Tag Archives: cross-cultural insights

Smart German car makers just waking up to US opportunities?

According to the FT story that ran a few days ago, German car makers Volkswagen and Smart “microcars” (is this a new product category that’s been so tightly and strategically defined that you can automatically be the market leader?) have realized there’s money to be made in the USA.  Driven by a steep fall in its sales, Smart’s CEO Deiter Zetsche admits the company “might not have done enough active selling” since arriving on American shores in 2008.  Maybe the 20% drop in 2011 sales compared to 2010 is what prompted the realization.  Surely the US consumer, screaming over gasoline prices above $3.50/gallon, is now ready more than ever to entertain a microcar.  Turning up the marketing and sales loudness dial for the US must be something every brand traveller must know?

Chilean Miners: Recap of my BBC Breakfast Interview

As I discussed this morning in my BBC TV Breakfast interview, the successful rescue of the 33 miners is a welcome respite from the otherwise depressing news about economic turmoil, banker bonuses, paltry pensions and property prices.  What is key once the miners have had a chance to process all they’ve experienced, is that they get good advice about any marketing opportunities that are presented to them.  It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that life insurance, beer, personal hygiene manufacturers amongst others approach them to endorse their brands.  No doubt the William Morris agency is already on-site to secure movie and TV rights for their amazing story which might bring them at least a financial cushion on the back of the horrendous trauma they’ve experienced and the fact they are now all unemployed.  The happy ending in any case is one that delights everyone, regardless of where in the world they are.

An unexpected benefit I suggest is Chile’s country brand is now much more favourably viewed than before the miners were rescued.  It demonstrated to the world it can manage expectations (having told the media it would be Christmas at the earliest before the miners are rescued) and projects, having engineered the rescue capsule flawlessly and ahead of schedule.  Hopefully their inward investment team are working overtime to capitalise on this unexpected success and showcasing of talent.

Spotlight on America | In-Depth Analysis | Marketing Week


International Marketing Partners Director Allyson Stewart-Allen’s 2001 book Working with Americans highlights, among other things, that even though British and American culture is linked through history and language, key differences in approaches to business are worth understanding. She also revealed in her recent session with the Marketing Week-sponsored Marketing Academy that Americans put less importance on relationships but are more task-focused, and want to see numbers-based results and insights over qualitative commentary.

For Nicole McDonnell, marketing director of children’s food brand Ella’s Kitchen, cultural differences in her team’s personality in the US has been very obvious and unexpected. She gives the example of company job titles – Nicole’s business card says “head of making friends”, and the company managing director is Ella’s dad, and his job title is simply that. McDonnell feels this adds to the brand identity, but it has not gone down well with her colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic.

“In the States, it’s all about being the CEO or the vice-president. I would like them to use the job titles we use because they epitomise what the brand is about, but in the US they feel it doesn’t give them enough credibility in their market,” she explains. “I appreciate the titles we like to use might not give the right understanding of how senior somebody is, so getting the right balance on this is something we are in discussions about.”

Diageo’s Cristina Diezhandino, now regional marketing and innovation director for Africa, also discovered some key differences when she embarked on her first role in the US about 15 years ago. First, that the customary greeting of kissing a business colleague in Spain was not appropriate in the US. Second, that meeting formats were a lot stricter than what she was used to.

“Meetings had a set beginning and end, stated in advance, with specific agendas and an outcome to be achieved in that time. What surprised me was that people would simply stand up at the end of the period of time, say goodbye and leave.

“I now regard that as very normal, but when I first experienced it I thought it was not a polite way to end things. Then I realised that it is equally impolite to take up more of people’s time than necessary when they are very busy.”

 

Click here to read my comments in Marketing Week’s  cover feature: Beware the culture gap on global growth trail

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Beware the culture gap on global growth trail | Marketing Week

Beware the Culture Gap on Global Growth Trail
I’ve been interviewed for an in-depth analysis by Marketing Week on this topic.  One of the key reasons it’s so important for brand owners and developers to master the global/local dilemma is because the costs for those who haven’t are immeasurable.  For example, the costs to the brand’s and parent company’s reputation from market ignorance is tangible but often difficult to measure due to the time lags involved.  Similarly, the cash spent on campaign investments – above and below the line – are wasted when a company’s local execution is misaligned to the culture.

