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留学生毕业论文:Standardization versus adaptation of

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EuropeanJournalof Marketing
Standardization versus adaptation of international advertising strategies:Towards a framework
Nikolaos Papavassiliou and Vlasis Stathakopoulos
Department of Management Science and Marketing, Athens Universityof Economics and Business, Athens, Greece
留学生论文网In the international marketing literature the topic of a global marketing mixstrategy has been debated quite extensively (see, for example, Ghoshal, 1987;
Jain, 1989; Levitt, 1983; Quelch and Hoff, 1986). Interestingly, advertising is atthe centre of this debate and receives most of the researchers’ attention. Theissue of advertising standardization in foreign markets was first discussed inthe early 1960s (Elinder, 1961; Fatt, 1964). Since then, the issue has ignited alively and heated debate among scholars and practitioners alike.International advertising standardization refers to using a common approach(i.e. common advertising messages) to promote the same product acrossnational boundaries. Even though the debate on standardized internationaladvertising is ongoing, an examination of previous research in its totalityidentifies two main approaches to international advertising: standardizationand adaptation of advertising campaigns.Proponents of the standardization approach argue that a single advertisingmessage with only minor modifications, or even advertisements with propertranslations, can be used in all countries to reach consumers. The rationalebehind this position is that buyers everywhere in the world share the same, orvery similar, wants and needs and, therefore, can be persuaded by universaladvertising appeals (Buzell, 1968; Fatt, 1967; Killough, 1978; Levitt, 1983;Sorenson and Weichmann, 1975). There are four main reasons that make thisapproach appealing. First, it allows the multinational corporation to maintain aconsistent image and identity throughout the world. Second, it minimizesconfusion among buyers who travel frequently. Third, it allows the multinationalcompany to develop a single, co-ordinated advertising campaign across differentmarkets. Finally, this approach results in considerable savings in media costs,advertising production costs, and advertising illustrative material.In contrast, opponents of the standardization approach argue that separatemessages should be used to reach buyers in different markets by fitting themessage to each particular country (Kotler, 1986). According to this approach,there are insurmountable differences (e.g. cultural, economic, legal, media andproduct dissimilarities) between countries and even between regions in the samecountry. Furthermore, these differences necessitate the adaptation or developmentof new/different advertising strategies. In addition, anecdotal evidence seems tochallenge the basic assumption of the standardization approach by suggestingthat assuming similar buying motives for consumers across foreign markets may,at best, be simplistic and, at worst, dangerous (Helming, 1982; Youovich, 1982).#p#分页标题#e#
However, the decision whether to standardize or not cannot be considered adichotomous one. There are usually degrees of international advertisingstandardization. For example, several academics suggest that standardizingcertain aspects of the advertising campaign while at the same time adaptingother aspects to different market conditions is desirable (see, for example, Light,
1990; Peebles et al., 1977; Quelch and Hoff, 1986). Hence, we take the positionthat international advertising decisions can be viewed on a continuum with thewo polar ends of the continuum being standardization of creative advertisingstrategy and tactics, and adaptation of creative advertising strategy and tactics,respectively. Creative strategy refers to the advertising concept or theme(promise/claim), while creative tactics relates to the way in which theadvertising strategy is expressed or “executed” in the finished advertisements(e.g. visual elements, headlines, content of appeal, process of appeal)(Papavassiliou, 1990). The continuum concept suggests that internationaladvertising decisions must be either standardized or not standardized. If theyare not standardized, then they must be adapted, and hence one needs todetermine which adaptations are most appropriate in different situations.
The intent of this article is to develop a comprehensive framework to capturethe relevant factors/determinants that influence the spectrum of degrees in theadaptation of international advertising decisions. The article is organized asfollows: the first section presents the conceptual framework that will direct ourdiscussion. This framework identifies the factors (“local”, “firm” and“intrinsic”) that affect international advertising decisions. The second, the third,and the fourth section review the local, firm and intrinsic determinantsrespectively. Finally, the fifth section examines the characteristics and theconditions of the proposed international advertising strategy continuum.Conceptual frameworkThe framework shown in Figure 1 identifies three sets of variables (“local”,“firm” and “intrinsic”) which influence the standardization or the degree ofadaptation of advertising strategies on the international advertising strategycontinuum. The first set of determinants, termed “local”, refers to conditionsprevailing in the host country. It includes cultural environment, economicconditions, legal conditions, competition, advertising infrastructure, consumerprofile and country of origin image. The second set of determinants, termed“firm”, pertains to the company’s internal conditions and decisions. It involvesthe managerial and financial characteristics of the organization (i.e. corporatestrategy, internal culture, decision-making authority and financial condition)and the nature of the product. The third set of determinants, termed “intrinsic”,refers to conditions which influence international creative development and
#p#分页标题#e#media planning. This set includes the objectives of international advertisingstrategy, the relationship between multinational advertiser and advertisingagency(ies), the determination of the elements of the communication mix, aswell as the support activities helping and the barriers preventing meeting theadvertising objectives. These three sets of factors constitute the area ofinfluences and are shown to affect international advertising decisionsindividually as well as in interaction with each other. In turn, Figure 1illustrates that the area of international advertising strategies is represented bya continuum with its two polar ends being standardization and adaptation.Local environmental determinantsCultural environment
The cultural environment is the complex set of beliefs, values, norms andattitudes acquired by consumers as part of their national heritage (Britt, 1974).
