Managing the international brand

This is the first phase of the brand planning process. In brand planning the manager needs to look at everything from the consumer’s point of view, including the definition of the market. One way of defining the market is by asking consumers to state, for each brand bought, what they used it for and when. The other aspect to consider is the brand’s served market. The measurement of brand share and the identification of competitors are both affected by the definition . The served market may be wider than the initial market as well as narrower. Honda has achieved world domination in small combustion engines by defining its market as all applications using such motors- from lawnmowers to generators. The brand strength can carry across these various applications. Morgan , on the other hand, is not competing in the whole car market.

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Buyers and users The marketing management needs to know everything they can about their customers. Basic questions such as: who, what, why, when and where? The focus should be on the product in use; too much brand research concentrates on attributes that are important to the manufacturer, but not necessarily to the user of the product or service. A profound understanding of how people use the brand, where it fits into their lives, what problems are they using it to solve and what other products or services is related to, is crucial to brand planning. Such understanding may be based at least partly on qualitative data, and should always be founded on personal experience. Even the most senior managers ought to be exposed to real consumers regularly.

Segments What segments exist, if any? In mature or maturing markets, a sensitive grasp of the segments that either exist already or can be created is fundamental to successful branding. More difficult-but more important- is to foresee how the segmentation will develop over the years, and what new segments may be emerging. The ability to spot the growth of a segment is very important. Renault saw the emergence of a niche for a new sort of family car, partly influenced by new laws across several countries on child safety- Renault Espace lead for a long time its segment in Europe.

Competitors Marketers today need both a focus on the consumers, but on competitors, too. Predicting the future moves of your competitor is vital, as is identifying possible new competitors; in the increasingly business international world, new competitors are certainly intending to enter many markets. An important Western player will always be preoccupied to know what the Japanese, the Koreans or the Chinese are planning.

After analyzing the market outputs of the analysis should be emphasized in order to begin a draft for planning the brand. The outputs are both qualitative and quantitative- market size, trend, competition and a deep understanding of buyers and users. b .Brand Analysis In the case of a new brand or for a reappraisal of an existing one, this process must involve market research as well as internal discussion. Quantitative research can measure certain aspects of a brand and in some cases even all the aspects regarding the brand.

On the other hand, market research can be over-used. Another perspective point shows that relying on consumer research means reacting quite modestly, this process not assuming necessarily leading the market. In the market research area, all the competitors use the same methods and come up with the same results. The danger is that they design all similar brands. Creativity and innovation will produce the real difference between brands.

The purpose of the research at this stage is introducing a “reality check” to see how consumers respond to a concept, or how they really view an existing brand as opposed to how the producer would like the consumers to see the brand. Positioning  From its popularization in 1970’s, positioning has been an influential idea in branding. Many companies use a “positioning statement” in their brand planning. The concept refers to placing a brand in the mind of the consumer by the company, relative to competitor brands, in a way that points out key differences. O course it is preferable that the brand has an important position on the international market. Volvo has always positioned itself as the car that is above all, safe; BMW is the car not only with status, but also sporting characteristics.

The Brand Planning The brand plan should bring together all the elements emphasized in a brand analysis and in the market analysis into a coherent, focused whole. The main question should imply the mix of products, their right flavors, their right size in according with the needs of the target market. The demands of operational efficiency, the channel of distribution considerations and competition must be planned carefully and be very balanced.

Name The goal is to find a name that expresses the brand essence and is memorable and represents an advantage for the product. A further challenge is to find a name that is narrow enough to be meaningful without limiting later extension. Packaging For some brands the package is a crucial part of a brand’s identity. Apart from the well known Coca-Cola and Marlboro, there are Perrier, Lynx, Heinz and many others, whose design gives instant recognition. In services, the coherence imposed by American Express on its diverse output it is highly appreciated.

Price Inside the brand planning process, pricing is a strategic decision. It is a signal to the market of the quality and value of the brand and as such it cannot be changed easily. Procter and Gamble have adopted a strategy of “everyday low price” to their customers , cutting out expensive promotions that can disrupt production flows and confuse consumers. This initiative, like many others will certainly be copied by many others. International pricing is also an issue, although many brand plans will be confined to a single market. When the brand is sold in many markets, its price in each country should reflect the overall pricing strategy, but be adapted to its local positioning.

This provides opportunities to make higher margins in some countries, where competition is less stiff or the general price level is higher. Variations in the retail price of cars in Europe have received considerable publicity, with Britain always seeming to be the most expensive-it is said to be known as “Treasure Island” among car manufacturers. Sensible brand owners will try to balance the desire to increase margins with the need to offer their consumers value for money.

A too great discrepancy in pricing will only encourage parallel importers to source the brand from cheap countries to supply high-price markets. This causes problems with distributors in the target country and the situation may be also complicated by national or supranational laws or regulations as in the case of pharmaceuticals. Such situations can be dealt with only by offering individual solutions in accordance with each specific situation.