One of the major marketing challenges that faces the aspirant exporter is the how to overcome the barriers resulting from the different environments that you will encounter in exporting. These environments include:

  • The socio-cultural environment
  • The economic environment
  • The political environment
  • The legal environment
  • The technological environment
There are big differences

In most cases, these environments differ –sometimes dramatically – from the equivalent home environment. For example, some markets may be technologically superior or inferior to that which we are familiar with. Their economies may be stronger or weaker, or may function differently (such as the communist environments in China or Cuba). They are almost certain to have different political and legal systems than what we have and the influence of their Government is also likely to differ. Finally, and perhaps most dramatically, their socio-cultural environment is likely to be different from ours. You will find that they speak a different language, function in different social structures, have different beliefs and values, and are drawn to different aesthetics than what we are.

You need to adapt to these differences

All of these differences make it extremely difficult to use the same marketing package (or mix) that we do at home. Instead, we need to consider developing or adapting the product to ‘fit in’ with the requirements of not only the end customer but also the environment within which the customer lives and works. We also need to consider pricing the product differently, perhaps to accommodate the additional charges that are levied in the foreign marketplace. Distribution is also a problem and we have longer distances to cover, import duties to contend with and a barrage of documentation to overcome. The marketing channels – the routes from factory to end-user – are also longer, more complex and more costly. They are inevitably more channel members present that influence and add cost to the distribution process. Finally, the way that you promote your product will need to vary dramatically to take the various environments into consideration – especially the cultural environment, which incorporates the question of adapting to the foreign language!

Adapting is a marketing challenge that you will face

These differences translate into challenging marketing issues which the exporter must face and overcome if he/she is to be successful. One way to overcome these challenges is to understand the foreign marketplace and end user better. This means undertaking serious marketing research to ensure that you know exactly what is expected of you and how you will need to adapt your marketing mix in order to meet these differences.