Promotion and Communication

The purpose of promotion is both to communicate with buyers and to influence them. Most promotional mistakes in international marketing are attributable to one or several of these steps not properly reflecting cultural influences or a general lack of knowledge about the target market.

Information source – Is a marketer with a product to sell to a specific target market. The product message to be conveyed should reflect the needs and wants of the target market; however, often the actual market needs and the marketer’s perception of them do not coincide. This disconnect is especially true when the marketer relies more on the self-reference criterion (SRC) than on effective research. It can never be assumed that “if it sells well in one country, it will sell in another.”

Encoding – This step causes problems even with a “proper” message. At this step, such factors as color, timing, values, beliefs, humor, tastes, and appropriateness of spokespersons can cause the international marketer to symbolize the message incorrectly.

Message channels – This must be carefully selected if an encoded message is to reach the consumer.

Decoding – At this step problems are generally created by improper encoding, which caused errors. Example of Pepsi’s “Come Alive” slogan being decoded as “Come out of the grave.” Chevrolet’s brand name for the Nova model (which means new star) was decoded into Spanish as No Va!, meaning “it doesn’t go.”

In another misstep, a translation that was supposed to be decoded as “hydraulic ram” was instead decoded as “wet sheep.”

Decoding errors may also occur accidentally, as was the case with Colgate-Palmolive’s selection of the brand name Cue for toothpaste. The brand name was not intended to have any symbolism; nevertheless, it was decoded by the French into a pornographic word. In some cases, the intended symbolism has no meaning to the decoder.

Receiver – Errors at the receiver end of the process generally result from a combination of factors:

Feedback – This step of the communications process is important as a check on the effectiveness of the other steps.

Promotion Mix

To communicate with and influence customers, several promotional tools are available. These elements are Advertising, personal selling, publicity, public relations and sales promotion.

Personal Selling / salesmanship

This can be defined as oral presentation in a conversation with one or more prospective purchasers for the purpose of making sales. Personal selling is used at every distribution level.

In the Far East, Asian businesspeople do not like to discuss business deals with a foreigner who does not come highly recommended by a mutual friend. Personal contact is important to selling in South Korea, not only because of the value placed on personal relationships but also because such contact serves to bring the end user in touch with new processes and equipment.

Sales Promotion

Sales promotions are marketing activities that stimulate consumer purchases and improve retailer or middlemen effectiveness and cooperation. Sales promotions are short-term efforts directed to the consumer or retailer to achieve such specific objectives such as;

For example, Procter & Gamble’s introduction of Ariel detergent in Egypt included the “Ariel Road Show,” a puppet show that was taken to local markets in villages, where more than half of all Egyptians still live. The show drew huge crowds, entertained people, told about Ariel’s better performance without the use of additives, and sold the brand through a distribution van at a nominal discount. Besides creating brand awareness for Ariel, the road show helped overcome the reluctance of the rural retailers to handle the premium-priced Ariel.

In some less developed countries, sales promotions constitute the major portion of the promotional effort in rural and less accessible parts of the market. In parts of Latin America, a portion of the advertising sales budget for both Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola is spent on carnival trucks, which make frequent trips to outlying villages to promote their products.

Public Relations

This is creating good relationships with the popular press and other media to help companies communicate messages to their publics i.e. customers, the general public, and governmental regulators.

 The job consists of not only encouraging the press to cover positive stories about companies but also managing unfavorable rumors, stories, and events.

Corporate sponsorships might be classified as an aspect of sales promotions or public relations, though their connections to advertising are also manifest. Tobacco companies have been particularly creative at using sports event sponsorships to avoid countries’ advertising regulations associated with more traditional media.

Other prominent examples are Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of European football (soccer) matches or Kia Motor’s sponsorship of the Australian Open tennis tournament. McDonald’s executed huge international IMC campaigns surrounding its sponsorship of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.


International advertising is the practice of advertising in foreign or international media when the advertising campaign is planned, directly or indirectly, by an advertiser from another country. To advertise overseas, a company must determine the availability (or unavailability) of advertising media. Media may not be readily available in all countries or in certain areas within the countries.

Advertising Strategy and Goals

The goals of advertising around the world vary substantially. For example, Chinese manufacturers are establishing new brands as their economy expands;

Unilever is introducing a new product-line extension, Dove Shampoo, in East Asian markets; and Russia’s airline Aeroflot is seeking to upgrade its quality image. All these marketing problems require careful marketing research and thoughtful and creative advertising campaigns in country, regional, and global markets.

In many cases, standardized products may be marketed globally. But because of differences in cultures, they still require a different advertising appeal in different markets.

For instance, Ford’s model advertising varies by nation because of language and societal nuances. Ford advertises the affordability of its Escort in the United States, where the car is seen as entry level. But in India, Ford launched the Escort as a premium car

Finally, many companies are using market segmentation strategies that ignore national boundaries i.e. business buyers or high-income consumers across the globe are often targeted in advertising, for example. Others are proposing newer global market segments defined by “consumer cultures” related to share sets of consumption-related symbols i.e. convenience, youth, America, internationalism, and humanitarianism are examples.


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