The International Marketing Plan

Marketing a product internationally is a much more complex process than marketing one domestically. Your company is doing business in a completely new environment. Some of the differences will include: vastly different customers, a different currency, different political systems and, different cultures. In order to have a chance to be successful, it is essential that the company start with a very thorough analysis of the operating environments in the target country (TC). You should be familiar with a PESTEL analysis from BUS 150 and BUS 162. This guideline will start with a review of PESTEL looking at some key issues that should be covered for each of the environments.

Political:
1) What political system is currently in place? Is it a democracy? Communist? A dictatorship?
2) How stable is the government? Are there frequent changes in leadership?
3) Where in the political cycle is the country now? Is the government newly elected?
4) What are the government’s views of foreigners, more specifically of your country?
5) What are their views on foreign ownership of resources and industry?
6) What are the risk and corruption indices?

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Economic:
1) What is the economic system in the TC? Is it a market economy?
2) What is the unemployment rate? The inflation rate?
3) What are typical wages? What is the cost of living?
4) How stable is the currency? What are exchange rates with your currency and the US dollar? Are there restrictions on moving money into or out of the country?
5) What are interest rates? Are they volatile? How much control does the government have over them?
6) What is the banking system like?
7) What are the major industries? Who are the major employers?

Socio-Cultural:
1) Are there any religious or political issues that might impact on your product’s sales?
2) Is the populace educated? Sophisticated? What are literacy rates?
3) What media are available and used by the populace?
4) Is the country culturally homogenous? If not, what significant cultural groups are present?
5) How open to change is the population?
6) Who are the cultural icons?
7) How much of the population is urban vs. rural?
8) Are they innovators or laggards?
9) How will the populace react to your product?
Technology:
1) How technologically advanced is the country? Is everyone at the same level?
2) What is the infrastructure situation?
3) What level of automation is present in most industries?
4) Is there a sufficient level of support for your technologies?
5) If you require a technically sophisticated workforce is one present?

Environmental (Physical):
1) What are the natural disaster risks?
2) What are the climate and weather like?
3) What is the physical topography like?
4) What is the population’s attitude towards the environment?
5) Are there government environmental regulations that would impact your business?

Legal:
1) What legal systems are in place?
2) Is it safe to live there?
3) Are there laws related to such things as alcohol use? Women’s rights?
4) What are the product liability laws?
5) If you break the law (unknowingly of course) what are the repercussions?
6) What avenue of appeal do you have?
7) Who makes the laws?
8) What are the rules & regulations regarding the sale and use of your product?

Having answered all of those questions and other ones specific to your industry, you should have a reasonably good idea about how your product will fit in the TC. Are you ready to launch in the TC? Far from it!!!

Only now we are ready to take a closer look at the subject. Now we can start to look at some purely business questions. In no specific order we need to look at the following:

1) Exactly who is our target market? Define the market using appropriate segmentation criteria.
2) Will we have to modify our product to sell it in the TC? For example, heated car seats do not make sense in India. What will the cost of the modifications be? How will they impact the selling price?
3) Do we have to change the name of our product for language or cultural reasons? E.g. Chevy Nova.
4) How will we transport our product to the TC? How long will it take to arrive? How much will shipping costs be? How much will it add to the selling price of the product?
5) How will we advertise and promote our product there? Will the advertising copy that we use here work there? What will this add to the selling price? Noticing a trend here??
6) How will we distribute the product? What marketing channels will we use? How will the new channels affect the selling price of the product?
7) How are we going to monitor our operations in the TC? Local managers need training and know little about the product. Sending people from home means housing, schooling, and transportation. Impact on selling price?
8) Can the market support this new price? Given the new selling price, what do we feel demand will be? Is this level of demand feasible? We need to perform a break even analysis.

Whew … are we done yet? Far from it!! Now we need to focus on the marketing side of things … the marketing mix. We’ve thought about the P’s from the feasibility point of view, but now that we have decided the launch is a feasible, we need to put it all down on paper with detailed costing and analysis by the decision makers.

The finished document will include the relevant parts of the PESTEL analysis (much of what you learned may not apply to your product), the marketing plan (at a minimum the 4 P’s), a plan for the implementation and, a discussion of the control process.

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