If we’re lucky our cross cultural marketing blunders will only cause great hilarity. When we’re not, they can cause offence and cost us money. Here are a few of the blunders that some ‘big boys’ made. With all their marketing budgets they can still get things wrong. Cross cultural communication runs deep so it is important to research carefully the Cultural Codes for specific products or brands and do some well-undertaken market research.
Below you will find a selection of marketing blunders:
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Marks & Spencer has just learned how expensive the transaction costs in international business are when you don’t do your homework properly. The opening of the first Marks & Spencer store on the Chinese mainland has been beset by many cultural problems – most of which could have been foreseen with a little research. One of the most costly though was their complete lack of Market Research. Sir Stuart Rose, executive chairman of Marks & Spencer, admitted that the company “had misunderstood the local market” by assuming Hong Kong sizing would also apply to the mainland. “Shanghai clothing sizes were based on Hong Kong sizing, but the smaller sizes rapidly sold out” he explained. (FT February 10th 2009). Remember to do your cultural research – you can’t afford to get things wrong!