SME’s Global Marketing Strategy – An Analysis and Evaluation | Global Economy

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Introduction to a Global Economy

An analysis and evaluation of an SME’s global marketing strategy

1. Introduction

Globalization has reciprocally developed economies all over the world, breaking down the boundaries of financial and economic exchanges, and leading to the rise of a global finance syndicate. Globalization is now a domineering phenomenon driving corporations and their financial strategies. Companies and start-ups are becoming global contestants investing across borders, which is an outcome of the globalization of the economy of the world (Enahoro, 2014). This revolution is giving rise to opportunities for large and medium-scale enterprises to level up their market get into the international business and expand their productions and marketing globally.

Before stepping into any international market, companies need to analyze the market, the economy of the market, and the cultural aspects of the people.  Culture is what constitutes the institutional connection that economists should understand before planning or taking any steps in any business or marketing plan for a brand (Naresh K. Malhotra, 1996). It is not likely that the present generation will witness a global culture where nations have homogenously bonded their cultures to form a single one. So, the current domain of cultural analysis involves “country clusters”. The clusters enigmatically capture the essence of most globalization literature that is focused on finding similar threads across nations to reason a more simplified, ostensibly more efficient, and honest approach to global brand management.

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2. Curiscope

A Brighton-based startup by designers, engineers, and animators is on a journey to reform the learning process for youngsters by integrating Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality with the basic learning process. It offers learning animations and VR to engage young learners with the content. The company was started in the year 2016 by Ed Barton and Ben Kidd. The company was brought together by the idea of providing extraordinary experiences to kids and adults while learning and helping them discover through the possibilities provided by Virtual Reality.

Its products involve “Virtual-Tee” which helps students interact with a T-shirt through a smartphone application with real-life animations to introduce to human anatomy. Its other products involve ‘Great White Sharks’ which offers a 360 experience and knowledgeable content to students. It is established in the UK and functions in the US as well. Curiscope plans to change the course of education through Augmented Reality one day.

The company has come a long way since its establishment. Curiscope received Seed funding of $1M from LocalGlobe in September 2017. It also has a crowdfunding of $117,436 from 1,764 backers across Indiegogo and Kickstarter. The products also have undergone several upgrades since they first came out. The company provides its products through its website as well as online retail stores like Amazon. The company does not have any retail stores as of now.

Curiscope faces competition in regional as well as global markets with companies like Fox3D, Gravity Jack, and SpaceView.

3. Marketing Mix elements and Cultural Theory

Regional need for services and products, technology advancements, pressure to reduce product costs, leverage opportunities, and pressure to provide better quality and reduce the cost of production calls for globalization (ĐORĐEVIĆ, 2017). Different cultures call for different needs, and it is equally important to recognize the needs in the country cluster as it is to maintain the cultural compatibility of our service or product.  A difference in culture also implies a difference in the attitude, needs, and behavior of a consumer. Simply stated, a particular marketing policy might be effective in one culture cluster, but not be effective in others and might even cause misunderstanding or conflicts. Adapting to diverse cultural backgrounds and blending them can regional inhabitants recognize it (ĐORĐEVIĆ, 2017). So the process of marketing from a product of one culture into another or one country to another requires deep scientific analysis and research of the difference in cultures. Only then successful marketing and advertising schemes can be devised that will be accepted by society.

In a context of tumultuous global economic upheavals and widespread anticipation of enterprise-led growth, starting up, growing, and sustaining small to medium enterprises requires refining and honing specialized skills to deliver superior value to customers whose definition of value changes all the time. Successful entrepreneurship, be it on a small or medium level, contributes significantly to the economy through job creation, widening the economy, and generating a flow of cash.

 Some marketing mix elements have been discussed about Curiscope to analyze the strategies applied by the company and to suggest a further approach in the global market.

3.1 Product

The product is the commodity or the service to be provided to the consumer or buyer. Aspects of the product cover its specifications and pre-negotiated prices. Factors influencing the aspects of the product or the service are mostly brand, qualities, nature, labeling, or presentation. The adoption of a product in any culture mostly depends on how relatable it is to the people or how conflicted it is with their opinions and ideologies (Kotler, 2003).

