This study analyses three key global marketing communication patterns and how they affect the consumer. It looks at how standardized campaigns, which do not conform to the customer at all, can be employed, and also looks at how its opposite the adapted campaign, which changes for every market, can do the same. The study also analyses the compromised campaign, which is a combination of the two and have many advantages and disadvantages.
The study is formed by way of three key questions that assess different applications of the above campaigns. The first looks at three firms: McDonald’s, Kellogg’s and HSBC Bank – that it is believed fit the hypothesis of a standardized, adapted and compromised campaign. These firms are then put through McCarthy’s marketing mix to assess if this is true. The study confirms that all of the campaigns fit the hypothesis but that every company does diversify their campaign to compromise slightly in a bid to fit into their market accordingly.
The second section looks at how cultural values can affect businesses attempts at breaking into a new market. It employs the example of McDonald’s attempts to move outlets into Japan. This section looks at cultural arguments and the advantages of adaptation, and concludes that its McDonald’s refusal to conform to culture and instead promote its Western values in an essentially Eastern setting made it a success.
Finally the youth market is covered as the study confirms that it is an extremely important area of business. This response covers the Collectivism vs. Individualism debate and concludes that standardized campaigns are successful in the children’s market because they appeal to the collectivist nature of teenagers.
The study concludes that all of the campaigns fitted the expected hypotheses; however there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to each, and the accepted standpoint that a business must conform to some type of campaign is questioned. Overall, the study suggests that a business will be more successful in the global marketplace if it compromises its strategy to employ the best advantages of all the campaigns and appeal to the customer, who cannot be pigeonholed as easily by theories.
This study aim to establish exactly how the standardized, adapted and compromised marketing communication campaigns can be applied to various different situations, and analyse how all three are employed to fully promote a product, integrate a standardised product into a new market, and what the advantages and disadvantages are of using the campaigns when promoting products to children.
1. The three selected firm’s promotional campaigns will be put through McCarthy’s marketing mix. (From which source did you get this theory?)
Czinkota argues that: “Altering and adjusting the marketing mix elements are essential and vital to suit local tastes, meet special needs and consumers non-identical requirements.” (1999: 110) This section of the study will attempt to analyse how each firm selected fulfills the components of McCarthy’s marketing mix (1965) in a bid to establish if McDonald’s is a standardized promotional campaign; Kellogg’s is adapted, HSBC bank’s promotional tactics can be classified as a hybrid strategy of the two.
What are the advantages / disadvantages of going ahead with a globalised campaign in a cultural market?
This section will assess how some globalised campaigns can crack the “cultural” market. It will employ McDonald’s attempts to break into the Japanese market with a global campaign in a bid to assess the advantages and disadvantages this can display.
What are the advantages / disadvantages of promoting a standardized or an adapted campaign to a youth market?
Children are one of the fastest growing markets in the world, equating a third of the world’s spending population (1998: Beder: 110) This section aims to assess which type of campaign would be more successful in this market, and what the advantages / disadvantages are. It will also employ collectivism vs. individualism and the AIDA consumer model to support the argument.
Gordon argues that advertising is derived from the classic behaviourist learning theory, and that it is, in essence, a form of communication. (2006:2) This study aims to assess how that communication, when manifested in different advertising formats, attracts the consumer to the campaign or to the product itself.
When conducting an advertising campaign on an international level, a company can undertake one of three tactics when marketing a product: a standardized campaign, an adapted campaign, or a compromised campaign. The standardized method involves using a tried and tested campaign to market the product, keeping the same tactic when marketing to every new country. Medina defines it as: “the offering of identical products at identical prices, through an identical distribution system, supported by identical, promotional programmes in several different countries.” (1998: 233) Standardization is often a popular form of advertising for luxury goods such as designer clothing or cars.
Adaptation is so called as the campaign is “adapted” to its environment. With the rapid expansion into new and foreign markets, some businesses choose to look further into the cultural background of a market before it begins to promote the product. The American Marketing Association defines it as: “The strategy of developing new products by modifying and improving on product innovations of others, or an adjustment to environmental conditions,” (http://www.marketingpower.com/mg-dictionary-view2558.php)
Thirdly, both of these strategies can be combined to provide a compromised campaign. Defined as: “tailoring the product to the special and unique needs of the customer, each buyer is potentially a unique segment,” (Ibid.) Compromising allows the campaign to harness the same basic strategy but is slightly more focused on the customer and their cultural background. This form of campaign is most common when marketing a product to untapped markets such as Japan. Part of a culture fiercely rooted in tradition; there are many colours, customs and designs that cannot be employed in a Japanese marketing campaign as they represent death. Conversely, many firms that employ sex-related images in marketing (such as some “high-end” fashion houses) have found they have to change the image of the woman in the Japanese campaign as the object of desire to look more blonde, more Westernised, such is the Japanese obsession with the purity of its women.
