International Marketing– BUS343
Marketing communication is not always easy and can become even more difficult when doing so internationally. There are steps in place to help marketers communicate effectively but they don’t always help steer away from misunderstandings. Marketing to a target audience internationally takes focus and a local marketer to ensure the right messages is used.
Communication and International Marketing
The communication process consists of seven steps that can be used as a guide to help marketers develop a message, 1) An information source, 2) Encoding, 3) A message channel, 4) Decoding, 5) Receiver, 6) Feedback, and 7) Noise. The steps that typically experience communication errors are step two, encoding and step four, decoding. Encoding is transforming thoughts or ideas of the information to be conveyed into a form that can be sent, such as pictures or words (What is, n.d.). Decoding is processing the message into understanding (What is, n.d.). Encoding in one culture and decoding in another sets the stage for possible misunderstanding or interpretation. Big companies are not immune to marketing blunders due to encoding and decoding errors when marketing internationally.
Encoding and decoding being the areas that most of the breakdown in communication happens, these two areas are the most logical place to focus more attention. Decoding and encoding errors go hand in hand, decoding errors are usually due to incorrect encoding. Let’s take Pepsi for example. Their “Come Alive” slogan was improperly decoded as “Come out of the grave” (Cateora, 2016, pg 497), mistakes like this happen time and time again. To refrain from making embarrasing errors like that, the decoding of the message should be done by a native speaker in the country being marketed too. Utilizing an interpreter that understands the culture of the target audience and the language would advise against any misunderstandings that can (and do) occur when using non-local interpreters.
Although misinterpreting written language when marketing internationally seems to happen occasionally it is not the only way to miscommunicate. Colors can have very strong meanings in some cultures as Pepsi figured out when they changed the color of vending machines from deep “Regal” blue to light “Ice” blue in South East Asia. Light blue is associated with death and mourning, this mistake cost Pepsi dominance over this market to Coke (Henderson, 2007). Marketing internationally can be tricky and requires a local marketer to be involved in the marketing process, even down to the vending machine color, to keep from making mistakes.
Effective international communication can be done if the right steps are taken and with the help of a local marketer. Slang, colors, and interpretation can be missed if someone that grew up with the cultural distinction needed to steer companies away from making embarrasing mistakes.
Cateora, P. (2016). International marketing (17th ed.). Retrieved from https://redshelf.com/
Henderson, B., (2007). Top Ten Biggest International Marketing Mistakes of All Time. Retrieved from https://ezinearticles.com/?Top-Ten-Biggest-International-Marketing-Mistakes-of-All-Time&id=529007
What is the Communication Process? – Definition & Steps. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-the-communication-process-definition-steps.html