Challeges Facing International Marketers in This Millennium

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The prevailing arena in business this millennium has powerful forces which are transforming markets and spectacularly changing ways of doing business. There has been increased movement of people, goods and organizations across borders which have resulted in the emergence of global market segments and the growth of globally integrated markets. Advances in communications and information systems technology have shrivel distances, linking markets through flows of information, images and ideas across markets. These trends facilitate the management of operations on a global scale and accelerate the need to deal effectively with global competition. As a result, firms need to acclimatise and reorganise strategies to respond to these globalizing forces, charting direction for future growth, realigning operations in the light of emerging market and competitor dynamics. In the past, research relating to international marketing has tended to focus on initial market entry decisions and the need for adaptation of various elements of the marketing mix to differing market conditions (Jain 1989). This provided an appropriate focus for firms in the initial stages of involvement in international markets, those determining which country markets to enter and how to modify their tactics in local markets. However, as markets become increasingly integrated and interlinked, management needs to chart direction for future growth relative to world markets as a whole rather than on a country-by-country basis. The dramatic changes in the global marketing environment that are opening up new opportunities as well as ways of operating in these markets have implications for how managers approach development of marketing strategy. In particular, they imply the need to adopt a radically new perspective to strategy development in a rapidly globalizing, highly competitive, and technologically sophisticated context (Craig and Douglas 1996). How should management respond to these challenges? How should the firm position itself? Five areas of particular relevance have been identified for the marketers seeking to meet the challenges of global markets in the in this millenium. Discussion of each area will help to identify critical issues and provoke thought as to how the marketer can best prepare to compete in this millenium.

2.0Looking Beyond Marketing Strategy

Development and assessment of marketing strategy needs to be predicated on a broader view of the components that underlie marketing strategy. International marketing strategy must encompass not only the outward manifestations of the marketing mix, but more broadly the factors within the firm and its environment that shape marketing strategy. Marketing strategy does not exist in isolation but is highly interdependent with strategies relative to sourcing raw materials and components, as well as licensing technology and acquiring other skills (Douglas and Craig 1986). Marketing strategy is also conditioned by the complexity of establishing and coordinating production, distributing products and linking point-of-sale to production across multiple countries. In developing its marketing strategy, the firm must consider how far key aspects are both contingent upon and integrated with other functions or activities of the firm. In entering international markets, the firm has to consider not only which countries offer the most attractive opportunities for its product and services, but also how to enter the market and what are the costs and likely risks of operating in that market. This requires a detailed examination of macro-economic factors such as political and economic stability, foreign exchange risk, labor, management and other resource costs as well as the nature of the marketing infrastructure in making entry decisions. Decisions relating to how to enter a market should consider factors such as the...
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