Curiscope offers two products in the European and American markets. These include the Virtual Tee T-shirt and the Multiverse poster series. Both can be accessed virtually through a smartphone application available on the iOS app store or the Google Play store. The Virtual-Tee is a T-shirt labeled with systematic points and when the T-shirt is accessed through the app, it turns live and displays the anatomy of the human body through the wearer of the T-shirt. The T-shirt is 100% cotton, durable, and comes in all sizes that are normally available in the market. Similarly, the Multiverse poster series when accessed through the app turns live and shows virtual animations and videos of different planets and stars with audio explanation. Both the products’ animations can be interacted with to give an enhanced learning experience.

Culture plays a big role in deciding the features and specifications of the products. Some cultures are open-minded while others are conservative (Patrick, 2012). It is important to make necessary changes in the product according to the needs of the target market before launching the product. One example of this is Unilever which changed the band and product name according to cultural diversity. A cleaning liquid product by Unilever is sold by different brand names like Vis in Germany, Jif in Britain and France, and Cif in France and South Asian countries. So, the R&D team should be well aware of the cultural norms and make changes if necessary to the products customizing them according to the target markets. E.g. Arab countries are quite conservative and the females there do not wear T-shirts. So, launching the product directly as it is might not be successful. But some changes like designing the same product on some regional clothing might lead to better chances of success.

Culture also plays a role in deciding the packaging of the product. Some cultures give more preference to the overall view of the output, while some do not care much about it (Oosthuizen, 2004). Some cultures also relate hygiene and the quality of the product to the way it is presented. It is, therefore, important for SMEs to adjust the overview of their product according to which culture the product is being introduced into (Stayman, 2003). For example, Korean and Japanese people relate hygiene and quality of the product with its packing and might not buy the product if not properly packed according to their expectations. On the other hand, South African countries relate the quality of the product to the country of origin. So, Curiscope must take help and coaching from cultural experts and designers to label and design the packaging according to the expectations of the locals.

3.2 people

To have fluid employees who are reasonable in their approach toward different cultures, cross-cultural training is necessary. It also provides a safe environment for employees from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Curiscope needs to keep in mind the implications diversity can have on the local employees of the company and also the legal implications if irresponsible behavior is followed against them. For example, an employee from the United States is likely to have an individualized approach while working, while employees from Japan have a team-centric approach to working. For both of them to be working in a team or to undergo a trade negotiation, both must have a fair share of knowledge of each other’s work culture.

Also, for Curiscope to enter into global markets, the employees must have an adequate outlook and understanding of other cultures so that the marketing process works efficiently. This will require cross-cultural training of the employees. Mariadoss (2016) defines the purpose of cross-cultural training as cultivating four basic characteristics in employees- preparedness, sensitivity, patience, and flexibility. The methods of cultivating and promoting these values may range from training sessions to field projects. Some key topics to be taught in these training programs are cultural empathy, understanding stereotypes, language, and accent, embracing diversity, socio-cultural norms, and the philosophy of people (Shaw, 2000). Let us consider another example of Japan. Japanese community is moving towards a minimalistic lifestyle and also prefers to sit on the ground at home. So, a beanbag is less likely to sustain in the future and companies should avoid inventing in that domain. Creating cultural diversity can be divided into a three-stage process that slowly escalates the process of adapting to cultural diversity.

3.3.1 Creating Cross-Cultural Awareness:

It is essential to establish awareness first-hand in employees. They should know the basic elements of the different cultures and their own while working across cultural diversity (Mueller, 2005). They should be instructed about their cultural constituents who influence their faith, knowledge, perspective, judgment, and understanding. At the same time, they should be aware of the different cultures of others. Everybody should be adjusted to a situation of comparison and differences between the various cultures. This would develop the knowledge base of distinctive cultures of management and workers of the company. Exercises and activities will help employees develop a broader view of the world.

These exercises should be able to generate a feeling of pride in one’s own culture and acceptance and respect towards others. This assists a lot in advancing toward a new organizational culture out of heterogeneity. This is an essential task in the globalization of the world. This affects understanding, nature, teamwork, participation, and efficiency.

To generate awareness properly, managers should have a meticulous understanding of different cultures. Cross-cultural training is extremely crucial for developing more solid relationships business partnerships and alliances.

3.2.3 Providing Cross-Cultural Education:

The employees are given training in the field of management in various work cultures. The purpose of the aforementioned education is to impart knowledge to the employees regarding the administration of corporations in various countries. Based on understanding and experience, the comparison is reasonable and of these measures, the best methods, techniques, and approaches can be identified and practiced to influence the business and perception of the consumers, clients, and general public as a whole. This becomes very important for the companies that carry out trade across borders in global markets.

