Standardization Versus Adaptation in International Marketing

Topics: Marketing, Culture, Marketing plan Pages: 8 (2213 words) Published: August 28, 2013
Standardization versus Adaptation in International Marketing

The most challenging decision that a company may face in internationalization is the degree of standardization or adaptation in its operations. The question of standardization or adaptation affects all avenues of a business’ operations, such as R&D, finance, production, organizational structure, procurement, and the marketing mix. Whether a company chooses to standardize or adapt its operations depends on its attitudes toward different cultures. These attitudes are defined by three orientations toward foreign culture: ethnocentric, polycentric, and geocentric. Ethnocentric Model

Ethnocentrism has a socio-psychological dynamic that is broadly used to describe human behavior in and between contradistinctive cultures. The roots of ethnocentrism stem from a sociological construct explaining “majority” versus “minority” conflicts. In 1906, sociologist William Graham Sumner coined “ethnocentrism”. He defined the concept as, The view of things in which one's own group is the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it…each group nourishes its own pride and vanity, boasts itself superior, exalts its own divinities and looks with contempt on outsiders. The heart of ethnocentrism can be summarized as, a belief system of, one’s own company, culture, or country knows best at how to operate things. The concept has a unique set of principles, which govern its very being. These principles are distinguishing different groups; viewing their own group as stronger, superior, and forthright above all others; and to be apprehensive of and indifferent toward other groups, especially those they see as weak or inferior, or not trustworthy. Ethnocentrism is ingrained in various areas of interaction between multifarious groups of people. Ethnocentrism can predestine how companies behave in conducting business cross-culturally, as well as act toward particular cultures. Marketing traditionalists view ethnocentrism, in cross-cultural marketing, as deleterious to product design, as well as global advertising. Especially the belief a ethnocentric marketer has, such as, what is propitious for consumers in their own country is just as good for consumers globally, therefore, the need for unique approaches for marketing cross-culturally is negated. This ethnocentric thinking can be detrimental in marketing strategies. Furthermore, ethnocentric consumers tend to reject things that are not similar to their culture, such as values, symbols, and people; on the other hand, they will accept intra-cultural articles, which become receivers of loyalty and pride. Therefore, a marketer should market products/services synchronously with a culture’s ethos, and not with their own cultural predilections. Polycentric Model

The polycentric orientation uses adaptation in every market, and its marketing mix differs, depending on the culture in which it is operates. By differentiating, this orientation approach captivates, as well as satisfies the needs of each unique market. The polycentric approach will set up global subsidiaries, and each will have its own marketing objectives, as well as policies and procedures, apart from the parent company, such as hiring, marketing, production, human resource, finance, and discounts. The logic behind polycentrism is, When in Rome, do as the Romans do…let the Romans do it their way. Therefore, the parent company steps aside, and lets its global offices make decisions that reflect the local practices. Geocentric Model

The geocentric orientation is a fusion of ethnocentric and polycentric orientations, it is understood that there are similarities and differences in cultures worldwide; thus, this is more of a balanced approach to take in marketing strategies, for it is a compromise and balance between the two orientations extremes of polycentric and ethnocentric. Geocentric orientation is...
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