As businesses continue to expand internationally, it is becoming more important than ever for these companies to adapt their strategies to different cultures in foreign markets. Companies must extensively analyze the target market and determine whether or not their product or service can be successful in that market. Often times, cultural differences require changes to be made to a company’s sales and marketing approach and sometimes even the product itself.
Being aware of cultural differences allows a company to expand into different markets and be successful in doing so. A prime example of this is McDonald’s opening of vegetarian restaurants in India. The first vegetarian restaurant is set to open next year in Amritsar, a Sikh holy city in northern India. Many religiously observing Hindus and Muslims in India are vegetarian and McDonald’s is striving to meet this demand. It is no coincidence that McDonald’s is planning to open its vegetarian restaurants in religious regions that are populated with large percentages of vegetarians.
A key component in adjusting to foreign markets is language. Sometimes company names have a totally different meaning in another language. For instance, Microsoft’s Vista has a pleasant connotation in English and is synonymous with outlook and vision, but in Latvian vista translates to “chicken” or “frumpy woman”. This somewhat comical blunder led to customer confusion and could have been prevented by basic research.
Meeting local consumer demand and being cognizant of cultural differences are keys to being successful internationally. It allows the company to first determine if there is demand for the product and then how to properly market the good to the demanding consumers. It sounds clear cut and easy, but in reality it is very difficult. Few companies have succeeded in being recognized as a global brand and this is a testament to the difficulty of identifying cultural differences and then being able to develop a local strategy to generate profits.
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