Curiscope is a budding startup and has limited human resources. To succeed in the international market, the employees of Curiscope need to be well-educated in terms of cultural awareness. The developers need to be completely aware of the cultural ethics and requirements before designing the product, the marketing team needs to have knowledge and awareness of the marketing practices accepted in the target market, the finance team has to be acquainted with the country’s policies, and so on. It will keep the team updated with information about different strategies, techniques, and management mechanisms used by different companies in the target cultural cluster. It will also provide information about how culture affects business and the perception of people towards any product by highlighting the variations in different cultures.

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3.3 Promotion

Promotion refers to methods in which that company or representative communicates with consumers regarding the service or product. The promotion aims at introducing the product to the customer and inducing them to prefer it over other products available in the market. The strategies involved in the promotion can be marketing, advertisement, direct one-to-one marketing, other means of promotion, or all of these (Simon Kwok, 2005). Curiscope has followed the aim of promotion through different techniques. Most of their educational products like the Virtual Tee are advertised through social media to parents and educators. Apart from this, Curiscope is also becoming visible through endorsements by providing its products to education institutes where the students can learn from it as well as opt to buy it personally to get a better experience. This method of marketing has been quite successful for the company keeping in mind that the major target customer base is students and learners who want to explore education through the eyes of Augmented Reality.

The nature of the promotion strategy used is determined by the lifestyle reliance and loyalties of the people of the community. The product is aimed at the youth of the country and has been promoted effectively through social media marketing. Apart from these modern strategies, the company also uses e-mail marketing to reach out to potential customers by sending in product descriptions and uses. The last 12 months have seen a rise in the engagement of emails sent out for marketing (Price, 2020). Thus, reaching out to customers through formal emails is also a good idea, as long as those emails are seen and not diverted to spam.

Advertising aims at passing information about the company or product through non-personal means like newspapers, televisions, posters, and other such means. The aim is to communicate the message to as many people in a short time as possible. However, these methods are more expensive and less directed. Considering the type of product provided, Curiscope has avoided mainstream advertising.

Before marketing the product globally, Curiscope should study the demographics and the culture of the target market properly to come up with effective plans to promote the product. E.g. in a country with less internet and social media usage, digital marketing might not be a good option. Also, the type of promotion technique that has been most effective in that economy should be studied and applied accordingly. For an SME to succeed, it should be flexible and adaptable to the market needs and trends (Shaw, 2000).

3.4 Price

Pricing is a really important marketing mix of all the mixes as it generates income. Apart from all other features and marketing of the product, price determines the most whether the product will be accepted by the people or not (Hermeking, 2005). The price of a product is defined as the customer’s perception of the value of the product for sale. It is important to know the consumer’s expectations of the product and the price they are expecting for that service.

Companies use various factors while determining their pricing policy. Pricing of products in international markets becomes complex due to more variables getting involved. The Curiscope smartphone application comes free of cost; however, the T-shirt that is needed to access comes at a justified cost of £26.99 in Europe or $32.95 in the US. Similarly, their second product, the Earth Poster comes for £19.99 in Europe and $19.95 in the US. This price comes with the taxes and shipping excluded.

The price is justified in terms of competition as well which needs to be taken into account while dealing with customers. Competitor companies like SpaceView and Wolf3D have similar prices for their products.

Global marketing means competition more than just the European companies. The rise of AR has led to the development of SMEs like Curiscope in many countries. Before setting the price in a new global market, Curiscope should consider the existing regional companies offering similar products and the prices that they offer. It is important to cover all the aspects while deciding the product price. The price should cover the production cost, maintain profits, contribute to the product’s image, and counter competition as well.

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It is also suggested that Curiscope seeks expert guidance from regional experts to have a successful pricing scheme. The first step for managers and negotiators should be to explore the target market and examine social, cultural, and physiological influences on the consumer. Next is to identify possible competitors in the market. Keeping all these in mind, a suitable product price can be decided.

4. Recommendations

Curiscope holds a potential market in many developing as well as developed countries. South African and Asian countries hold a market in the schooling domain where products for the interactive education of students can be marketed. The global industry holds a market for animation and gaming. In conclusion, we have a lot of potential to invest in other countries.

4.1 Global and Local Management

Global expansion should not imply the absence of local, culture-specific market plans. Both should complement each other to get the best results. Curiscope should hire regional experts for this task, who understand the market structure well. They should work under the strategy that global marketing will set the parameters and structure within which the local or regional market operates.

