Export marketing is about marketing across national borders. All the basic principles of marketing can be applied to both domestic and export marketing, the latter is far more challenging because when entering a new country/market, the marketer will have to deal with a different kind of customer in a foreign environment with laws and regulations that may differ radically from those of the domestic market. Even in a world that is moving towards increasing similarities in consumer tastes, marketing methods, production processes and business practices, there are still a significant number of differences between international markets to make selling to them challenging – see figure 1.
When trading across national borders for example:
- The customer profile in the foreign market is often very different from that of the customer in the domestic market, particularly in the areas of language, religion, ideology, living standards and fashion
- Different and unfamiliar cultural, economic, legal, social and political systems may be encountered in foreign markets Foreign markets represent unfamiliar environments
- There are greater complexities associated with payment, distribution, transport and insurance
- The role of documentation assumes added importance to prevent misunderstanding and costly litigation
- Goods are subject to customs control and the payment of import duty (where applicable)
- A number of technical and administrative regulations may apply to exports – legal requirements in certain foreign markets in respect of the technical specifications of a product, that call for changes to be made before the product may be imported
- Exchange rates, and in some cases exchange control regulations, are applicable
- There are new parameters that the exporter will need to take into conisderation, such as import duties as well as legal restrictions, different modes of transport, international trade documentation, foreign currencies, and different and additional marketing channels
- There is generally more extensive use made of the fax and e-mail than the telephone and when these are used, different time zones and different languages have to be considered
- Operating in foreign markets exposes the exporter to far wider and more intense competition than would be the case in the domestic market
- The complexity of exporting, the additional environments that exporters face, as well as new parameters that exporters will need to deal with, makes the export management task far more difficult
The main distinguishing feature between export marketing and domestic marketing is thus that with the former, a company is operating within external environments that are highly uncertain and where the rules of the game are often ambiguous, contradictory and subject to rapid change! Export marketing is therefore more challenging, complex, risky and expensive. Ultimately, export marketing takes more effort and more time, and requires greater financial resources than domestic marketing. In addition, it requires at least the same level of commitment that companies give to their local operations.
Multinational marketing (marketing across several different foreign markets) is even more complex. When dealing with more than one foreign market, the firm is faced with several different external environments, each of which may call for different product, pricing, promotion and distribution strategies. The challenge is to co-ordinate, integrate and manage the various marketing programs to achieve the firm’s overall marketing objectives.