When promoting a product to a new market a firm must also consider aspects of the marketing mix. Also known as “The four P’s,” – Product, Price, Place, Promotion -McCarthy’s marketing mix looks at how a product can be placed into a new market. Recent developments have added extra elements to the original model, such as Jones and Vignali’s theory of “the 7 P’s” – adding:
- Physical Evidence: Tangible outcomes of the campaign such as empirical sales data.
- Participants: Outside actors who may affect the campaign, such as outside advertising agencies of funding bodies.
- Process: Focusing on the key workings of the actual campaign.
In addition to this, the authors add an ‘S’ to signify Service, which they argue is now a key factor in every firm’s marketing mix. However, this theory has many critics (Czinkota, Kanso) who all have their own individual theories and additions to the formula. Therefore, in a bid to avoid confusion, this study will employ the traditional marketing mix to keep the methodology more streamlined and succinct.
To begin with, “product” looks at how the product appeals to the target, covering factors such as:
- How the brand name is interpreted in the market,
- The functionality of the product,
- Quality, safety, and warranty,
- How the packaging appeals to the target market,
- The accessories and services available for the product.
Pricing strategies can vary depending on the market. Although the product itself may stay standardized and unchanged when aimed at a specific market, a varied world economy means the pricing strategy for a new market may have to be changed. Pricing strategy also covers:
- Pricing during the campaign, such as skimming or penetration pricing, which involves saturating the market with cheaper products to overcome the competition.
- Discounts – will a discount be offered as part of promoting the new product?
- Seasonal pricing. This is particularly apparent with products such as garden furniture or gifts specifically aimed at the festive or occasion market.
“Placing” is displayed within the marketing mix as the distribution of the product. In terms of a global campaign, this can be particularly important in ensuring the correct market coverage. “Placing” within the marketing mix also covers:
- Inventory Management
- Order Processing
- Suppliers. In the case of some standardized campaigns, this will also include creating a “uniform environment” for the supplier, ensuring every manufacturer for the company is exactly alike to create the impression of a streamlined and branded firm.
The key factor within the marketing mix, promotion allows all aspects of the product to come together in a bid to communicate the brand’s message to the public. Promotion assesses how various elements of marketing can be employed, such as the Push/Pull theory, which either involves direct selling to the customer to create a demand (Push) or building on a niche demand to make the product desirable to a specific market (Pull). The Push/Pull theory is important to consider when mounting a global campaign, and selecting between globalised and standardized options. “Promotion” also covers:
- Personal Selling
- Public Relations
- Setting a marketing budget
Although the marketing mix is not exhaustive, it allows all aspects of promoting the product to a new market to be considered before choosing a format for the advertising campaign. But it is only one of many models which should be considered when launching a new product at a target market. Various methods can be employed in choosing a campaign that will communicate an effective method to the consumer, but the firm must also consider a number of variables in ascertaining if the standardized (in essence more global) campaign will be more successful for the product than the adapted (essentially local) campaign. Although in theory a compromised method would incorporate the best elements of the two, this is not always a feasible option in every case of promotion.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to both standardized and adapted campaigns. This study will attempt to ascertain these points have affected the promotion and the placement of three specific products or brands. Three firms have been selected for meeting the individual criteria of a standardized, an adapted, and a compromised campaign. However, it should be noted that the brief will not attempt to distinguish if the product could be termed “successful,” as this could lead to a myriad of problems involving the empirical analysis of sales data. Instead, it will employ models of communication that will look further into consumer buying traits and how specific forms of advertising can prove to be effective on the target market.
For the purposes of this study, the three brands selected are:
- Kellogg’s Breakfast Cereals
- HSBC Banking Services Read
1: The three selected firm’s promotional campaigns will be put through McCarthy’s marketing mix.
McDonald’s has more than 24,500 restaurants in 116 countries – ranging from Bahrain to Guatemala to Poland. (www.mcdonalds.com)
It should be noted that the restaurants themselves are highly standardized so as to be recognized by customers all over the world. The Golden Arches, the McDonald’s slogan “I’m lovin’ it,” and the layout of each restaurant (plastic, consumable / thrown away) all go towards creating a recognizable brand image for the customer. Pae argues this is crucial for a global firm such as McDonald’s, which can capitalize on the traveling customer who may buy the product all over the world (177: 2002). It is also a key element in the standardized advertising strategy.
In terms of wide-spread location, the standardized nature of every McDonald’s outlet allows, as Porter argues: “For co-ordinating its marketing units around the world to receive an early warning of industry changes by spotting trends.”(1990: 59) In terms of distribution, which McCarthy argues is the true definition of the “Place” element of the mix, Love writes that McDonald’s have gone some way to ensure the standardization of the firm’s production and distribution chain, “Americanizing” every production and distribution outlet. (1987: 320)
Vignali argues: “One of the aims of McDonald’s is to create a standardized set of items that taste the same whether in Singapore, Spain or South Africa.” (2001: 100) And yet although the fries, milkshakes and soft drinks remain essentially the same universally, Vignali further argues: “although the idea is to promote McDonald’s as a global image, McDonald’s focuses on the needs of the communities they are entering.” (Ibid.) As a result, various diverse items can be found on company menus throughout the world. For example in Thailand, McSpaghetti Noodles are available, the first vegetarian burger was piloted in India, and the Fillet O’ Fish in the UK was designed with the British fish and chips in mind.
