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Proven strategies for navigating international marketing complexities

By Edward Grice | Head of EMEA



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February 21, 2022 | 5 min read

As the world becomes more interconnected, international marketing has become more essential. Edward Grice, head of EMEA at PMG looks at the evolution of globalization in marketing and provides some tricks for marketers.

PMG on how marketers can best embrace international thinking.

PMG on how marketers can best embrace international thinking.

The 2022 calendar is marked by significant global events, including the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the World Expo in Dubai, and more, allowing for countless storytelling moments for brands on the world stage.

During these global events, sophisticated international marketing will take on an even bigger role as brands engage consumers against the backdrop of significant global economic, social and technological disruption that continues to unfold as the pandemic carries on.

Coupled with new consumer expectations, the digital economy’s exponential growth over the last 20 months demands brands lead with purpose; seamlessly power omnichannel messaging that aligns with local nuances; and offer personalization at scale. While the task of navigating the in-market complexities of countless regions to power international marketing remains daunting, there are time-tested best practices to help brands provide a truly captivating and unique experience no matter where potential customers are located on the map.

Prioritize Agility

The international market is full of nuances, and although consistency across messaging strategies is important, adopting an agile approach to marketing programs helps brands flex to the variances each market will present while opportunities arise for thoughtfully addressing new audiences.

Conduct Extensive Market Research

To help prioritize against the running list of potential markets worth engaging in, identifying a core set of metrics to evaluate against is critical. Typically, this exercise in market research will include a blend of third-party data, such as market size, an in-market competitor analysis, studies on any preexisting brand awareness, and more. Combined with first-party data that can include the sales footprint of the brand and customer purchase behavior in-market, an extensive market research plan and a robust analysis will help determine the viability of a market in helping a brand reach their growth goals. From there, additional research is necessary to understand consumer behavior and the media landscape in a particular region.

Understand the Culture

Localization is a critical component to any international marketing strategy, as is taking the time to understand local media consumption behaviors, cultural calendar, and the media landscape. This is especially true in markets such as Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan, where a small set of media platforms dominate the market, much like in the United States. Additionally, don’t forget localized data privacy regulations or digital taxes that can cause legal headaches later down the line if not prepared for ahead of time.

Developing a Dynamic, Measurable Digital Strategy

Establishing a strong foundation built on extensive market research, brand planning and audience insights will help the adoption of an agile approach much easier. From here, the path forward includes a digital strategy that empowers dynamic activations, authentically engages with the consumer, and allows the brand to test and scale according to the needs of the business. Strategy is only further improved by deploying a scalable measurement solution that provides a detailed account of what’s working and what can be improved upon in market. Ensuring key performance indicators (KPIs) are adjusted for each territory will provide a better lens for assessing the effectiveness of marketing efforts in their totality.

Market leaders, such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Nike, are well-established on the global stage, while digital disrupters such as Airbnb, Netflix, and Spotify—and even PMG customers, such as Beats by Dre and Gap Inc.—capture greater market share every year, with international markets serving as key growth opportunities for these companies. It’s easy to oversimplify the preparation required to activate in new markets, but like all marketing programs, the satisfaction of creating compelling messaging and ad creative to deliver a truly meaningful experience for the consumer makes the due diligence of navigating the complexities of international marketing worth it in the end.

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PMG is a global independent digital company that seeks to inspire people and brands that anything is possible. Driven by shared success, PMG uses strategy, creative, media, and insights, as well as its proprietary marketing intelligence platform Alli, to deliver Digital Made for Humans™. Our team is made up of over 900 employees globally, and our work for brands like Apple, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Dave & Buster's, Experian, Kohler, Nike, Sephora, and Shake Shack runs across 85+ countries and has received top industry recognition from Cannes Lions to Adweek Media Plan of the Year. Ranked by Deloitte, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Adweek as one of the fastest-growing companies in the nation, PMG has grown because of its commitment to continuous improvement, business integrity, cultivating dynamic relationships, and putting people first. Named 9X Ad Age's Best Places to Work, 5X Best Places for Working Parents, Fortune's Best Workplaces for Women and 2X Fast Company's Best Workplaces for Innovators, PMG has also been named to Ad Age's Agency A-List, Adweek's Breakthrough Media Agency of the Year and 2X MediaPost's Independent Agency of the Year.

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