Global Growing Pains: Issues for Multinational Businesses

Multinational Businesses Must Consider Cultural Inticacies

Expanding your business into the global market is an exciting venture but it is also a complex one. Understanding the various problems that can arise through the course of global business growth is vital in the early stages of expansion and development.

For multinational businesses, business problems tend to fall into into one of two categories: cultural intricacies and marketing. Both areas play a considerable role in the successes and failures of an international organization. Leaders who fail to understand the various customs and legal procedures risk racking up unnecessary costs due to inefficient procedures and operational blunders. Those who neglect to address marketing concerns risk inconsistent messaging and inefficient marketing spend.

The stakes are high when it comes to the level of capital required to invest in global expansion. We’ve pinpointed the top problems faced by global brands in terms of both cultural intricacies and marketing respectively.

Cultural Intricacies

Penetrating global markets is a dynamic process. Leaders, divisions and partners are expected to be flexible in determining how the business model translates. This requires applying research into how business is conducted in various global regions. Laws, regulations, customs and logistics procedures vary from country to country and they need to be addressed before immersion. Without a formal understanding of what you will encounter in a market, you are increasing your chances of failure.

“The stakes are high when it comes to the level of capital required to invest in global expansion.”

This also applies to cultural norms. How does business work in any given country? Have your PR and marketing departments taken into consideration different cultural values, norms or even taboos? How does this change your approach? Let’s take a more in-depth look.

Legal Issues: Legal issues are one of the biggest problems leaders face when dealing with their global brands. According to Small Business Chronicle contributor Van Thompson, without proper legal advice legal complexities can seriously impact an organization’s finances via fines and penalties.

Successful global companies employ international lawyers. These lawyers are responsible not only for legal proceedings, but also must educate organizational leaders on how in-region laws impact day to day business procedures. Having a better individual understanding helps you make more informed business decisions and with the backing of skilled lawyers you should be well-protected. Knowledge is the major key to combating legal problems as most of the information is readily available; it just needs to be accessed.

Cultural Education: Gaining a good understanding of a market’s cultural preferences or tendencies can be a major roadblock for many leaders. Don’t make the assumption that global businesses run like their headquarter counterparts. Like legal issues, this can largely be addressed with diligent research.

“The logistics process involves a lot of trial and error.”

Pull up articles on what a typical business meeting looks like in Spain. What is the standard dress code in Iceland? Do your Chinese counterparts expect formal greetings in a meeting? All of this information can help prepare you for your business dealings. Cultural norms vary widely, explained Trade Ready contributor Louei Ali. While some leaders expect punctuality, others regularly show up to meetings 15 minutes late. Learn the differences to avoid a cultural clash.

Logistics: Logistics problems are almost unavoidable when it comes to global business dealings. This involves hiccups with shipping, customs issues and transportation mistakes. More than anything, this process involves a lot of trial and error, explained Ali. His company eventually became so accustomed to the process that the employees created their own system for shipping documents.

Distribution of documents and other content is prone to problems with international destinations. Ali and his company’s process had to commandeer clearing agents and document validation from customs. Cloud-based printing applications, like Mimeo PrintX, produce and distribute relevant materials locally – bypassing the time and costs associated with fees, duties, tariffs and customs. Take the time to understand how the system works and then make the system work for you to avoid unnecessary spend of resources and capital.

Multinational Businesses Must Market Globally

Marketing Globally

In 2016 an estimated 1 trillion dollars will be spent on global media, marketing and advertising, reported Ebiquity. Companies have a larger international reach than ever before. It’s for that reason that the global marketing stakes are higher than ever. There can be a lot of trepidation surrounding the introduction of a product into a new market, and rightfully so. Sometimes a top-seller in one country is a total failure in another. Branding and messaging often function as the deciding factor between a win and a loss. Here are three common hurdles:

International Coordination: In a survey of senior marketers, Freedman International set out to understand the major problems these professionals face in their global marketing efforts. One of the most cited issues had to do with international coordination. While communication is more advanced than ever, expectations are through the roof.

For global brands executing a coordinated marketing effort across regions can be a difficult task due to competing priorities. “People tend to be focused on their own regions first and do not always understand the global context,” explained Mintel Group’s Global Director of Marketing Grant Westbrook. Leaders should look to improve internal coordination to ensure optimal campaign consistency. This can include things like roll-out dates, the use of global brand guides and increased inter-office communication.

“The alignment of messaging with cultural and social sensitivities is crucial in global marketing.”

Factoring in Cultural Preferences: An ample understanding of culture plays a critical role in effective global branding and marketing. Without it, marketing efforts by businesses can fail to translate or resonate with a given audience. According to Reynolds, a major step toward marketing success in new markets involves a deep understanding of the local consumer’s mindset.

Marketing respondents from the Freedman survey echoed this notion. The alignment of messaging with cultural and social sensitivities is a crucial piece of the global marketing puzzle. Companies must be able to strike a distinct balance with their international efforts. This involves retaining your business’s core values and messaging within a different cultural framework.

Addressing the Competition: In a new market it is more important than ever to do ample research on your competitors.

Reynolds suggested identifying major local players from the outset. Identify media spend trends, emerging product types and content formatting. This information can not only help you better craft effective global marketing but can provide you with the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Global brands face a mountain of unique challenges. Keeping tabs on the different preferences within different markets is no easy task but it is critical for success. New international players should keep tabs on the problems mentioned above and work to address them before they even begin.

 

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