One of the key elements the firm has taken into account is the religious practices brought into account both in the consumption of food and food preparation. As Waller argues: “geography is not always a major determinant of attitudes, but religious and historical factors play a very important role.” (2005: 111) Here, religion proved to be a crucial factor, and one without which the products would clearly have been unsuccessful. For example, in the company’s Malaysian and Singapore branches, Muslim clerics will regularly give the outlet a thorough inspection to ensure food preparation meets with strict halal regulations. This all goes towards building a substantial ethical image for the product, which is often particularly difficult for a capitalized, globalised brand. However on the whole it should be noted as Vignali writes: “Irrespective of variations and recent additions, the structure of the McDonald’s menu remains essentially uniform the world over.” (2001: 101)
Despite a generally standardized stance, Vignali argues: “McDonald’s implementation of its pricing strategy is one of localization rather than globalisation.” (2001: 101) Marketed as an essentially cheap product, undoubtedly the ultimate goal of what could be seen as an aggressive pricing strategy (a hamburger from the nearest competitor Burger King costs double that of a McDonald’s product) is to increase market share, but as Melewar argues: “To focus on cost reduction is to ignore the target group’s need for a meaningful message.” (2004: 868) In contrast to this argument, the firm has adjusted its pricing strategy to encompass a growing global market and various economies of scale. For example, a Big Mac and fries in America would cost a worker in Chicago the equivalent of 14 minutes earnings. Conversely, in Lagos, Nigeria, the same meal would cost a worker 11 hours and 23 minutes earnings. (Vignali: 2001) Therefore, the company has positioned the product accordingly in Nigeria as a “luxury” product, which is accentuated by the Western and unobtainable image the firm provides.
Promotion is crucial to McDonald’s as Love argues that the company’s vision was: “They wanted to sell hamburgers the way Miller sells beer.” (1987: 305) In terms of target market and Unique Selling Point, the firm decided early they would select three different target markets that would be susceptible to promotion.
- Children: Attracted by the ‘fun’ element with toys, characters, and a play area available at many outlets.
- Parents: Attracted to the budget nature and ease of planning of a McDonalds visit.
- Young Adults: Attracted to the selection and choice on offer.
For the benefit of this study, the firm’s “I’m lovin’ it” television campaign has been selected. So-called after the musical “I’m lovin’ it” strap line, Love argues it was these “soft-sell TV ads [that were] the key to doubling in-store volumes in five years.” (1987: 311) Today the firm appears to rely on the power of celebrity, a method employed to maximum effect recently when US singer Justin Timberlake fronted the “I’m lovin’ it” campaign. An ideal positioning for all markets Timberlake’s endorsement allowed for the brand to be propelled even further to the forefront of the market, and demonstrated to full effect the brand’s favoured integrated marketing communication (IMC) methods. Described as a concept that is: “A planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.,” Pitta argues that: “a finely crafted IMC effort can influence target audiences that would otherwise be unreachable.” (2006: 156) In the case of McDonald’s, “I’m lovin’ it” was a prime example of IMC. New packaging was produced which displayed the slogan in a number of different languages (to emphasise the “global” approach) as well as the introduction of restaurant promotions, smaller TV spots that involved showing the product rather than the people, simply supplying the logo and the strap line, as well as new products and internal marketing to emphasis “new energy in the company” The move aided McDonald’s most recent shift into global standardization, and also, as Pitta argues: “shows that IMC is versatile and effective.” (2006: 157).
