Developing marketing strategies within your localised environment can be a task in of itself. It’s always vital to understand the people that you want to target and tailor your marketing to them.

This difficulty is magnified when attempting to take your marketing across international borders. The main issue to take into account is variations in culture. Too many brands have fallen foul of a lack of research or consideration.

There are a few areas which are important to bear in mind when adapting your strategies, and a few lessons that can be learned from other’s mistakes.

National generalisations

While generalisations are quite often something to be avoided in modern marketing, it is still possible to tailor campaigns to overarching national behaviours.

A handy example of this is the difference between the U.S. and Japan.

Audiences in the U.S. like to make purchasing decisions based upon how a product appeals to their sense of individualism and what it can do for them personally.

However, audiences in Japan have been found to be more likely to make purchasing decisions based on how a product will benefit groups, such as their family.

With broad trends like these in mind, it’s possible to at least begin to formulate a marketing strategy, or even in some cases develop one from start to finish, providing it’s considered enough.

National variations

Despite some overarching trends which can be co-opted, there are still cultural variations to consider, even within one set of borders.

One such variation falls along the line of wealth. For example, a wealthy consumer will likely have a different set of cultural values than a less wealthy consumer.

Other variations would include factors such as whether the target consumer lives in a city or the countryside, or even which part of the country they live in. Urbanites will likely have a different set of values to someone who lives very rural.

England provides an ideal example of regional differences, with those residing in the North, Midlands, South and East having varying sets of cultural differences and idiosyncrasies.

Gender stereotyping

As society progresses, less and less importance is being placed upon the differences between men and women. As such, marketing campaigns that rely on this increasingly outdated trope may not perform as well as they have done previously.

In fact, there is a trend towards the opposite. Many companies are making smart use of this societal advancement and are making moves to advocate it.

This has become an increasingly popular technique within the beauty and toiletries industry. A prime example of this is Unilever. With their call for brands to join the Unstereotype Alliance for a more progressive approach to marketing, they were quickly joined by big names such as Facebook and Google.

Manifestations of this approach can be seen in advertisements such as Gillette’s ‘The best a man can be’ campaign, aimed at breaking down traditional ideas surrounding masculinity and attacking toxic masculinity.

Slang, idioms and folklore

An often-forgotten issue is national or local slang and idioms. This can often be a kind of two-stage process when adapting your marketing to an international audience.

For example, if you were running a campaign in your existing domestic market, you’d want to examine the copy to ensure that it didn’t contain any nation-specific slang. Once you’d done this, you may then want to go a step further and implement the use of slang specific to the new region you’re looking to target.

Making use of another nation’s slang carries its own risks though, as getting it wrong can make you come across as ‘uncool’ or weird.

The cousin to slang and idioms is folklore. A prime example of this is Pampers with their imagery of a stork carrying a baby. This myth is only prevalent in western cultures, so when Pampers exported their brand to Japan, it left the Japanese confused.

In Japanese culture there is a similar myth, only involving a giant, floating peach and a boy named Momotaro. The adaptation of marketing style in this case is simple; it just requires knowledge of the target audience’s culture.

 

Marketing to different cultures is primarily an issue of research and cultural sensitivity. The one flaw to be avoided at all costs is thinking that because your marketing strategy worked in one place that it will work in another.

The best port of call here is to make use of dedicated marketing professionals who can conduct the proper research on your behalf … like us!

Get in touch with Formation today to see what we can do for you.