Areas that Curiscope should manage under the global marketing umbrella are branding, budgeting, social media strategies, research strategies, large-scale campaigns, and global PR. These things will be better managed by a global approach. The local marketing areas should be concerned with local outreach initiatives, PR initiatives, social campaigns, local events, and partnerships. This way, the right combination will produce the most optimal results.

4.2 Local Culture

It is important to take care of cultural norms while making decisions regarding selling our product in other countries. Employees will need general cultural awareness to have an open mindset while designing products for countries with different cultures. Managers and negotiators will need specific training and expert guidance from cultural experts in the region of investment. Also, consultation and local experts can be hired in situations for advertisement and sales. It is important that the product be compatible with the culture, and should be designed keeping this in mind.

4.3 Partnership or Collaboration

International markets pose threats in terms of market penetration. It is advisable to have an agile approach and look out for potential partnerships that can help boost Curiscope’s product reach. Partnerships have turned out to be a very successful method for companies looking to in invest in foreign countries. E.g. the partnership between GoPro and Red Bull has simultaneously helped both companies in reaching out to more people and significantly helped in customer engagement. So, a partnership with a company that has a good customer base can be very productive for Curiscope.

4.4 Planning

Global expansion unlike local expansion needs ruthless planning. The company will need a global campaign manager who will be responsible for communication and coordination of the campaigns globally. They should ensure proper communication between different teams and plan accordingly to ensure that the company is ready to deal with any kind of challenges. They will also be responsible for timely planning and implementation by everyone involved. Stepping into global markets can be a nightmare and therefore a qualified global campaign manager will be a real asset to Curiscope.

4.5 Over-Communication

Global marketing means multiple teams being involved, which are miles away from each other. It is important to ensure smooth and frequent communication between these teams. There will be in-market teams and it will be very critical to have a good relationship with them to be updated about the regional markets and keep them updated about the global strategies. Time zones can make this challenging but it is important to create cohesion between these teams. Appropriate communication channels will also be needed by the teams to communicate effectively.

4.6 Local Influencers

Curiscope can turn to local influencers in the field of education who produce content through blogs and social media videos and posts, and have a good following. This can be a very effective strategy to reach out to local people and gain their trust. Coca-Cola applied the same strategy while penetrating the Korean market by reaching out to local moms to write good blogs about their products.

4.7 Events

Sponsoring or organizing local events is also advisable if the right audience is engaged. Such events help create a positive image of the company while also providing a platform to display and sell the products.

5. Conclusion

It can be concluded that adaptation and compromise schools of advertising have significant advantages in the SME sector and are more advantageous for SMEs than the standardization approach. So, Curiscope must study different market cultures and socio-economic cultures before introducing a product.

6. References
  • Cornelius van Heerden, C. B. (2008). The role of culture in the determination of a standardized or localized marketing strategy. South African Journal of Business Management.
  • Cornelius van Heerden, C. B. (2008). The role of culture in the determination of a standardized or localized marketing strategy. Researchgate.
  • ĐORĐEVIĆ, D. (2017). GLOBAL MARKET AND NEW COMPETITIVE RELATIONS. The Review of International Affairs.
  • Enahoro, O. a. (2014). The influence of cultures on global marketing strategies. Researchgate.
  • Hermeking, M. (2005). Culture and Internet Consumption: Contributions from Cross-Cultural Marketing and Advertising Research. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 11, Issue 1, 1 November 2005, .
  • Kotler, P. (2003). Marketing Insights.
  • Mariadoss, B. J. Core Principles of International Marketing.
  • Mueller, R. T. ( 2005). The GLOBE study — applicability of a new typology of cultural dimensions for cross-cultural marketing and advertising research. International Advertising and Communication.
  • Naresh K. Malhotra, J. A. (1996). Methodological issues in crosscultural marketing research: A stateoftheart review. International Marketing Review.
  • Oosthuizen, T. (2004). In Marketing Across Cultures: The World in 2020.
  • Patrick, H. A. (2012). Managing Workplace Diversity: Issues and Challenges. Sage Journals, 12.
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  • Simon Kwok, M. U. (2005). Sales promotion effectiveness: the impact of consumer differences at an ethnicgroup level. Journal of Product & Brand Management.
  • Stayman, D. M. (2003). Situational ethnicity and consumer. Journal of Consumer Research.
  • T.C. Melewar, C. V. (2004). International advertising strategy: A review, reassessment, and recommendation.

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