It has long been considered to have a significant influence on international
Figure 1.
Standardization versus
adaptation of
international
advertising strategies:
towards a framework
Local environmental determinants
• Cultural environment
• Economic conditions
• Legal conditions
• Competition
• Advertising infrastructure
• Consumer profile
• Country of origin Image
Firm environmental determinants
• Managerial and financial characteristics
– Corporate strategy
– Internal culture
– Decision-making authority
– Financial condition of the
organization
• Nature of product
Intrinsic determinants
• International advertising objectives
• Relationship between multinational
advertiser and advertising agency(ies)
• Creative strategy
• Media strategy
• Other elements of the communication-mix
• Support activities and barriers
Standardization of creative
strategy and tactics
A spectrum
of various
degrees of
adaptation
influenced by
the presence or
absence of the
local, firm and
intrinsic
determinants
Adaptation of creative
strategy and tactics
The
international
advertising
strategy
continuum
Area of influences Area of strategies and tactics
Standardization
versus
adaptation
507
advertising strategy (see, for example, Albaum and Peterson, 1984; Britt, 1974;
Donnelly, 1970; Douglas and Dubois, 1977; Harvey, 1993; Kanso, 1992; Mueller,
1992; Onkvisit and Shaw, 1987).
Synodinos et al. (1989), in their study of advertising practices across 15
countries, found striking dissimilarities in these practices. They attributed such
dissimilarities to cultural factors, among other determinants. Kanso (1992)#p#分页标题#e#
examined the international advertising strategies of the Fortune 500 largest
corporations. His findings suggest that advertising messages should fit the
beliefs and traditions of the citizens in each country. Hornic (1980) studied the
degree of transferability of American print advertisements for well-known
American products distributed in Israel. He found that, in most cases, an
adaptive advertising strategy was followed and suggested that the creative
aspects of advertising should be adapted to the cultural and marketing
characteristics of each foreign market. Tse et al. (1986) examined the influence of
values on international marketing decisions made by executives in China, Hong
Kong, and Canada. They found significant differences that could be attributed to
the cultural norms of these countries. In addition, Graham et al. (1993), in their
study of how the home-country culture influences a firm’s marketing strategies
in foreign markets, found that German and Japanese companies adapt their
advertising strategies to foreign markets, albeit to different degrees.
Meuller (1987) found that traditional cultural values have an impact on
advertising message appeals. For example, Japanese magazine advertisements
tend to use more “soft-sell” and status appeals and fewer information appeals,
and to show more respect towards elders than American counterpart
advertisements. These results are consistent with those of a study by Hong et al.
(1987) that demonstrated the importance of stressing status symbols in
Japanese advertisements and emphasizing individual determinism in American
advertisements. Lin (1993) replicated Mueller’s results by finding that Japanese
TV advertisements are less informative than their US counterparts. Further,
Miracle et al. (1992) concluded from their study of Korean and US television
advertisements that cultural variables account for the differences identified in
advertising executions in the two countries. In a follow-up study, Mueller (1992)
examined the degree to which Japanese advertising is “westernized” (see also
Belk and Polay, 1985). She concluded that Japanese advertisements are still far
from being westernized and, hence, that using western advertising techniques
in Japan would be inappropriate. Finally et al. (1993) studied the content of
humorous television advertising in Korea, Germany, Thailand and the USA.
They found that the content (i.e. humour) of the advertisements varies among
those countries according to cultural dimensions.
Boote (1982), in his empirical comparative study of value structures in the UK,
Germany and France concluded that the underlying similarity in the value
structure of these three societies suffices to warrant a standardized advertising
strategy. He further suggested that any differences between those countries could#p#分页标题#e#
be accommodated by “minor thematic variations” in the advertising messages or
by avoiding the elements of difference. Mueller (1991) studied the effects of
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“cultural distance” by examining the cultural differences between the USA and
Germany, on the one hand, the USA and Japan on the other. Cultural distance is
the degree of difference between message senders and message receivers
(Samover et al., 1981). She found that a standardized approach to advertising was
more likely when cultural distance was small (i.e. when the cultures were similar).
Hence, standardized advertising messages were more common for advertisements
transferred between the USA and Germany than for advertisements transferred
between the USA and Japan. In the latter countries, we have the hard-sell and softsell
approach in advertising, respectively. In addition, the primacy of individual
gratification prevails in the USA, while in Japan the emphasis is on group norms
(Johansson, 1994). Andrews et al. (1994) found that Russian consumers are not as
acculturated to the world of advertising as are US consumers. Hence, it is very
doubtful whether sexual and other imagery-eliciting stimuli could be used in
advertising products because Russian advertisements are at an underdeveloped
level, and do not follow western-style advertising (Wells, 1994). Foreign firms that
did not take into account cultural differences often left the Soviets with a feeling of
ignorance of these differences and insincerity towards any long-term commitment
to develop the Soviet market. Finally, Zandpour et al. (1994), in a study concerning
a lot of countries, found that cultural traits such as individualism-collectivism,
uncertainty avoidance, power distance and perception of time independently
affect creative strategy and tactics.
