The evolution of global marketing Whether an organisation markets its goods and services domestically or internationally, the definition of marketing still applies. However, the scope of marketing is broadened when the organisation decides to sell across international boundaries, this being primarily due to the numerous other dimensions which the organisation has to account for. For example, the organisation’s language of business may be “English”, but it may have to do business in the “French language”.
This not only requires a translation facility, but the French cultural conditions have to be accounted for as well. Doing business “the French way” may be different from doing it “the English way”. This is particularly true when doing business with the Japanese. Let us, firstly define “Marketing” and then see how, by doing marketing across multinational boundaries, differences, where existing, have to be accounted for. S. Carter defines marketing as: The process of building lasting relationships through planning, executing and controlling the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create mutual exchange that satisfy individual and organisational needs and objectives”. The long held tenants of marketing are “customer value”, “competitive advantage” and “focus”. This means that organisations have to study the market, develop products or services that satisfy customer needs and wants, develop the “correct” marketing mix and satisfy its own objectives as well as giving customer satisfaction on a continuing basis.
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However, it became clear in the 1980s that this definition of marketing was too narrow. Preoccupation with the tactical workings of the marketing mix led to neglect of long term product development, so “Strategic Marketing” was born. The focus was shifted from knowing everything about the customer, to knowing the customer in a context which includes the competition, government policy and regulations, and the broader economic, social and political macro forces that shape the evolution of markets.
In global marketing terms this means forging alliances (relationships) or developing networks, working closely with home country government officials and industry competitors to gain access to a target market. Also the marketing objective has changed from one of satisfying organisational objectives to one of “stakeholder” benefits – including employees, society, government and so on. Profit is still essential but not an end in itself.
Strategic marketing according to Wensley (1982) has been defined as: “Initiating, negotiating and managing acceptable exchange relationships with key interest groups or constituencies, in the pursuit of sustainable competitive advantage within specific markets, on the basis of long run consumer, channel and other stakeholder franchise”. Whether one takes the definition of “marketing” or “strategic marketing”, “marketing” must still be regarded as both a philosophy and a set of functional activities.
As a philosophy embracing customer value (or satisfaction), planning and organising activities to meet individual and organisational objectives, marketing must be internalised by all members of an organisation, because without satisfied customers the organisation will eventually die. As a set of operational activities, marketing embraces selling, advertising, transporting, market research and product development activities to name but a few. It is important to note that marketing is not just a philosophy or one or some of the operational activities. It is both.
In planning for marketing, the organisation has to basically decide what it is going to sell, to which target market and with what marketing mix (product, place, promotion, price and people). Although these tenents of marketing planning must apply anywhere, when marketing across national boundaries, the difference between domestic and international marketing lies almost entirely in the differences in national environments within which the global programme is conducted and the differences in the organisation and programmes of a firm operating simultaneously in different national markets.
It is recognised that in the “postmodern” era of marketing, even the assumptions and long standing tenents of marketing like the concepts of “consumer needs”, “consumer sovereignty”, “target markets” and “product/market processes” are being challenged. The emphasis is towards the emergence of the “customising consumer”, that is, the customer who takes elements of the market offerings and moulds a customised consumption experience out of these. Even further, post modernisim, posts that the consumer who is the consumed, the ultimate arketable image, is also becoming liberated from the sole role of a consumer and is becoming a producer. This reveals itself in the desire for the consumer to become part of the marketing process and to experience immersion into “thematic settings” rather than merely to encounter products. So in consuming food products for example, it becomes not just a case of satisfying hunger needs, but also can be rendered as an image – producing act. In the post modern market place the product does not project images, it fills images.
This is true in some foodstuffs. The consumption of “designer water” or “slimming foods” is a statement of a self image, not just a product consuming act. Acceptance of postmodern marketing affects discussions of products, pricing, advertising, distribution and planning. However, given the fact that this textbook is primarily written with developing economies in mind, where the environmental conditions, consumer sophistication and systems are not such that allow a quantum leap to postmodernism, it is intended to mention the concept in passing.
Further discussion on the topic is available in the accompanying list of readings. When organisations develop into global marketing organisations, they usually evolve into this from a relatively small export base. Some firms never get any further than the exporting stage. Marketing overseas can, therefore, be anywhere on a continuum of “foreign” to “global”. It is well to note at this stage that the words “international”, “multinational” or “global” are now rather outdated descriptions.
In fact “global” has replaced the other terms to all intents and purposes. “Foreign” marketing means marketing in an environment different from the home base, it’s basic form being “exporting”. Over time, this may evolve into an operating market rather than a foreign market. One such example is the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) in Eastern and Southern Africa where involved countries can trade inter-regionally under certain common modalities. Another example is the Cold Storage Company of Zimbabwe.