International marketing and global marketing are often used interchangeably as if the two terms are synonymous. However, they actually describe entirely different marketing initiatives. On a high-level, the overarching contrast between international marketing and global marketing revolves around the concept of universalizing product and service marketing tactics.
International Marketing Definition
International marketing refers to marketing action plans, strategies, and tactics created for a particular foreign market. For example, some companies use international marketing tactics by rebranding and re-coloring their packaging for particular countries. Due to the public’s perceptions, preferences, and buying behavior, international research experts make executive decisions to rebrand the color and shape of their packaging to reflect the preference of a specific market. The decision, thus, was not universal by any means – it was initiated and executed in a particular international market based on research performed in the country on consumer buying behavior.
Global Marketing Definition
Global marketing on the other hand refers to marketing tactics deployed on the public in its entirety via digital advertising methods. These tactics are not segregated or curated by country or market, but are universally deployed to all international markets in pursuit. A popular example would be that of Nike’s brand strategy, which consists of global marketing and sales tactics by broadcasting one unified image to all global markets in question. There is complete congruity in marketing message portrayal in all markets – United States, China, Portugal, Italy, etc. Keep in mind that global marketing can become complicated when trying to market universally, so make sure you understand a few indications your global market could be failing.
Top 6 Differences Between International and Global Marketing
While the primary difference between international marketing and global marketing revolves around the universal portrayal or segregation of marketing messages and strategies, other differences do exist. If you are interested in developing an international or export marketing plan, make sure you understand these top 6 differences between international marketing and global marketing.
1) Services and Products
Global marketing strategies focus on universalizing product and service offerings in overseas economies. The goal of a company taking a global marketing approach is to market the same product or service in various countries without modifying the product or marketing message for each overseas country.
International marketing strategies focus on custom-tailoring or creating new products and services to target the market in a specific country. The goal is to break away from universalizing product and service offerings in order to accommodate the particular preferences of an overseas market.
2) Marketing Employees
Companies who take a global marketing approach to product and service advertising generally employ all marketing personnel at the company’s headquarters office in its home country. Since the marketing messages are universal, there is no need to station marketing personnel in international markets.
When taking an international marketing approach, companies will either move headquarters’ marketing employees to foreign countries, or hire expert marketing personnel in the foreign country. An international marketing approach requires intimate knowledge of the country that is being marketed to. Thus, hiring market experts for each foreign country is imperative with an international marketing strategy.
3) Advertising Initiatives
With global marketing, companies seek to air commercials and radio ads that will hit a world-wide audience. The goal is on approaching a medium that has a global reach. This way, the same unified message may be portrayed to a wide range of individuals in various countries.
However, with international marketing, TV commercials and radio ads are rarely applied to multiple overseas markets. The goal is to develop different content for a specific country while connecting with and utilizing media channels that will broadcast the custom-made message to the targeted market only.
4) Social Media
Although it is not always the case, it is usually easy to distinguish between companies taking a global marketing approach and international marketing approach simply based on their social media account(s). In global marketing, a company will (generally) maintain one page on each social media platform.
In international marketing, a company will (generally) open multiple social media accounts – each one targeting a different market or country. This way the company can customize their messages to read in the correct language with the right semantics to ensure accuracy of the intended message in every market. They can also advertise products or service offerings that are only available in a select country without broadcasting the information to everyone.
5) Hierarchy of Decision Making
Since global marketing takes a home-based approach to marketing overseas, almost all marketing-related decisions are made by the marketing department in the home country (this is often the only marketing department.)
With international marketing, the decision making hierarchy is rather decentralized, as foreign offices are given the liberty to take marketing actions based on their perceptions and preferences.
6) Research and Development
Market research and development differs greatly between these 2 marketing approaches. Although the goal is to always be as thorough as possible, global marketing often performs more shallow market research than international marketing. This isn’t necessarily “worse” than performing in-depth research, since the goal of global marketing is to portray the same marketing message to individuals in all countries targeted. All that is needed for a global marketing company is to perform enough research to confirm that there is a need and a market for the company’s products or service offerings in every country they target.
International marketing must be incredibly precise when it comes to market research and development. Since marketing messages are being custom-tailored for each country the company has expanded into, in-depth research and analysis of market trends, preferences, demand, need, competition, and placement strategy must be performed. This doesn’t take much more time than a global marketing company since all foreign offices are responsible for performing and reporting this research on their own.
Companies will often choose between a global marketing or international marketing stance based on their vision and mission statements. Taking either stance is equivalent to declaring and dictating the method through which a company is going to expand into overseas markets.
If a company’s mission and vision statements can be satisfied through global expansion while reformatting, restructuring, and curating content for each individual market it pursues, an international marketing strategy may be best. However, if unified brand image, centralized control, and universal marketing messages are required to maintain compliance with a company’s mission and vision statements, a global marketing stance would prove more effective.
Deciding between a global marketing or international marketing approach to overseas expansion is no simple task. It takes dedicated time and consideration over past and future strategies for controlling and managing brand image, messaging techniques, and PR regulations. Deciding and clearly defining which marketing strategy work best for a company is imperative for any expansions to international markets.