flags of all of the countries qualifying for World Cup Finals imprinted under the bottle cap of their leading brand of beer. Among the numerous flags portrayed was that of Saudi Arabia, which depicts a holy verse. In response to this, Muslims from all over the world reacted angrily to the fact that holy verse was associated with alcoholic beverage. Subsequently, the brewer had to recall all bottles and discontinue its promotion. A simple cultural oversight led to considerable embarrassment and customer disappointment.(1) Tevfik Dalgic and Ruud Heijblom ; Educator Insights: International Marketing Blunders Revisited; Journal of International Marketing; Vol. 4, No. 1. 1996.
Blunders In 2002, Umbro the UK sports manufacturer had to withdraw its new trainers (sneakers) called the Zyklon. The firm received complaints from many organisations and individuals as it was the name of the gas used by the Nazi regime to murder millions of Jews in concentration camps. (1) Proctor & Gamble used a television commercial in Japan that was popular in Europe. The ad showed a woman bathing, her husband entering the bathroom and touching her. The Japanese considered this ad an invasion of privacy, inappropriate behaviour, and in very poor taste. (1) Leona Helmsley should have done her homework before she approved a promotion that compared her Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York as comparable to the Taj Mahal--a mausoleum (tomb) in India. (1) A golf ball manufacturing company packaged golf balls in packs of four for convenient purchase in Japan. Unfortunately, pronunciation of the word "four" in Japanese sounds like the word "death" and items packaged in fours are unpopular. (1) Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in Southeast Asia by emphasizing that it "whitens your teeth." They found out that the local natives chew betel nuts to blacken their teeth which they find attractive. (1) A company advertised eyeglasses in Thailand by featuring a variety of cute animals wearing glasses. The ad was a poor choice since animals are considered to be a form of low life and no self respecting Thai would wear anything worn by animals. (1)(1) http://www.articlesbase.com/marketing-articles/top-20-global-marketing-communications-mistakes-1234051.html#ixzz1M7iZrloO
Blunders from translation1. North American companies have a long history of marketing blunders in the international marketplace. The most famous example is GM‘s attempt to sell the Chevy Nova in Mexico despite the fact that ―no va‖ is Spanish for ―no go.‖ (1)2. Baby food manufacturer Gerber has had problem in France as ―gerber‖ can be translated from French as ―to vomit.‖ (1)3. In 1987, Braniff Airlines installed leather seats in its coach class in order to bolster lagging sales. Allegedly, the airline used the slogan ―Fly in Leather‖ in their English advertising. When the slogan was translated into Spanish, ―vuela en ceuro‖, Braniff failed to realize that ―en cueros‖ is slang for being naked. In other words, the now defunct airline was encouraging patrons in Spanish speaking countries to ―fly naked‖ (1)4. Traficante an Italian mineral water found a great reception in Spains underworld. In Spanish it translates as "drug dealer". (2)5. Sharwoods, a UK food manufacturer, spent £6 million on a campaign to launch its new Bundh sauces. It received calls from numerous Punjabi speakers telling them that "bundh" sounded just like the Punjabi word for ―Ass". (2)(1) Wilton, D. & Brunetti, I. (2004). Word myths: Debunking linguistic urban legends. New York: Oxford University Press.(2) http://www.articlesbase.com/marketing-articles/top-20-global-marketing-communications-mistakes-1234051.html#ixzz1M7iZrloO
Blunders from translation6. Honda introduced their new car "Fitta" into Nordic countries in 2001. They discovered that "fitta" was an old word used in vulgar language to refer to a womans genitals in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. In the end they renamed it "Honda Jazz". (1)7. American Motors tried to market its new car, the Matador, based on the image of courage and strength. However, in Puerto Rico the name means "killer" and was not popular on the hazardous roads in the country. (1)8. The soft drink Fresca in Mexico. The sales people were embarrassed as fresca is slang for "lesbian.―(1)9. Kellogg had to rename its Bran Buds cereal in Sweden when it discovered that the name roughly translated to "burned farmer.―(1)10. When Pepsico advertised Pepsi in Taiwan with the ad "Come Alive With Pepsi" they had no idea that it would be translated into Chinese as "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.―(1)11. Coors put its slogan, "Turn It Loose" into Spanish where its translation was read as "Suffer From Diarrhea.―(1)(1) http://www.articlesbase.com/marketing-articles/top-20-global-marketing-communications-mistakes-1234051.html#ixzz1M7iZrloO
Suggestion to avoid Blunders(1) Dont Be Over-Confident or Over-Optimistic About the Potential of Your Product. Dont Overlook the Importance of Learning in International Markets. Avoid Ethnocentrism. Avoid the Self-Reference Criterion Do Your Homework Properly. Seek Relationships, Not Transactions, in International Marketing.(1) Tevfik Dalgic and Ruud Heijblom ; Educator Insights: International Marketing Blunders Revisited; Journal of International Marketing; Vol. 4, No. 1. 1996.