The findings from the last set of studies cited seem to suggest that an
interesting and perhaps useful approach to determining the degree of
international advertising standardization may be to cluster countries on the
basis of their cultural similarities. Sriram and Gopalakrishna (1991) identified
six groups of countries and argued that advertising standardization could be
attempted within each group by employing similar but not identical advertising
messages. Support for this position is provided by Whitelock and Chung (1989)
who studied print advertisements for perfume and beauty products in France
and the UK, two countries that are classified as dissimilar in cultural terms in
the Sriram and Gopalakrishna study (1991). They found little evidence of fully
standardized advertising strategies even though the two countries are similar in
their stage of economic development. However, Katz and Lee (1992) failed to
show that the USA and the UK, two countries considered to be culturally#p#分页标题#e#
similar in the Sriram and Gopalakrishna study, have similarities in advertising
messages. They attributed the finding that US television advertisements are
“people-oriented” whereas UK advertisements are “product-oriented” to
cultural differences. Despite the contradictory empirical findings, searching for
bases/criteria to identify clusters of countries within which advertising can be
standardized is an intriguing area for future research.
Another culturally-oriented factor concerning standardization versus
adaptation of international advertising strategies is cross-cultural media habits. In
a study comparing US and French consumers’ media habits, it was found that US
consumers rely considerably more on television and print advertising than French
consumers for information regarding new products and services (Green and
Standardization
versus
adaptation
509
Langeard, 1975). Furthermore, French consumers were reported to watch less
television and subscribe to fewer magazines than US consumers. Consequently,
differences in media habits found between French and US consumers make the
development of different advertising strategies in France and the USA necessary.
A more recent study found that compared to consumers in North America, Latin
American consumers are exposed to more radio and less print media, while Asian
consumers spend the highest proportion of their media time on television, and less
on radio and newspapers (World Advertising Expenditures, 1986). As a result, the
differences existing among inhabitants of different countries with respect to their
media habits may lead to different effectiveness for different media. Finally, Lee
and Tse (1994), in their study of changes in the media habits of immigrant
consumers, found that though immigrants do not increase their total media
consumption, their consumption across different media types follows both
assimilation and ethnic affirmation models.
Economic conditions
The economic conditions prevailing in the host country are of major concern in
influencing international strategy (Britt, 1974; Donnelly, 1970; Harvey, 1993;
Onkvisit and Shaw, 1987). Dunn (1976) identified 31 environmental variables as
important determinants of the transferability of advertising strategies. Among
them are many economic-oriented variables, such as rate of economic growth,
per capita income and distribution of income, attitudes toward wealth and
monetary gain, import duties and quotas, and development and acceptance of
international trademarks. Hite and Frazer (1988) surveyed successful US
multinational companies to determine the importance of factors influencing the
transferability of advertising strategies. Overall, their results substantiated
those reported by Dunn (1976). However, they found changes in the relative#p#分页标题#e#
importance of several factors. One of these factors was the rate of economic
growth, which seemed to have diminished in importance. Perhaps major world
markets and economies had reached a level of “economic similarity” that made
the distinction between “rich” and “poor” countries difficult. Kaynak and
Mitchell (1981) analysed marketing communication strategies in Turkey, Canada
and UK and found them to be influenced significantly by the stage of economic
development and other market-based variables of the host country. Finally,
James and Hill’s (1991) survey findings suggest that advertising standardization
is more likely in less affluent countries than in more affluent countries because of
undersupply economies, less competition and less sophisticated consumers.
Legal conditions
Laws regulating advertising practices differ among countries (Boddewyn, 1981;
Harvey, 1993; Jain, 1989). In fact, Harvey (1993) reported that multinational
corporations face greater advertising regulation by foreign governments today
than ever before. Such laws and regulations can affect the applicability of a
standardized advertising strategy. Rau and Preble (1987) suggested that
multinational corporations should analyse the host country’s regulatory
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policies towards multinational corporations in developing their marketing mix
strategies. For example, comparative advertising is not allowed in many
countries. Some countries (e.g. France and Germany) have made corrective
advertising a standard practice.
Competition
Only recently has research in international advertising examined the effect of
competition on international advertising strategy. Harvey (1993) argued that
the industry structure (e.g. oligopoly vs monopoly), the influence of suppliers,
the company’s market position (e.g. leader or follower), and the consumers’
bargaining power are all important variables that could affect the degree of
advertising standardization. In the same vein, Jain (1989) suggested that the
presence of local and international competitors may necessitate a higher degree
of adaptation simply to match local conditions. Hout et al. (1982) noted that
competitive forces may dictate different advertising objectives in different
countries, thus precluding advertising standardization. In fact, Porter (1986)
suggested that, through competitive analysis, multinational corporations can
gain a “competitive advantage” for the role of advertising in their marketing
strategies in foreign markets. However, the exact way competition affects the
degree of international advertising standardization has not yet been
established, and additional empirical research is warranted on this issue.#p#分页标题#e#
Advertising infrastructure
The advertising infrastructure of a country consists of the institutions and
functions essential to the advertising process, such as availability of media, the
structure of media, availability of technical equipment, local advertising
experience and staff talent. The availability, performance and cost aspects of
the advertising infrastructure can affect the degree of advertising
standardization (Harvey, 1993; Jain, 1989; Jif et al., 1984; Shao and Hill, 1992).
For example, a company may use television advertisements to reach the
target market in one country, but it may be forced to use print media in another,
because TV cannot reach the target audience or perhaps because it is too
expensive. Peebles et al. (1977) indicated that advertising standardization is
most feasible in countries that have a well-developed advertising infrastructure.
Similarly, Mueller (1991) found that advertising standardization was more likely
for television advertisements than for print advertisements.
