Entering global markets is can be a large shift in brand strategies for mature brands. The event opened the door to the conversation by explore ones understanding of the culture your brand was trying to reach. Brands need to consider that their brand equity at home will not count or transfer at all into the next global market. Having a brand or launching a new brand that is not known may be a better starting point vs. any negative perceptions foreign cultures may have of corporate identities abroad. In either case there is a large chasm of trust to be crossed. Many cultural studies focus on basics of symbols, colors, and general beliefs. While these are critical starting points to begin to understand the differences in cultural values and perceptions it only scratches the surface of understand the marketing landscape. In many countries the conversation about foreign brands has been underway for quite some time. Regardless of any accuracy, foreign stakeholders have been driving the conversation and setting the tone. Historical stigmas of imperial exploration and colonization still linger in the cultural concision of the population. Modern day corporate greed splashes across daily headline. Foreign policies create unfair playing fields for market competition. So how does a brand overcome global challenges such as these?
Lets look at three separate areas of activities that can all help drive traction of a brand across cultural and political boundaries:
1: Brand goals and life cycle
Your brand goals and market position in your primary market will not be the same for the emerging market. Even a market leader may not be dominate in a new market, even if existing offerings are inferior. Quality and reputation have to be earned and not transferred. Positioning with a competitive differentiators may seem like an attack on national corporations and interests. The opportunity here is to develop positioning that relates to increase of value to the market’s business and consumers daily lives. Both products and services will have to be offered with an exemplary level of service and support. Customer service, at its highest form, can build relationship and understanding on both sides. Realize that the brand will have to go through many transitions as it gains awareness, acceptance, and ultimately desirability.
2: Capability development
Look to develop Strategic Alliances around building all capabilities in the region for the product and distribution of your offerings. While large corporations clearly have the financial and physical assets to develop their own supply chain, transportation, manufacturing, etc. This can actually create a barrier for the brand acceptance. Partnering with local brands actually drives broader economic benefit to the region by also helping other companies prosper. These collaborative actions can bring jobs to the area, opportunities to your partners and be seen as helping the overall community and genuine good business.
3: Collaboration in brand building
Creating a Joint Venture with a well established and trusted brands as part of their portfolio. Help your in region partner grow and grow your brand as a companion. While similar to the tactical partnerships mentioned in #2 above. This is looking at a more strategic level of alliances in the region. In many cases, acceptance, growth, and long-term sustainability is more likely and readily achieved by becoming a part of a larger portfolio of offerings of other trusted brands. While this may not be the fasted road to market dominance, it may be one of the only viable and affordable paths to sustain over time. The association with a regional brand my increase your ability to gain traction in the region.
Many of these strategies are based on partnership, collaboration and co-opition models. While presented in a context of using these methods to enter new or emerging markets, these practices will ultimately come full circle and make large brands in established markets think differently about what it means to build brand equity in terms of their relationship to the customer and in terms of contribution in the overall ecosystem of partners and governments. In a hyper connected world of the internet and social media, the future of brand building lies closer to a brands actions and investment in the ecosystem vs. simply its words.
In future blog posts I will move into these three activities in more detail taking lessons and learnings directly from client engagements I have been involved in as they moved into emerging markets, analyzed new ecosystems, and build strategic alliances and capabilities through joint ventures.
Event Experience: The event was widely attended by marketers and agencies. The case studies covered in this event where a series of classic cases of early brand penetrations globally such as Coke from some time ago. The faculty focus looked at basic cultural aspects of understanding language, symbols, colors, etc. Its treatment lacked depth overall and the questions from the audience drove quickly exceeded the content provide. The best value came from the interesting dialogue between the participates of practitioners during the open Q&A.