Cross Cultural Marketing Research

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Case Study[1]: Issues in Cross Cultural Marketing Research

By Andy Bhanot

Gary Richter looked worried and stressed, as he sat in his office wondering about the problems that were staring him in his face. Gary had moved to Kenya a month ago as the Marketing Director for Coltake’s business in East Africa covering Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Gary, who was considered a marketing maverick at Coltake had spent 5 years in South Africa launching a slew of new products that had doubled company’s oral care business in the region. The assignment in South Africa was preceded by a very successful stint at company headquarters in New York where he had spent 6 years as the Marketing Manager for new and emerging markets – formulating strategies for market entry, development and expansion into emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Gary’s most perplexing problem was the sales target that he was supposed to achieve as per the business plan handed over to him by his predecessor who had left the company to go back to his country. Inspite of his best efforts Gary was unable to understand the rationale and logic of more than doubling the sales target when the company sales had grown a compounded annual growth rate of 6% in the last 5 years. During the handover his predecessor had mentioned to Gary that the market in East Africa had a huge potential to grow because the per capita consumption of oral hygiene products in the region was less than one twentieth of what it is in western markets. Gary was also struggling to adapt his mind to calculate the volumes of toothpaste in litres compared to metric tones that he was so used to in other countries. Apparently, the standard weights & measures department of Kenya had not changed the archaic law that required companies to report toothpaste production in litres, and the consumers had become used to the volume on pack labels than weight. Gary had tried to get a sense of the usage patterns by talking to the...
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