Consumer profile
Consumer profiles encompass the demographic, psychographic, and
behavioural characteristics of consumers in the host country (see e.g. Onkvisit
and Shaw, 1987). International marketing and advertising strategies have
always been based on consumers’ perceptions, attitudes, consumption patterns
and usage habits. Basically, all studies in this area have tried to answer the
fundamental question of how “homogeneous” consumers are from one country
to another in their consumption profiles.
Standardization
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Proponents of the standardization approach assume that consumers are
essentially homogeneous across countries because human wants and needs are
more or less universal. However, Britt (1974) challenged this assumption by
arguing that even though the tangible characteristics of a product may be
perceived in the same way by consumers in different countries, the
“consumption patterns” of the product may vary widely. Sheth (1983) echoed
this view by arguing that international advertising messages depend on
customers’ expectations about the product, the operation of the encoding and
decoding mechanisms, and silent language differences.
Empirical studies in the 1960s and 1970s seem to support these arguments.
For example, Green and Langeard (1975) found that French and American
innovators differed in their demographic characteristics and media habits for
grocery products and retail services. Green et al. (1975) showed that product
attributes are perceived differently in terms of their importance by consumers
in the USA, France, India and Brazil. In addition, Hornik (1980) noted a lack of
perceptual homogeneity by finding major attitude and perception differences
between American and Israeli consumer groups receiving the same product#p#分页标题#e#
advertisements. Finally, Kreutzer (1988) developed a framework for “marketing
mix standardization” in which he emphasized the importance of the host
country and its customers’ identity.
However, several scholars have suggested the possibility of identifying welldefined
customer groups (intermarket segments) across countries that are
similar enough in their consumption profile characteristics to represent a
“homogeneous market” and thus make standardized advertising feasible (Jain,
1989; Kale and Sudharshan, 1987; Simmonds, 1985). In one such empirical
study, Boote (1982) attempted to “segment” consumers in Germany, the UK and
France on the basis of their psychographic traits. However, a re-analysis of the
data indicated, contrary to Boote’s claims, that the consumer segments in those
countries were not similar enough to warrant a standardized advertising
approach (Onkvisit and Shaw, 1987). Nevertheless, should the segmentation
concept prove to be valid and practical in foreign markets, a company will be
able to use a standardized advertising strategy (see e.g. Samiee and Roth, 1992).
Country-of-origin image
The country-of-origin image concept can assist advertising managers to
understand the target market, to make a suitable positioning of the product and to
develop effective advertising messages. Three facets (i.e. general country
attributes, general product attributes and specific product attributes) describe the
current conceptualization of the country-of-origin image (see Parameswaran and
Pisharodi, 1994). The first facet is related to attributes about the economic,
political and cultural characteristics of the product’s country of origin. The second
facet is composed of characteristics regarding the capacity of the country to
produce quality products in general. Finally, the third facet relates to attributes,
which include product-, marketing-, and firm goodwill- related characteristics of
the specific product. Relating to standardization versus adaptation of
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international advertising strategies, Parameswaran and Pisharodi (1994) found
that the number of facets of the country-of-origin image is principally stable
whereas the attributes composing a facet may be country dependent. The result is
that the attributes contributing to any particular country-of-origin image facet
may differ across countries. Hence, differences among consumers across different
host countries in how they evaluate country-of-origin image can be used to guide
the development of customized advertising messages. In addition, Lim et al. (1994)
found that the presentation format of the country of origin, with or without
product attributes, depends on the nature of the product, the target market and the#p#分页标题#e#
level of the image of the country of origin. This presentation format of the country
of origin may differ across different host countries; therefore, it can influence the
development of a standardized or adapted international advertising strategy.
Firm environmental determinants
Managerial and financial characteristics
Quelch and Hoff (1986) indicated that a company’s business strategy will
determine the approach it takes to global marketing/advertising strategies (i.e.
whether to standardize or not). In addition, Szymanski et al. (1993) viewed the
marketing strategy formulation process in multinational corporations as a
series of decisions about overall strategic orientation (standardization vs
adaptation), the desired degree of standardization of the strategic resource mix,
and the desired degree of standardization of the strategy content.
Similarly, Kanso (1992) observed that international managers were either
“culturally oriented” (i.e. host-country oriented) or “non-culturally oriented (i.e.
home-country oriented) in their international advertising strategies (cf.
Perlmutter, 1969). His findings indicate that culturally-oriented executives
apply the adaptation approach more than non-culturally-oriented executives.
Another organizational factor affecting advertising standardization is the
degree to which the firm centralizes/decentralizes its advertising decisions and
how much control is exercised over the subsidiary activities (Harvey, 1993; Jain,
1989). In the case of complete centralization and control, all decisions about
campaign preparation, media selection and budgeting are made in the “home”
office. In contrast, complete decentralization implies that all such decisions are
made in the host country.
Quelch and Hoff (1986) urged that to motivate and retain advertising
managerial talent in the host country, a bottom-up (decentralized) approach be
used in the development of advertising strategies and budgets. They further
suggested that local managers can have an important and critical role in creating
new advertising ideas and in establishing relationships with the necessary and
appropriate local firms. Aylmer’s (1970) finding that local managers had
responsibility for 86 per cent of all advertising decisions seems to support this
position. Kanso (1991) provides further support for this argument (cf. Brandt
and Huldbert, 1977). In his study of the practices of American multinational
corporations in choosing an advertising agency (American vs foreign) in the
host country, he found a trend towards decentralization of advertising efforts
Standardization
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adaptation
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and adaptation to the foreign market. In another study, Schoefield (1991)
compared international advertising practices (among them budget-setting#p#分页标题#e#
methods) of firms in the UK and 15 other countries. He did not directly examine
whether a centralized or a decentralized advertising budgeting approach was
used, but the fact that the objective and task method was most favoured (64 per
cent) seems to indicate that an adaptation strategy was used (cf. Synodinos et al.,
1989). In sum, when a large power is in the hands of the regional country
managers, an adapted or customized advertising strategy is likely to prevail.