Kellogg’s is the largest ready to eat cereal manufacturer in the world, producing 1 billion kilos of cereal for 160 countries each year. (2001: Vignali: 115) In a bid to globalise the brand, the manufacturing of the product has been “standardized all over the world, giving it a uniform and unique taste across the global market.” (2001: 115) Indeed, as a whole, the main problem the firm appears to have found with the product is not issues with standardizing or reforming distribution or production, it has been that: “The traits, habits and norms in terms of importance of breakfast are quite different [throughout the world] and had to be outlined before the product was introduced.” (1990: Czinkota: 86)
Vingali argues that “Certain aspects of the marketing mix have been standardized but not all due to the fact that Kellogg’s have to differentiate in line with market requirements.” (2001: 128) In the case of Kellogg’s attempts to market their dry cereals throughout the world it was clear that the campaign would have to be adapted as the food was practically unheard of, particularly in markets such as India, a country far more used to eating hot breakfasts. Indeed, Vignali goes on to claim that: “Kellogg’s adjusted their development strategies in merging Asian markets to better respond to local taste preferences.” (2001: 115) The firm itself confirms this theory by claiming that their advertising strategies tend to be: “more locally based to meet the different cultural needs, as markets across can vary enormously.” (www.kelloggs.co.uk) In the past the firm had employed armies of casual labourers and Boy Scouts to knock on doors all over the UK and hand out free samples in a bid to get the customer interested in the product (Ibid). However, now they were faced with attempting to saturate foreign markets with a previously unheard of product. A key example of the strategy employed was Brazil. Researchers for Kellogg’s studied Brazilian and indeed South American culture, something Czinkota suggests, claiming: “The most sensitive types of products such as consumer package goods require consumer usage and attitude studies,”(1990: 76) and found that one of the most popular elements of South American culture was telenovela soap operas. By using product placement the brand ensured the characters on the telenovela ate cereal for breakfast, thus ingraining the image of a well-known actor or actress promoting the product in the viewers mind.
Vignali writes that: “The pricing of goods performs a strategic role in Kellogg’s business functions as a consequence of intense global competition and the opportunity to strengthen market position.” (2001: 117) It is true that the firm’s pricing strategy is set at a higher standard and rarely differs from the norm, conforming to the standard price in every market, which it would appear attempts to create the image of a high-class product. However, this is likely due to the fact that as market leaders, certainly in countries where an adapted campaign was employed, brands such as Cornflakes, have never had a need to differentiate. Indeed, the biggest competition Cornflakes is likely to face is from another Kellogg’s brand (www.kelloggs.co.uk) As a result, the price is constant, the product is seen as respected, and continues to be the market leader.
In standardizing both the product and the pricing strategy, firm also had to standardize the distribution chains. Indeed, the firm itself claims that: “All aspects of production, logistics and finance are organised on a pan-European basis, giving substantial economies of scale” (www.kelloggs.co.uk). To this end, the company can develop its markets across the world, capitalizing on differing employment legislation, but can also keep an eye on prospective developing markets. In this sense, the firm would appear to take advantage of standardized global distribution chains, whilst employing elements of adapted tactics for promotion.
In conclusion, the above analysis of the marketing mix shows that McDonald’s does indeed mount standardized promotional campaigns. Indeed as Love argues: “What is more surprising than the scope of its success abroad is that McDonald’s cracked the international market with more or less the same formula it had perfected in the States.” (1987: 419) Despite this however, it has diversified slightly in term so product to adapt to notoriously difficult areas, such as Israel or Japan. However, this conforms to the findings of Harris et al, who found that 11% of global companies were totally standardized across Europe, but had had to diversify for area such as the Middle East. (2003: 161) It also finds that Kellogg’s do indeed subscribe to an adapted tactic of promotion, despite employing highly standardized methods of production, distribution and pricing. However, the firm has exploited the adapted communication strategy to its fullest, allowing for an expansion in the market that would have been completely unobtainable through a globalised promotional campaign.
With 9,500 international offices in more than 76 countries, HSBC is part of an international network. This is largely due to the fact that the business is no longer specifically located in one place. With the advent of telephone and internet banking, instead the focus is more on the service itself rather than a location. It is to this end that the firm ensures they employ elements of “relationship marketing,” which allows for a loyal customer service base to be built up. Gronroos argues that: “In relationship marketing the solution is the relationship itself and how it functions and leads to value creation and need satisfaction for the customer.” (2002:103) The advantages of this are that the customer feels values and needed. However, in terms of actual location, the firm does face a disadvantage if it continues to evolve entirely this way, as customers often favour one-to-one customer care.
HSBC offer a number of services to the customer that focus on current accounts, student accounts, graduate accounts and business accounts, as well as a wide range of mortgage offers. Beginning as an international firm of sorts by financing trade between China and Europe in the 1860s, HSBC appeals largely to the business customer in its global operations. This is particularly prominent in its “World’s Local Bank” campaign, which informs customers that the firm can trust in its “local” knowledge. Some advertisements even specifically targeted the business customer claiming that they can benefit from HSBC’s cultural knowledge in the global marketplace. Kanso argues this is an advisable tactic for a firm operating within the tertiary sector, claiming: “Culture appears to play a greater role in services than in merchandise trade because service promotion involves more frequent people-to-people contacts.” (2004:212)
The firm does not have a pricing strategy as such. As a service sector it does not need to employ aggressive pricing tactics in a bid to appeal to the customer, but instead must ensure that it builds up a loyal customer base that will continue to use the firm for all its financial needs in the future. If a customer holds a current account with HSBC, then takes out a personal loan on which they pay interest and in the future goes to the bank for a mortgage it is here that the firm will make their money.
