Three cultures of international marketing

Date of publication: September 1, 1999

Author: Judie Lannon


Three considerations of the idea of ‘culture’ interact to question the inevitability of ‘global’ brands. Consumer culture, marketing culture and the national cultural values that underpin decision making all have significant implications for multinational corporations. This leads to the conclusion that although all major companies will be marketing internationally and that there will be many genuinely global brands, the majority will not be. The model of the centralised transnational company is founded on a fundamental contradiction which is the need for global cost rationalisation. Local sensitivities to consumer tastes, changes in distribution, new competition and other local activities will require a much stronger local presence than the prototypical transnational corporation typically allows for. Companies need to develop structures that can identify and manage their profitable but few in number international brands, while at the same time responding quickly and sensitively to activities at the local level. The world has not become ‘homogenised’ as predicted, but rather personalised and customised.

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