Finally, the financial condition of the organization will have an effect on
international advertising strategy. If the organization experiences difficult
financial conditions, in terms of both decreasing sales and/or profits and a bleak
economic forecast for the firm, one would expect a shift away from adapted to
standardized international advertising strategy. Under tough financial
conditions the firm can follow a standardized approach and experience savings
in media costs, advertising production costs and advertising illustrative
material (Ringlstetter and Skrobarczyk, 1994).
Nature of the product
The nature of the product is considered to be the most significant factor
influencing the degree of international advertising strategy (Harvey, 1993). The
product aspects that affect the standardization decision are product type,
product involvement, product life cycle and culture-bound appeal.
Boddewyn et al. (1986), reporting data from a longitudinal study of US
companies’ marketing practices in the European Economic Community, found
standardized advertising messages to be more feasible for industrial goods than
for consumer goods. Culter and Javalgi (1994) found that, in principle, businessto-
business advertising has greater potential for standardized global advertising
and only in the area of the executional elements (creative tactics) can we have
some adaptation across different host countries. In the consumer goods category,
standardization is considered to be more applicable for durable products than for
non-durable products because the latter appeal to tastes, habits and customs that
are thought to be unique in each society (Douglas and Urban, 1977). Empirical
evidence for this position comes from two studies. First, Farley (1986) concluded
from his meta-analysis that durable goods are “relatively advertising
insensitive” (i.e. suitable for advertising standardization) in comparison with
non-durable goods. Second, Sandler and Shani (1992) surveyed Canadian
consumer goods firms about their advertising practices and found advertising to
be standardized more for durable than for non-durable goods.
According to Zaichkowsky (1986), product involvement has important
implications for developing advertising strategies and messages. A consumer
goods product category may consist of high-involvement products or lowinvolvement#p#分页标题#e#
products (Taylor, 1981). High-involvement products are viewed as
more important, more expensive, more ego related, and higher risk than lowinvolvement
products. Advertisements for high-involvement products tend to
use rational appeals, whereas those for low-involvement products seem to use
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emotional appeals (Petty et al., 1981; Traylor, 1981; Weinberger and Spotts, 1989).
Hence, using a standardized advertising strategy for high-involvement products
may not be feasible because more information (than for low-involvement
products) must be provided and it may need to be tailored to specific target
segments across different markets. Only one recent study examined how product
involvement influences international advertising standardization (Mueller, 1991).
The findings do not demonstrate different levels of advertising standardization
for high and low involvement products. Clearly, more empirical research is
needed on this issue before definite conclusions can be drawn.
A third aspect of the product influencing the degree of advertising
standardization is the stage of the product life cycle (PLC) in international
markets. Rau and Preble (1987) argued that standardization would be most
feasible for a product which is at the same stage of its PLC in different foreign
markets. For example, a product that is at the maturity stage of its PLC in one
foreign market, and at the introductory stage of its PLC in another, requires
different advertising strategies for those markets. Clearly, in this case, a
standardized advertising strategy would be totally inappropriate. However,
because empirical research is lacking in this area, the theoretical arguments
have not been substantiated.
The last product aspect that affects advertising standardization is the
product’s appeal in each foreign culture. In general, researchers have pointed
out that when a product is “culture-bound” (i.e. different product attributes
appeal to different cultures), standardization is inappropriate (see, for example,
Dunn, 1976; James and Hill, 1991; Kanso, 1992; Onkvisit and Shaw, 1987). Even
the same product attributes that seem appealing across different foreign
markets cannot be generalized because they are likely to differ in their level of
importance in those markets.
Intrinsic determinants
International advertising objectives
Concerning the objectives of advertising information and memorability, a single
advertising message with only minor modifications, or even advertisements with
proper translations, can be used in all countries to reach consumers. Sufficient
consideration of specific peculiarities is not very important to meet the
objectives of advertising information and memorability. Following the same#p#分页标题#e#
objective across different countries, a simplification in the planning process takes
place and, consequently, a reduction in the planning and development costs of
advertising. In addition, a better co-ordination and control of the international
advertising campaign is possible, while comparisons can easily be made among
the different regional areas regarding the effectiveness of advertising.
In relation to persuasiveness, separate messages should be used to reach
consumers in different markets by fitting the message to each particular country.
To meet the objective of persuasiveness better, cultural, economic, legal, media (e.g.
great differences in the media scene and in the conditions of the creative structure),
and product (e.g. different conditions regarding product usage, differences in
Standardization
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product positioning, different phases in the product life cycle, etc.) dissimilarities
must be taken into consideration as our previous discussion suggests.