Porter argues that: “A banks reputation, customer base and physical assets in one nation, has little or no impact in its success in consumer banking in other nations.” (1990: 53) Therefore, it is crucial that a firm marketing a service such as HSBC, does not undertake wholly standardized campaign, as it will be almost impossible to appeal to every type of customer.
In 1999, after operating as a number of differently named firms globally, HSBC formed to establish a “uniform, international, brand name,” conforming in a bid to make the company easier to promote. (www.hsbc.com) In 2002, the firm launched “The World’s Local Bank” campaign, defined as: “a campaign to differentiate the brand from competitors by describing the unique characteristics that distinguish HSBC.” (Ibid) Conducting adverts that capitalize on the differences between various different cultures and how they can be misunderstood and misinterpreted, the strap line “Local Bank” adapted the campaign to a cultural customer, and yet still gave the impression that the firm was a global entity to customers, as HSBC itself states: “consumers want to be targeted as individual, and feel that companies care about them.” (Ibid) Yet it was still launched as a global campaign, with a conformed ideal and targeted at 81 countries. Therefore, it could be argued that as a hybrid of the two the firm has managed to establish the beginnings of a compromised marketing campaign.
Yip argues: “there are a vast number of issues where companies can choose to have a globally integrated strategy and others on which they can continue to take a locally focused approach,” (1996: 18) however he does not suggest that the two can be combined. In some cases, the move can prove to be highly beneficial, as although some cultures may have certain similarities (such as religion or belief systems) few can be termed exactly the same. The main advantage of compromise, as Porter argues, is that: “The compromise school…not only recognizes local differences, but also that some degree of advertising standardization is not only possible but desirable.” (1990: 867) In other words, a standardized campaign can prove to be successful in a new culture, but some changes must be made in order to penetrate the market effectively. Indeed, this section of the study has concluded that not only is compromised marketing beneficial, it concludes that the two other promotional campaigns employed for this analysis have also incorporated elements of compromise.
2: What are the advantages / disadvantages of going ahead with a globalised campaign in a cultural market?
Waller argues that: “As globalization and the advantages of standardized promotional program increases the potential to offend people will also increase.” (2005: 11) this argument is true in so much as in today’s modern globalised society, there are still a number of cultures that do not conform to the “Westernised” ideal of some societies. It is worth noting however, that these cultures are often a form of untapped market, and that industries should be aware of the fact that ‘tapping into’ that market could offer them a wealth of financial and distribution opportunities. To do this however, some firms must take on a different approach to the standardized marketing campaign.
As an example of how a globalised campaign can attempt to transfer Western values onto the “cultural” customer, this study will employ the example of the McDonalds fast food chain’s attempts to crack the notoriously difficult market in the Far East and Japan.
Promoted as part of the adaptation school of marketing, Lewis argues that: “By focusing on cultural roots of national behaviour both in society and business, we can calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to out plans for them.” (1996: 2) this theory is supported by Pae, who claims: “the influence of culture is particularly important in transferring advertising strategy across borders, because communication patterns are closely linked to cultural norms.” (2002: 177) It is undoubtedly that knowledge of the consumer and the cultural background in which they operate is crucial. With the advent of globalised firms with globalised values, markets such as Japan and Asia who have previously been closed to such penetrative and heavily standardized tactics, take: “Knowing the customer’ is taking very seriously.” (1990: Porter: 48)
Many firms have ploughed through to new markets with aggressive tactics, and have encountered problems. One bank famously went ahead with its advertising campaign in China, which displayed the company logo in green. They made no consultations or investigations as to cultural background, and only found out at the last minute that the colour green in China is closely associated with death and therefore avoided at all costs. The firm in question lost an excessive amount of money by mounting a campaign that suddenly had to be halted, and has resolutely steered clear of blindly embarking on a new market ever since (Despite reforming their logo and promotional material to omit the colour green, the company has still only ever enjoyed very moderate success in China -1990: Czinkota: 88) Following this, it is key that a firm intending to embark on a venture in a new market (particularly one that displays different cultural values) take certain factors into account. For example:
- Language: many firms have to change the wording of their advertising catch lines in a bid to allow them to translate properly. This is particularly true with advertisements that use humour.
- Customs: As with the above story concerning the bank, it is worth noting that many country’s particularly those in the East, will have a deeply entrenched sense of traditional values in terms of colours and actions. This is also true in the service (tertiary) sector. Countries such as Japan, China, and Korea highly value punctuality.
