The Janus Face of International Marketing – Part 4 (Final)

It’s not personal. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, it is often said. But in international marketing, distance can also mean abdication of responsibility. Marketers sometimes clearly demonstrate their desire not to know—for example, by appointing a middleman about whose behavior one can later on be suitably astonished, surprised and mortified. As developing nations develop greater expectations of corporate social responsibility and create new legal requirements, irresponsible marketers may encounter a less tolerant face in host countries. Though the chairman of the multinational corporation may feel suitably removed from local issues, be assured that the locals take all of the firm’s actions very personally.

Whose idea is it anyway? As international marketers voraciously pursue opportunity, they will also encounter fierce local competition and instant copying of good ideas. Intellectual property rights violations, including counterfeiting, piracy and copyrights violations, are rampant in many parts of the developing world. These not only harm the international marketer but also the consumers who purchase defective products. Think of the consumer who needs treatment for a critical illness and receives a fake drug. Or consider the situation of Chinese passengers after the crash of high-speed trains, which were manufactured by Chinese companies with technology incompetently copied from Western companies. The government policy of “technology importation, digestive absorption, independent re-innovation and localization” rings hollow to the grieving families of crash victims.

We can use Janus as a god of contradictions and transitions, but we can not turn to him for guidance in morality, ethics or even law. International marketers will confront dilemmas and challenges. How well they pursue the conjunction of highly effective marketing and ethical practices will inevitably be reflected in the loyalty of customers and the judgment of host governments.

 

About the Authors

Michael Czinkota researches international marketing issues at Georgetown University and the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. He served in trade policy positions in the George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan administrations, and currently collaborates in a national export certification effort. Visit his blog at michaelczinkota.com . Charles Skuba teaches international business and marketing at Georgetown University. He served in the George W. Bush Administration in trade policy positions in the U.S. Department of Commerce. He may be reached at cjs29@georgetown.edu .

 

Fitting the Market, Unilever Customizes for India

Unilever saw an opportunity among low-income consumers in India who wanted to buy the company’s high-end detergents and personal care products, but could not afford them. The company responded by developing low-cost packaging and other options that allowed it to offer dramatically less expensive options. This flexibility not only opened a new market for the company, but also allowed it to develop brand loyalty that consumers could take with them when their income increased and they could afford higher-end products from the same manufacturer.

Regional norms have an impact on products such as detergent, too. For example, while in the U.S. people are accustomed to using both hot and cold water for laundry, some regions use only cold water and require detergents that will get clothing clean in those conditions.

 

This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.

Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 162.

Click HERE to acquire the full book.

Paying the Higher Price

We are all paying a higher price because of global terrorism– an issue identified by our Delphi study. As freedom suffers, so does international marketing. In most instances, terrorism is not an outgrowth of choice but rather a lack of it. Terrorists may succeed in reducing the freedom of other but not in increasing their own. Who is typically most affected by terrorist acts? Attacks aimed at businesses, such as the infamous bombings of  U.S. franchises abroad, do not bring big corporations to their knees. The local participants, the local employees, the local investors, and the local customers are affected the most.

Who can protect themselves against such attacks and who can afford to protect targets? Only the more wealthy countries and companies can. They have the choice of where to place their funds, with whom to trade, and whether to hold the enemy at bay through a security bubble created by changing business formats via exporting or franchising. The poor players do not have choices. The local businesses, the nations with economies in development, and the poor customers continue to be exposed to further acts of terrorism with very limited ability to influence events.

But international marketers can enable the disenfranchised to develop alternatives. Multinational firms can invest in the world’s poorest markets and reduce poverty while increasing their own revenue. With support from shareholders and the benefit of good governance, global marketers can, and should, continue in their role as social change agents. If it is worthwhile to fulfill the needs of large segments of people, even at low margins, then it will be done. International marketers want to create new customers and suppliers and they are delighted when, in the process, they can bring about freedom from extremes of hunger, sickness, and intolerance.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.

Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 235-236.

Click here to acquire the full book.