However, there may be reasons for the advertiser to develop an international
standardized advertising strategy when persuasiveness is the objective. Some
main reasons can be: similarities in the target groups, similarities in product
positioning, transnational use of good ideas and transfer of know-how,
tendencies to centralization in the management of the international firm,
increased mobility of consumers, internationalization of competition, use of
media overlapping and limited knowledge of the regional markets on the part of
the central advertising agency. Finally, in the context of advertising, we have to
examine the economic function of advertising across different countries. When
this function is similar (i.e. information about products and services, where they
are available, what benefits they offer to consumers and so on), we can
standardize the advertising strategy (Johansson, 1994).
Relationship between multinational advertiser and agency(ies)
The advertising environment characteristics such as types of product and
service, advertising expenditures per capita, government control of advertising,
availability of commercial breaks during programmes, shortage of advertising
personnel and presence of advertising agencies were found to influence the nature
of television advertising messages independently (Zandpour et al., 1994). Hence,
these characteristics are very important in the context of the relationship between
multinational advertiser and advertising agency. This environment determines
the criteria for the selection of an advertising agency and the consequent
collaboration between multinational advertiser and advertising agency.
The availability of sufficient institutions and functions in the host country is
a very crucial factor the advertiser must consider regarding the adaptation of#p#分页标题#e#
an international advertising strategy. In addition, the previous experience of
both advertiser and advertising agency with respect to the knowledge of how to
handle the barriers hindering international advertising standardization is also a
very important factor, since transnational integration means exchanging
experience and worthwhile concepts among different regional areas.
As an example, consider the “soft-sell” phenomenon in Japan. This approach
to advertising relates to the special nature of the advertising agency business in
this country. The typical western advertising agency is independent of the
media. Furthermore, the typical western advertising agency considers it
unethical to have, as clients, firms competing in the same markets. In contrast,
advertising agencies in Japan do not face these limitations. They have a direct
influence on the media. Moreover, they customarily maintain business
relationships with competing advertisers. The consequence of this institutional
set-up is that in considering the long-established relationships with competitive
clients, it can be difficult to proclaim one client’s advantage over another.
Another effect of the institutional set-up in Japan is a stronger position of the
agency vis-à-vis its clients than in the west. Taking also into account that
advertisers seldom have managers with a formal business school education, who
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therefore are professionally less assertive than their western counterparts, it is
expected that the agencies may dictate what the advertising should look like. As
a result, a Japanese advertising agency has a greater freedom as regards creative
strategy than a western agency. But this freedom is difficult to reproduce abroad
where the power of the agency over the media is much weaker (Johansson, 1994).
Creative strategy
The creative advertising strategy is the overall policy/principle that determines
the general nature and character of the advertising messages (Frazer, 1983). Simon
(1971) developed the following set of ten different creative strategies: information,
argument, motivation with psychological appeals, repeated assertion, command,
brand familiarization, symbolic association, imitation, obligation, and habitstating.
In the relevant literature there are only three empirical studies which,
based on Simon’s classification, examined whether the creative advertising
strategy can influence the degree of international advertising standardization.
Reid et al. (1985) showed some differences between US and winning
international Clio television advertisements that prohibited the use of a
standardized advertising message. Similarly, Martenson (1987) found creative
differences between US and Swedish advertisements. Zandpour et al. (1992)#p#分页标题#e#
results of television advertisements from the USA, France and Taiwan indicated
clear differences in creative strategies, making a standardized advertising
message inappropriate. In addition, the slow change from mass marketing to
niche marketing demands customized communication strategies.
In general, though, advertising can be classified in two totally different forms:
rational and emotional advertising (Rossiter and Percy, 1988, p. 172). Rational
advertising includes important information for the consumer (i.e. the description
of features of the product). In contrast, emotional advertising appeals to feelings
and pleasure, which are related to the advertised products. In rational
advertising, information about the product is very important and advertising is
directed mainly towards the mind. The advertising content is mainly based on
the vocabulary of everyday language. This means that people’s perception in
different regional areas differ and, consequently, adaptation of advertising in
that case is necessary. On the other hand, in emotional advertising mood
(atmosphere) is very important. Image and comprehensibility are not very
crucial factors. Yet, elements of advertising strongly related to fashionable and
technologically superior ideas can be standardized because these elements can
have a transnational character (Rinner-Kawai, 1993).
In sum, the development of a basic advertising campaign (i.e. formal
construction and slogan) with country-specific adaptations is very important,
especially when there are great linguistic differences across different host
countries (Schmitt et al., 1994).
Media strategy
In the international context, the media scene within different countries is
characterized by a considerable heterogeneity because the number and type of
Standardization
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517
media differ from one country to another and different media have different
significance, different target groups, and different reach, as well as frequency, in
each country (Albaum et al., 1990, p. 327; Meffert and Althans, 1992, p. 141). This
difference in media patterns is due to cultural, sociological, economic and even
psychological differences among countries. In the developed countries, the great
majority of the population read a daily newspaper. In contrast, in countries
characterized by low educational levels and low consumer income, readership of
the press is limited to a small part of the market in the middle and upper socioeconomic
groups. As for magazines, in Europe there is a great number of
consumer magazines, each having a very limited circulation compared to the
national magazines in the USA. Technical and business magazines do not exist
in many world markets. Often either the lack of periodicals or the small
circulation of many periodicals are the reasons that multinational advertisers#p#分页标题#e#
rely less heavily on these than they would otherwise prefer.
Radio is an important advertising medium for products with a wide market.
Radio is used more in Latin America than in Europe because of European
restrictions on radio advertising. This medium is very important for markets
characterized by a low rate of literacy and low consumer income. Finally,
television is an important advertising medium for a few world markets only.