- Legislation: As much as it can be unexpected, legislation in different countries can appear in the most unassuming forms. For example, were a lingerie firm, or a company promoting alcohol or tobacco to launch a campaign in Malaysia, they must first ensure that they check the country’s Advertising Code for Television and Radio which states the women in Malaysian advertising must be portrayed as having “good behavior acceptable to local culture and society” (Ministry of Information: 1990: 7). It is to this end, that firms promoting items such as underwear have not attempted to look further into the Malaysian market. (2005: Waller: 10)
As a whole, in the adapted campaign, the customer is seen as the focus, and the type of consumer who will not purchase an item if it goes against his/her cultural values or beliefs. But although the argument for the culturally-orientated campaign is highly viable and completely reasonable, over the past two decades, increasing standards of globalization has managed to blur the lines of what “culture” may stand for somewhat. De Mooij argues that cultural values in themselves are more a question of economic power than of deep- rooted cultural backgrounds. She argues that the simple reason some goods are misunderstood and ignored is not due to a widely different cultural status, but instead due to economies of scale, arguing: “When people possess more or less enough of everything, they will spend their income on what most fits their value pattern.” (2000: 110) in other words, she claims that because many Western items enter the market with the same expensive standardised pricing strategy they have used before, the product may be too expensive for a customer in a poorer country to be able to try it.
Following de Mooij’s theory therefore, were every culture able to afford the item easily, it is more likely that standardized campaigns would be a success in previously unobtainable markets. Buzzell supports this argument also, suggesting too much emphasis is placed on the need to conform to cultural values. He also suggests that businesses are too quick to blame cultural differences if their product or service is not a success, claiming: “If cultural differences are assumed to have an influence, culture is seen as a convenient catchall for the market structures and behaviour that cannot readily be explained.” (1968: 110)
Svensson argues “Every culture has its opposing values. Markets are people, not products.” (2002: 575) But in terms of service, culture is extremely important, as “culture appears to play a greater role in services than in merchandise trade because service promotion involves more frequent people-to-people contacts.” (2004: 212) Therefore the following attempts to analyse the moves by McDonald’s, which is not only the provider of a product but also a service, to appeal to a new and previously unknown cultural market by employing a standardized campaign.
Previous analysis of the firm’s fulfillment of the marketing mix has established the company in general does conform to a standardized campaign, but such a campaign can prove to be problematic when attempting to establish the firm in countries such as Asia. The area is undoubtedly a key market for any business attempting to branch out globally. But, as Moon claims: “Asia is really a series of localized markets with their own characteristics including different economic and cultural settings due to historical effects.” (2005: 49) keeping this factor in mind, Kanso argues: “to minimize potential advertising blunders, American firms should consider each foreign business opportunity as a unique challenge.” (2004: 204) McDonald’s did take these factors into account in theory when it attempted to break into the Japanese market, but did not display them in practice by adapting the campaign. Instead the firm took the advice of its Japanese partner Den Fujita, and, as Love argues: “took aim at a far more illusive but potentially more rewarding target: image.” (1987: 305) With the guidance of Fujita, McDonalds instead promoted the company as the All-American firm – an image that it hoped the Japanese customer would aspire to. With the traditional, 1950s diner-style setting, the original staff outfits that involved pinstripe shirts and overalls, and crucially, the cheap, throwaway nature of the food, McDonald’s had always maintained a uniquely American image. Indeed as Love argues: “The quick service food was uniquely American. Hamburgers and fries were an integral part of American culture but they were not mass marketed in most countries.” (1987: 418)
Following Tomlinson’s theory that: “Imported cultural goods somehow contain the values of American consumer capitalism and offer an implicit interpretation of the good life.” (1991: 44) Fujita set about marketing the firm to the Japanese. Settling for a smaller niche outlet in the Fujii Daimaru shopping mall populated by Japanese food stores, Fujita ensured customers were aware of the fact a Japanese businessman was running an American branch, but crucially, he then set about touring universities around the country and making purposely outrageous statements such as: “the reason the Japanese are so short and have yellow skin is because they have eaten nothing but fish and rice for the past 2000 years. If we eat McDonald’s hamburgers and potatoes we will become taller, our skin will become white and we will become blonde.”
Although the speeches were completely unfounded and preposterous, they created an interest in the product previously unprecedented. The tactic undoubtedly tapped into an obsession with the Westernised looks and ideals that appear to support Tomlinson’s argument that products and services linked to America are somehow revered. After all, America is the world’s number one exporter of entertainment – the world’s biggest music stars are American, as are the world’s biggest movie stars, and both have been employed at some time or another to promote the McDonald’s product.
This does however bring into question the feasibility of the image as a communication method in advertising. As a whole, this study would argue that McDonald’s has capitalized on exporting an ‘Americana’ image. Lewis argues this may be due to the fact that: “American characteristics [are seen as] the biggest, therefore the best,” (1996: 110)
This study does not attempt to analyse why exporting the image of Americana to an Asian market was quite so successful on a cultural level, as this would involve in-depth analysis of thousands of years of Eastern cultural texts, but it does conclude that as a whole, the “all-American” image was used to appeal to the Japanese consumer because in terms of global markets, “Bigger is often better – and America is the biggest.” (Lewis: 1996: 110) It also finds that as a whole, large-scale, particularly American firms such as McDonald’s, instead of being forced to ignore their globalised Western status, can often use this very standardization to their advantage. As Peterson argues: “there was no need to create entirely new and different advertisements for every market, but that the American version of the advertisement should be adapted to prevailing conditions in the market abroad.” (1993: 29) And with 3,000 stores now open in the country – triple that of the amount in the Westernised UK
3: What are the advantages / disadvantages of promoting a standardized or an adapted campaign to a youth market?
