Standardization vs. Adaption, International Market Research

Standardization vs. Adaption: How international market research influences the decision of marketing managers


International Market Research is more important than ever. Today’s economy is dynamic and driven by globalization. Therefore, due to globalization, more and more companies decide to operate internationally. Through cross-border activities, companies want to achieve their growth targets and remain competitive. To operate successfully in international markets, a comprehensive understanding of the marketing environment is essential. More information about foreign markets is required to understand the market conditions and, hence, adapt the strategy.

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Especially exporters have to decide whether they standardize or adapt their products when entering a new market. This product configuration is one essential marketing tool of the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion)
This paper will point out the importance of international market research as a part of a marketing tool and elaborates on the types of information that have to be focused on during international market research. The examples provide a better understanding, why certain information has to be collected.

Types of market research information: A step-by-step strategy can also be viewed under the US government example

  1. Geographical: The geographical circumstances may impact the product you may introduce in your targeted region. For example, the Nutella company changes the recipe in hotter areas to ensure a normal viscosity. But also, the demand for ice cream is higher in regions with a warm climate.
  2. Economic: There are several factors, which influence the introduction of a new product. The buying power and revenue of the market are an indicator of whether consumers prefer complicated and expensive products or not. As an example, we can see Nokia, who focuses on selling low cost and affordable mobiles on the African continent.
  3. Cultural: Often underestimated but very important in marketing decisions. Language and religious differences are points you should keep an eye on it. A famous example of religious differences can be seen in how McDonald’s adapts its products in India. In Hinduism, people are not allowed to eat beef. Therefore, McDonald’s offers more chicken products.
  4. Infrastructure: Road quality, communication system, availability of storage influences the product. Coca Cola adapted its marketing strategy due to poor infrastructure availability in Africa. That means they use manual distribution centers. Coca-Cola distributes its syrup to vendors.
  5. Information about competitors: A competitor analysis will help companies avoid mistakes and understand market dynamics. We can learn from competitors and see how they introduced their products and see how the market’s potential develops. But companies can compare their products to see how competitive they are.

The biggest mistake in marketing decisions is to believe that a product that fits right in the home country will also fit international! Of course, standardizing your product is less complicated and offers advantages, but sometimes adaption is indispensable. It is about meeting customer needs.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Standardization and Adaption

  • Standardization offers economies of scale and universe usage for customers. But companies can’t react fast to changing circumstances with this strategy, and innovation is inhibited.
  • Adaption is a tool to differentiate yourself from competitors, but modification always comes with higher costs.

Mainly Katrium specializes on international market research. They conduct market research in over 64 countries. Their expertise will help you to make the right marketing decisions. Upon request, Katrium can offer tailor-made market researches depending on the customer. Companies must define their research problem and establish objectives to get useful market research.

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