Television is most effective when it operates with a minimum of restrictions.
Yet, certain countries, in which television is government-owned (e.g. Sweden
and Italy), impose severe restrictions on TV advertising which can limit its
effectiveness. In other countries, television can reach only a relatively small
percentage of the market (Albaum et al., 1990, pp. 329-31).
The above discussion clearly suggests that developing an international
standardized media strategy can be a very difficult, if not an impossible, task.
Finally, we need to consider two additional factors pertaining to media
strategy: international media and the overlapping of certain national media in
other countries (Albaum et al., 1990, pp. 327-33; Meffert and Althans, 1992,
p. 143). By international media it is meant the media that circulate, or are heard or
watched, in two or more nations. The international print media (e.g. Business
Week) and the international broadcast media (e.g. Radio Luxembourg, Radio
Monte Carlo) are considered credible sources of information for world-marketed
products. Concerning television, more specifically, satellite transmission has
created the potential for an expanded use of television as an international
medium (e.g. CNN, Pan-European TV stations). Therefore, the continuous and
increasing presence of international media may prove to be useful in developing a
uniform or at least a harmonious image in a number of relevant foreign markets.
The other important factor within the context of international media selection
is the overlapping of certain national media in other countries – that is, certain
national media can be used for purely technical reasons in other countries (the
use of TV programmes from neighbouring countries). Hence, a multinational
advertiser can use the effect of such free-of-charge contacts to advertise products
in neighbouring countries (e.g. from Germany to Austria and Switzerland, from
France to Belgium, from Belgium to Luxembourg and The Netherlands).
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Other elements of the communication mix
As far as the interaction of advertising with other elements of the communication
mix is concerned, there are certain international firms which try to develop a
standardized communication mix (advertising, sales promotion, packaging) in all
countries where they operate. The reason is that these companies place an#p#分页标题#e#
emphasis on integrated communications to produce a co-ordinated
communications effort (Zinkhan, 1994). These firms aim at international product
and company image based on the standardization of their communication mix or
aim at transferring their profitable national communication mix overseas. The
key objective of the firms aiming at international product and company image is
to have a very strong intellectual presence in the markets of all countries in which
they operate. In this case, a standardized communication mix can increase the
contacts with the brand name and the trademark.
Support activities and barriers
In relation to the barriers preventing and the support activities helping to meet
the advertising objectives, effective advertising standardization has qualities
similar to good advertising decision making in any other context: clear strategic
vision, access to reliable information, flexibility in implementation and
willingness to give up once successful strategies when the market and
competitive conditions change. In the absence of such qualities, advertising
standardization is no longer a competitive tool.
The chances of improving advertising effectiveness depend on similarities
among different national markets. These similarities are to be found mainly in the
basic institutional and cultural conditions. Taking into account these similarities
and the effects of the experience curves leads to economies of scale in the context
of both the development of either a standardized or an adapted international
advertising strategy and the simplification of planning complexity. Barriers arise
from the heterogeneity in consumer needs. This heterogeneity is an important
reason for adapting the advertising strategy and it causes planning complexity
(Ringlstetter and Skrobarczyk, 1994). In this context, the phenomenon of “silent
language” is very important. The term “silent language” refers to communication
signals, which generally take place in the non-verbal sector. These
communication signals are the role (status) of the family, friendship, free time,
etc., and the way these matters are realized. Experience about these phenomena,
not only on the part of the advertiser but also on the part of the advertising
agency, is very important as regards standardizing or adapting the international
advertising strategy (Meffert and Althans, 1992, p. 140).
The international advertising strategy continuum
The consideration of international advertising also involves examination of
international advertising strategies and tactics. These strategies are the result
of an analysis of the “local”, “firm”, and “intrinsic” determinants. The resulted
advertising strategies and tactics are represented on a continuum with different#p#分页标题#e#
degrees of adaptation (see Figure 2), which can document a relationship
between the above-mentioned factors and advertising effectiveness.
Standardization
versus
adaptation
519
Figure 2.
Bases of the
international
advertising strategy
continuum
Low involvement situation regarding
product, consumer, media, message,
buying situation and company decision
making/problem solving characterized
by similarities of cultural,
economic, consumer profile, legal
and media scene conditions, low culturally-
oriented strategic position,
high centralization of decision making,
more industrial products than
consumer products and consumer
durable products, products at the
same stage of PLC, non-culturebound
products, low local and international
competition, well-developed
advertising infrastructure in the host
countries, difficulties in the financial
position of the firm, information and
memorability as advertising objectives,
high experience of the advertiser
and of the advertising agency in
handling the barriers hindering international
advertising standardization,
small power in the hands of the
regional country-managers, high
overlapping of national media,
strong orientation towards a standardized
communication-mix, presence
of clear strategic vision, access
to reliable information, economies of
scale, and absence of differences in
communication signals in the nonverbal
sector.
High involvement situation regarding
product, consumer, media, message,
buying situation and company
decision making/problem solving
characterized by the presence of the
opposite-end mentioned factors –
but in the opposite direction.