Marketing campaigns do not have to appeal to children, or in turn the youth market, but there are a number of advantages for those that do. Largely because, as Beder argues: “of the amount of money they spend themselves, the influence they have on their parents spending (the nag factor) and because of the money they will spend when they grow up.” (1998: 101) Indeed, as Love claims in his study of McDonalds, “[the company] appealed to children – McDonald’s most obvious market segment and the easiest to attract.” (1987: 303) The key to appealing to children within a successful globalised campaign appears to be advertising heavily on television. As Byrd-Bredbenner claims: “Children spend a vast proportion of their waking hours watching TV,” (2002: 59) and she further goes on to claim that: “Frequent TV watching may also influence youngsters eating behaviours in many ways including food purchases.” (Ibid.) Through the research carried out in this study, it has been proved that as a rule, the most heavily promoted television campaigns are often standardized, from a globalised company. It is often true that they are more heavily promoted in the West. This is not just a generalization gleaned from the companies selected for this study, but instead may be as Vignali argues, for the simple reason that: “Media availability is a key issue. One in two people in the USA has a TV; in India it is less than one in 50.” (124: 2001)
This does not mean that the younger consumer will automatically be drawn to a standardized campaign, but Beder argues: “Children begin to ask for things that they see and make connections between television advertising and store contents.” (1998: 108) Indeed, she goes on to establish that: “Modern children can often recognise brands and status items by the age of three or four.” (Ibid) To this end, this study does not attempt to discriminate, and here assesses how the standardized campaign, compares with that of an adapted promotional strategy that focuses more on customer values and what may appeal personally to the child. The following analysis of Lewis’ AIDA model of consumer and buying behaviour and look at how the campaign communicates the product to the youth market and how it may be interpreted:
First, it must be established what AIDA is designed to interpret. An acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, AIDA was designed to assess the hierarchy of effects the consumer is said to experience when attracted by a product. It aims to assess how different campaigns or products can appeal to the target market.
Attention: The attention is attracted either by a well-known image (Pae: 2002) or by a message that is specific to the consumer. This could be in terms of price, or product or in fact image, but as Pugh argues, if a firm do not outline the key attributes of their product: “the consumer is ‘forced’ to lean on previously held beliefs and perceptions.” (46: 1999) For adapted marketing, the attraction stage is extremely important, as it has to display elements that will appeal directly to the target audience.
Interest: In an adapted campaign tends to involve more information targeted at the consumer. The benefit of this is that the consumer then feels as if the campaign is targeted directly at them. In terms of the youth market, this goes some way to individualizing the consumer, and in some cases, for example when a child or teenager has a particular hobby or interest, this can be extremely beneficial.
Desire: Occurs when the customer decides they want something. In the case of the children’s/youth market, there is a crucial difference in that the younger demographic is not in a position to go out and actively purchase the item due to financial or geographical constraints.
Action: Occurs when the consumer takes action to buy the product. Pricing is key here as, in the youth market the advertiser must distinguish if they aim for the product to be bought by children and teenagers (perhaps aged 10 and over – in which case the item should be reasonably priced to be able to be affordable in the market) or younger children (10 and under).
Attention: The attention is attracted by either a well-known image that is recognized by the consumer, or by the style and image of the advertisement. This could mean that the ad is bright and colourful, or equally that it has a theme tune or a character that the consumer feels they can somehow identify with. Often the attraction stage will be completely bypassed in terms of standardized marketing, as often the sheer volume of advertising, particularly when integrated marketing communications are involved, can mean that the customer is subliminally aware of the product.
Interest: Is often attracted by the benefits of the product. As Puth argues: “Attributes can change the customer currently holds of the product or of a specific brand.” (Ibid) However, with some more standardized campaigns, there is often a lack of discussion as to the benefits of the product, and this instead is compensated by extra images and sounds. It is worth noting in this case that the younger the child and the less developed the language this theory may also apply.
Desire: Occurs when the consumer wants something. In the case of the youth market, this is undoubtedly manifested in the infamous pester power.
Action: The final stage, when the customer is drawn to buy the product. It is worth noting at this stage that, particularly in the youth market, if a campaign has been surprisingly successful, stockists are often unprepared for the demand for the product. This is increasingly the case around the Christmas buying period, the most popular purchase time in the youth market.
