European aspects of a global brand

Date of publication: September 1, 1989


From today's standpoint BMW is an export-oriented company. As of January 1st, 1993 however, two thirds of our output will no longer be exported but sold in the single European market, BMW is prepared for this development: its distribution network is already today represented by subsidiaries in the most important car markets of Europe. These subsidiaries function as profit centers which bear their own profit responsibilities. Yet they have to be in line with the strategic framework which is determined by headquaters. As a consequence of this organisational structure the job of the central market research department is twofold. On the one hand they have to provide comparable information on an international basis for the strategic planning at headquaters. On the other hand they have to meet the requirements of the subsidiaries which need country- specific information. By means of an example it is shown how market research can do justice to these different needs. A report on a positioning study is given which was carried out internationally. The study provides a basic approach for global brand management as well as guidelines for local marketing. One part of the paper focusses on the discussion of problems which arise when international studies have to be designed, carried out and interpreted. In this chapter the following points are discussed in detail: the integration of the different interests of both headquarters and subsidiaries when designing the study, the development of survey and analysis instruments as well as difficulties which arise when defining the sample and interpreting the findings. The second part of the paper relates to some research findings which show that the relevant target groups in the specific countries have several points of reference in common as well as differing in typical national peculiarities. This provides a basic approach for global strategies and local marketing.

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