Today there are many firms whose products are widely known and are available in many countries all over the world, but international marketing is not a simple activity that can be successfully applied by every firm. First, to achieve success in international marketing activities, a company should consider economic, social and cultural facts about the countries which the firm plans to expand its activities to. These facts are extremely important because they have a great impact on the demand for a certain product. William M. Pride and O.C. Ferrell states that "the effects of environmental forces on customers and marketers can be dramatic and difficult to predict" (pp.6). This results in the need for a reliable and carefully developed marketing research. A company should conduct marketing researches to bring down the level of uncertainty and risk to minimum, by acquiring true and accurate information about the environmental forces. Thus marketing research, environmental scanning and analysis are crucial for a company which involves in international marketing activities. And finally the choice of the level of commitment plays an important role on the success of international firms. A company considering marketing in a foreign nation may prefer expansion through a joint venture or a trading company rather than direct ownership, if there are many uncertainties about the marketing environment of that country. Colgate-Palmolive is a good example of the companies which are successful in international marketing and its success is a result of its expansion strategy which emphasizes on all these essential facts.
Colgate-Palmolive Co. was founded in 1806 by William Colgate, and today the company sells its well-known products in more than 150 countries. Colgate-Palmolive is in a very desirable position, which many other firms can only dream of. However the firm does not seem to be satisfied with all its successes and achievements; and is directed towards new regions to seek new opportunities. In early 1990s Colgate-Palmolive began its attempts on expanding its marketing activities into the former East Germany, Poland and Mexico.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new market formed which meant new market opportunities for Colgate-Palmolive Co. as well as for many other companies from around the world. The changing political, social and economic forces in the region had strongly influenced the marketing strategy that the company adopted for its expansion into the former East Germany.
As historical data states, after years of communist and socialist regime, East Germany combined with West and adopt liberalism. However the old regime left some problems, one of which is the lack of sales force. Since the government was producing and distributing goods to citizens, the term "sales" nearly dissappeared. It was very difficult to find people to hire, with sales and marketing skills. Colgate-Palmolive adopted a proactive approach and got rid of this problem by establishing sales training programmes in the region; but the company was aware that those training programmes would be time-consuming and costly. To avoid losing time Colgate-Palmolive hired experienced West German salespeople while new ones were being trained.
The company might also have faced the problem of inadequate marketing channels, which are organizations directing products from producers to customers. Colgate-Palmolive Co. needed marketing channels to make products available when the customer wanted them, in locations where the customers wished to purchase them. Without distribution channels, exchange transactions would be much more complex and costly. Since there were not enough wholesalers in East Germany, the company had to deal with hundreds of shops to market its products. To minimize the complexity and the costs of distributing products, Colgate-Palmolive Co. should have focused on the distribution and developed an efficient strategy.
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