The lack of a global marketing strategy means the risks of off-message behaviour and executions are tremendous.  These inconsistencies we know undermine brand building, for which consistency is a prerequisite.  It also means the experience for customers across touch points is inconsistent, lowering their loyalty and thus lifetime value and revenue streams to the company.

Marketing Week’s  Marylou Costa, who first heard me speak at The Marketing Academy’s Boot Camp, for which I conducted the International Marketing curriculum writes:

In a digital world where consumers and corporations are less divided by geographical borders and more and more brands are launching into emerging markets, it’s more than likely that at some point in your career you will be required to go and manage your brand in a totally different region of the world. As a result, the marketing community needs to become “cross-culturally” aware, according to consultants such as Allyson Stewart-Allen, director and founder of cross-cultural specialists International Marketing Partners.

Stewart-Allen goes as far as to say that cultural awareness and cultural ignorance can “make the difference between a successful international deal and an apologetic withdrawal”. Assuming that what worked in your home country will work in your new market not only puts an individual campaign or product at stake, but a marketer’s reputation and career.

She even claims that if senior executives such as BP’s ex-chief executive Tony Hayward or Toyota president Akio Toyoda had done cross-cultural preparation before trying to right their companies’ wrongs before a global audience in the way that seemed natural to them, they may have been able to protect their brand equity from damage.

Hayward failed to recognise the US demand for a positive and open attitude towards crisis management when communicating with the American public about how BP would rectify the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which saw about £50bn wiped from his company’s stock market value.

And as for Toyota, the company’s initial reserved, typically Japanese approach of saying very little about the massive product recalls that were happening was seen by some Western markets as being inactive or even incompetent.

“These are two executives who didn’t read the cultural climate properly,” says Stewart-Allen. “Doing something that is in sync with a particular cultural climate is really important.”

A lack of cultural knowledge can cost a brand dearly. If a business executive makes a serious blunder in an overseas market as a result of not knowing how that business culture works, future working relationships will be hindered, says Stewart-Allen. “The more you study how people work, how they use your products and services in different places, the better. When you work on incorrect assumptions, you make bad decisions that you sometimes can’t recover from. Studying in advance is like an insurance policy, and the return on investment is high because you hit the ground running.”

Read the full article and let me know what you think!

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HOW READY ARE YOU TO WORK WITH THE WORLD?

HOW READY ARE YOU TO WORK WITH THE WORLD?

Today Wednesday, 8th September, I’m leading the Marketing Academy’s Faculty for its International Marketing curriculum.   The Marketing Academy provides a great forum for industry leaders, marketing gurus, academics, entrepreneurs and marketing practitioners to inspire, develop and coach an entire generation of future business leaders.  This is an overview of the program highlights I’ll be covering in my half-day seminar:

How Can You Win in Overseas Cultures?

To hit the ground running – saving yourself time, money and embarrassment while you build your overseas client base and networks – you must be fluent in the business cultures of your overseas business partners if you’re going to be an effective business developer.

Whether you’re encountering these other business cultures while traveling the globe or at your desk via e-mails, this highly-practical and relevant help gives you actionable information about yourself and your international colleagues’
business practices and cultures, making you a more fluent corporate diplomat.  The objective: to enable you to succeed in the ambiguous, unsettling and diverse international business environments which you are now targeting.

This program is based on the principle that understanding the environments and contexts in which international business partners operate develops executive citizen diplomats who can operate successfully while representing their companies and their countries.

Marketing Academy Programme Objectives

  • to reveal how individual behaviours/actions affect the perceptions of executives in a variety of other business
    cultures
  • to provide participants with frameworks, insights and tools to be able to create action plans and directly apply the
    learning to their business activities
  • to offer participants insights necessary to create effective communication within international colleagues and/or team
    members
  • to reduce the levels of stress, frustration and conflicts based on simple misunderstandings
  • to deliver valuable knowledge concerning what makes other business cultures “tick”
  • to raise the probability of building long-term, profitable business relationships that are fruitful and lead to the
    achievement of business and professional goals
  • to help participants begin the learning journey toward being true global diplomats

Format

This ½ day Marketing Academy interactive session is infused with small group activities to provide frequent opportunities for the Marketing Academy Scholars to share personal experiences, ask questions and try out ideas and new behaviours in a safe and confidential setting.  The process is engaging, fun, experiential and effective.

