Tag Archives: Marketing Week

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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Marketing Week’s Cover Story on the Marketing Academy

Marketing Week’s cover story, Have faith in the future, is an in-depth analysis of the Marketing Academy’s Boot Camp, for which I conducted its International Marketing curriculum.  Marketing Week comments:

“Young marketers face a dearth of opportunities to develop their business and leadership skills and companies are frustrated by a lack of top-level talent. But a new Marketing Academy is molding tomorrow’s stars and inspiring marketing’s elevation to the board.”

The Marketing Academy Scholars are truly enlightened global citizens who are very worldly for their age – then again – they have grown up in a more globalized era than any previous generation and so they innately think and act with global awareness.

It is essential that as part of Marketing Academy’s curriculum in developing the next generation of future business leaders, they understand the tangible benefits of this worldly outlook that will include fewer conflicts and warfare as international commerce bridges people and cultures.  Given that, it comes as no surprise that the Marketing Academy sponsors include Google, one of the world’s most successful global brands.

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