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A funny way to evaluate consumer behavior
There had been conflicting ideas among researches regarding the proper use of consumer oriented data and how marketers can effectively use them to achieve great results for their companies. Advertising as a part of an integrated marketing communication strategy has actually tried to make successful inroads into consumer minds for the last few decades. Now, how successful story it has been, is a debatable matter altogether. The question is whether or not you can sell an ice cream to an Eskimo? The critical factor which needs to be ascertained here is that whether or not the Eskimo will like the ice cream or will it give him a major shock. Now considering that he likes the ice cream and he accepts it, the next question will arise, that what flavor does he likes? Or in which shape and form will he accept the product more? Can he really afford the price at which you will sell the ice cream? These kinds of questions will become obvious once you are trying to close any deal. So in order to answer these questions, it is important to know the consumer well enough to place the product accordingly. Thus in order to sell an ice cream to the Eskimo, you need to know the “Eskimo”. Marketers over the years have failed many times while placing their product in foreign markets or unknown territory. Generally when a company starts manufacturing a product or setting up a service station, they respond to the needs and wants of the local market around them. This is quite obvious considering the fact that a company thinks about global expansion at a much later stage when it has already established a solid base in their domestic market.

Understanding the foreign markets always has been a tricky puzzle for the strategic marketing managers of firms. Sometimes in order to penetrate a lucrative foreign market the entire set of marketing mix needed to be changed and that is again a very difficult task as far as the company is concerned. Burger King faced such issues when it first entered the Japanese market. They never altered their product design or the price which made their venture to be a complete failure. The Japanese people were not ready to accept the lager sized burgers and moreover in order to maintain the same quality as in the United States; Burger King had to ask a price which even the Japanese consumers were not ready to pay. At the same time McDonald’s focused on introducing cheaper and smaller products which the Japanese consumers accepted quite readily. Thus here we can see when the market penetration level is not that deep, a company cannot compete on the basis of the product quality, but on the other hand the price becomes a determining factor. At that time the Japanese consumers were not ready to pay that high for a product which they were not that certain about. But gradually as now the Japanese economy has opened up and the culture is now much more Globalized, the taste and preferences changed. For that reason Burger King had made a new entry in the year 2007. The market is much more matured and the consumers now have the ability to distinguish quality, thus the price of the burgers does not seem to be the only factor determining the level of market penetration. Moreover Burger King has introduced few fast foods which are popular in the local markets of Japan in order to connect to the local culture.

Now the question is to what extent should a company mould its marketing mix in order to capture a foreign market? The threat of losing its brand identity and core values is always there. Thus it is important that some core aspects of the firm should be maintained all throughout the global outlets and branches which will help the consumers relate to the original brand. Starbucks for instance maintains the store d├ęcor and outlook constant in all their global outlets and this serves the purpose of the brand identity that it requires specially in a foreign territory. Whenever a consumer is stepping inside the store he or she should realize and feel that they are entering a Starbucks and not just another coffee shop. This makes the subject of studying global expansion strategy so interesting. The marketers should have the ability to understand the needs and wants of the domestic consumers and place their products accordingly, at the same time maintaining the core brand values that it is carrying from the country of origin. It is like introducing an existing brand culture to a different region while getting introduced to it and vice versa. This level of invisible communications actually makes a successful international marketing strategy. For that reason, in order to sell an ice cream to an Eskimo, it is not only important to know the Eskimo but at the same time you have to make sure that the Eskimo also starts knowing and understanding you well enough so that he will ask for another one after finishing off with the first ice cream.

But is it always such a focused effort? Or is it the advertisers should always focus more when their company is entering a new market? Isn’t a challenge itself to know the market in which the company existed? Isn’t it difficult for us to know the person we are living with? Ok! Now I am making it too deep to digest... Well the fact is that the easiest way to know the needs and the wants of the consumers is to make them believe that your product actually suits their need. That is what the global advertisers would like to say. Ten years back, there was no demand for i-pads, because it was yet to be invented. The constant innovation on the part of the electronic durable companies is what makes the perceptions of the consumers change so drastically.
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