The Scholars will be working in small groups to actively debate and network while expanding their global business competence.

The Scholars will apply a variety of learning methods and materials during this “Working with the World” programme while exploring first-hand, real-life examples of business situations to clarify the concepts presented.

Session topics include:

  • What are “global mindsets” and “business cultures”?
  • Models to describe business cultures
  • Managing cross-cultural dilemmas
  • Role plays: Communicating across cultures
  • Leading complex international teams
  • Assessing and developing your global mindset

Learning Techniques

  • Lively presentations of core material
  • Question and answer sessions
  • Large group discussions and small group exercises and report-backs
  • Learning workbook including copies of the presentation materials

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The World’s Best Countries: Newsweek’s study of health, education, economy and politics ranks the globe’s top nations

So Newsweek has recently issued it’s “World’s Best Countries” ranking  based on education, health, quality of life, economic dynamism, political environment.  The UK weighs in at 14th place – behind Germany’s 12th – but ahead of France’s 16th and Italy’s 23rd rankings.  Guess where the US is?  The United States ranks in 11th place – behind Canada’s 7th place and Japan’s 8th place – putting it in the middle of the G7.

Maybe one reason for the US’ mid-level ranking is the severity of this recession and how different it is from the past few — how chronically it has affected white-collar professionals, especially those in California which has an unemployment rate approaching 13%.  This one State, the world’s 7th largest economy, would displace Canada in the G8 if allowed to be admitted.  As a key driver of technology innovations and economic renewal, this is very bad news indeed.

What this recession has done, interestingly, is make American companies even hungrier for business, finding creative ways to retain custom more than ever before.   This is good news for consumers – customer service keeps improving – if evidenced only by my dry cleaners phoning me to extend a hearty thanks for my custom (can’t see that happening in European settings somehow!).

I also observed American department stores & supermarket retailers pushing their ‘value’ and own-label ranges which is a growing and lucrative source of income.

For more about Newsweek’s ranking:  http://www.newsweek.com/2010/08/15/interactive-infographic-of-the-worlds-best-countries.html

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How to Measure Brand Value: Likes, Followers, Influencers, Views? No, Social Currency

This is a really interesting article by FC Expert Blogger Kevin Randall – read it and tell me what you think!

“A new confluence of market forces (including popular interest in charitable giving post-Haiti quake, the coming of age of the idealistic Millennials, public anger over Wall Street bonuses, the Sustainability movement and near universal hostility directed at BP–“Beyond Pollution”) is requiring brands to be socially “good”–hence more rankings and metrics: Brandkarma.com; PSFK Good Brands.

Of course there are already rankings for brand financial value: Interbrand; Millward Brown BrandZ; Credit Suisse Great Brands; Equitrend; brand equity; and brand word-of-mouth buzz/promoting from McKinsey–all of which try to correlate a brand’s score with its bottom line.

Add to the rankings list now: Brand Social Currency. The inaugural study was completed earlier this year. “Building Social Currency is probably the most important investment companies can make to create value for themselves,” says Erich Joachimsthaler, Founder and CEO of Vivaldi Partners, the author of the study. He views Social Currency as a new, strategic dashboard to help corporate leaders diagnose, build and monitor the long-term heath and value of their “brand assets” in the shifting marketplace.

The methodology was developed in conjunction with MIT Sloan statisticians and Lightspeed Research. Brand Social Currency is defined as the extent to which people share the brand and/or information about the brand as part of their everyday social lives at work or at home. It is made up of six key dimensions or “levers”–Utility; Affiliation; Identity; Conversation; Advocacy; and Information. The study surveyed 1000 respondents on more than 60 brands across a dozen categories. Questions for each lever were posed to brand users. Results then rolled up into a composite Social Currency score.”

a>via How to Measure Brand Value: Likes, Followers, Influencers, Views? No, Social Currency | Fast Company.