This assessment finds that there a number of advantages in targeting both forms of campaign to children and the youth market, but if any distinctions can be made, it is that the globalised campaign is more likely to appeal to the very young children’s market, as it is standardized to appeal to all. Conversely, the adapted campaign aims at a more niche market in terms of culture, and it could be argued that as cultures develop and diversify into teenage years, adapted campaigns would be more successful when targeted at what Gelder terms as sub-cultures – in other words the niche markets that separate from the dominant markets due to interests in music, or specific hobbies. (1997:126) In essence, the adapted campaign is based on more personal information, whereas the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry argues that: “preadolescent children do not understand what personal information is.” (1998: Beder: 110)
To analyse this argument further, the study will also employ Hofstede’s argument on the theories of Collectivism vs. Individualism, which argues that in terms of marketing communication, cultural values, and the susceptibly of a culture to a campaign format can be defined between two specific groups. (1991: 314)
Sun argues that “individualistic societies tend to be more self-centered, self-enhanced…less loyal and emotionally attached to in-groups,” (2004: 319) In other words individualist societies are more drawn to the benefits of the individual consumer. Bhate supports this by claiming that in such societies, “The individual self is considered as a basic unit and a source of life, identity, purpose and goals.” (1999: 281) Conversely, Hofstede argues that: “In collectivist cultures, identity is based on the strong and cohesive in-groups to which they belong.” (1991: 319) Therefore, in cohesive groups much is made of community, and decisions are made on a group basis as opposed to impulsive, which the culture will often see as a “sin” (Ibid). The author concluded that in terms of global cultural differences, a country such as America could be seen as individualistic in approach, whereas somewhere such as Japan, would be seen as largely collectivist. He found that in essence therefore, collectivist cultures were extremely concerned about how they were viewed by others, whereas an individualized culture would be far more susceptible to an aggressively marketing. (1991: 329)
This theory is quite appropriate when applied to the youth market, as it is at this time of life that the consumer is perhaps in their most standardized format. Fox argues that: “Around puberty, in their early teens, children are forming their own identities and they are highly vulnerable to pressure to conform to group standards and mores.” (1995: 154) Therefore, if this theory were to be applied, it would suggest that as a uniformed group, teenagers are collectivist, in that if someone in the group owns a product or consumes a service, it is likely that others in the group will want to partake in it too. After all, essentially this is how new cultures are born. (1991: Gelder: 60)
By applying the AIDA model and analyzing how children fit into the collectivist vs. individualist cultural debate, it can be concluded that at a younger age, children are more susceptible to standardized campaigns, as it is the image of the advertisement that is more likely to attract them as opposed to the physical content. At this point also, children are more willing to be individualist, and although they may follow certain trends or activities, if a child does not like something, they are often honest about it. Conversely, the older a child gets, the more drawn they are to a collectivist culture where they will do and say exactly the same as their counterparts. It is here that a standardized campaign can appeal to a mass market by “manipulating [youths] through their insecurities, and seeking to define normality for them” (1998: Beder: 110) Indeed in this case the actual product and the benefits concerned are often unimportant, as the popularity of products such as McDonalds and Coke has proved. Indeed, as Byrd – Bredbenner suggests: “The ‘prime-time’ diet, largely comprised of fast-foods, is strikingly similar to the actual diet of the Western population.” (2000: 59) But as teenagers begin to become older and diversify into their own cultures and beliefs, it is here that the adapted campaign can benefit the niche. Although it may be true that as the youth market ages and niche cultures and beliefs set in adaptation can become a popular form of promotion, this study would argue that it is the standardized and globalised campaign that displays images of celebrities and models to be aspired to that carries the most weight with the easily manipulated youth market.
In conclusion, all three of the promotional campaigns selected for this study meet the hypothesis and although all have employed elements of compromise, HSBC clearly displays the most hybrid “compromised” campaign.
Overall, the study agrees with Melewar that the “the two major benefits of standardization of advertising are cost reduction and brand image.” (2004: 868) In terms of adaptation, the main benefit is clearly that it allows the campaign a stricter focus on the target market, working round the needs of the customer. It also allows the brand to fit into an established market – or in the case of Kellogg’s, develop a completely new one.
Culture proved to play an important role in the analysis for both standardized and adapted campaigns. In terms of adaptation, analyzing the strength of cultural values allows for the brand to fit into an existing market full of niche customers and unknown legal difficulties. For standardization, it would appear it is going against the accepted cultural values that can appeal in some instances and often attracts consumers in the West. This was found to be particularly apparent in the analysis of McDonald’s launch into the Japanese market.
Youth is clearly also an extremely important factor in terms of assessing the advantages and disadvantages of a global vs. local campaigns. Not only because the pester power element is extremely important and can often contribute to the buying decision of a purchase, but also because the “collective” nature of the youth market can build towards a large customer base.
It should be noted that this study does not attempt to define which form of campaign is better as such, as this depends largely on the market and product, as Kanso argues: “the degree of standardization in advertising will have to be determined in each marketplace.” (2004: 205) But that it does note that although certain elements of promotion can conform to the standardized ideal. The customer is not one of them.