®
® ®
¬ ® ¬
¬ ¬
STANDARDIZATION
OF
CREATIVE
STRATEGY
AN
D
TACTICS
ADAPTATION
OF
CREATIVE
STRATEGY
AN
D
TACTICS
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One polar end of the international advertising strategy continuum is the
complete standardization of creative strategy and tactics. It can take place in the
international advertising industry when mainly:
• there is a great similarity in cultural environment across different countries;
• there is a great similarity in the economic conditions across different
countries;
• there is no great uniqueness in the consumer profile across different
countries;
• the strategic orientation of the corporation is not very culturally-oriented;
• the decision-making process of the organization is very centrally controlled;
• it is more about industrial products more than about consumer products#p#分页标题#e#
and consumer durable products;
• the products are at the same stage of PLC across different countries;
• it is about non-culture-bound products than culture-bound products;
• there is a great similarity of legal conditions across different countries;
• the presence of local and international competition is not high in the host
countries;
• a well-developed advertising infrastructure exists in the host countries;
• the organization experiences great difficulties with respect to its
financial position;
• the objectives of advertising are centred on information and memorability
rather than persuasiveness;
• the previous experience of advertiser and of advertising agency on how to
handle the barriers hindering the international advertising standardization
is high;
• little power is in the hands of the regional country-managers;
• there is a great similarity in the media scene across different countries;
• there is a high degree of overlapping regarding the number of national
media across different countries;
• there is a high degree of orientation with respect to the development of a
standardized communication mix across different countries; and
• there is, to a great extent, a presence of support activities (e.g. clear
strategic vision, access to reliable information, economies of scales, etc.)
and an absence of barriers (e.g. great difference in communication
signals in the non-verbal sector, etc.).
The above mean that all these determinants support the use of the same
advertising concept or theme (creative strategy) and the same way in which the
creative strategy is expressed or “executed” in the finished advertisements
Standardization
versus
adaptation
521
(creative tactics) across different countries. A requirement for this strategy state
is that we have exactly the same product across different countries and the
product has an internationally well-known name which differentiates it
strongly from competitors. In addition, consumer involvement in the purchase
decision-making process is very low. This implies that the elements of creative
strategy and tactics are basically emotional, having a strong international/
global character. Supporting advertisements which remind the consumer about
the product are appropriate in this case.
The opposite polar end of the international advertising strategy continuum
is complete adaptation of creative strategy and tactics. Specified conditions of
this state are that:
(1) it is, first, about consumer non-durable products and, second, about
consumer durable products rather than industrial products;
(2) advertising objectives centre on persuasiveness rather than information
and memorability; and#p#分页标题#e#
(3) all the other determinants, which are mentioned in the standardized
state, exist in a high degree but in the opposite direction.
This means that all these determinants make the use of different creative
strategies and tactics across different countries necessary. A requirement of this
strategy state is that we have:
(1) exactly the same product across different countries, but in different
stages of the PLC;
(2) a product relaunch in certain host countries on the basis of changes in
the product;
(3) an introduction of a new product in certain host countries; and
(4) a geographical expansion of the market.
In addition, consumer involvement in the purchase decision-making process is
very high. This implies that we have not only emotional but also rational
elements in the creative strategy. The kinds of advertising appropriate in this
case are expansion and introductory advertising.
Obviously, moving from one polar end of standardization to the other polar
end of adaptation indicates a strategy continuum. Of course, this
conceptualization, in turn, raises the question of the different ways and degrees
international advertising strategies and tactics can be adapted, as one moves
from “complete” standardization to “complete” adaptation. To answer this
question, one needs to consider the specific elements (i.e. creative strategy and
creative tactics) that can be adapted along this continuum. Hence, we can
describe the route one can take along this continuum, from left (i.e. complete
standardization) to right (i.e. complete adaptation), by reviewing the variations
in the adaptation elements of international advertising.
We take consumer involvement in the purchase decision-making process as
the main variable of our approach, because involvement can nowadays be
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considered as the most important factor in this process (Papavassiliou, 1988;
1989). Involvement, in general, has to do with the personal value system of the
buyer. In this regard, the previously discussed factors (i.e. environmental
influences, individual differences, psychological processes and product
influences, as well as media and message influences), which influence the
development of international advertising strategies and tactics, are basically
expressed through this personal value system. Therefore, moving away from the
complete standardization end of the continuum, consumer involvement in the
purchase decision-making process is rather low and consumer behaviour is
strongly emotional. The consumer does not actively search for and process
information because it is too trivial for him/her. Thus, creative strategy and
tactics are emotional and could be introduced as they are in another country,#p#分页标题#e#
although within the same region. Regional considerations are important because
certain emotions (e.g. humour, sadness) may have universal appeal, and thus can
be standardized. Other emotions, though (e.g. love), may be characterized by
strong regional aspects and, hence, need to be adapted so as to avoid taboos.
Moving forward on the continuum, creative strategy continues to be
emotional (with regional aspects) and can be still standardized. Creative tactics,
though, may need to be adapted either to different regions or even to each local
market/country again to avoid taboos in some countries.
As we continue moving on the continuum, the extent of consumer
involvement (i.e. product involvement, personal involvement, media and
message involvement, and buying situation involvement) in the purchase
decision-making process starts increasing. This means that even though
creative strategy and tactics can continue to be emotional, with regional
considerations, limited attention to some product features (e.g. product name)
may need to take place and be adapted to either regional or country aspects.
There is usually a slight improvement in creative strategy and tactics as well as
in the availability and quality of media.
Stepping forward on the continuum, consumer involvement in the purchase
decision-making process is middling. The consumer actively searches and
processes some information, to a limited extent though. Thus, the content of the
advertising message starts becoming important. This means that creative
strategy and tactics also need to consider a moderate number of product
characteristics (i.e. rational appeals) which – like the emotional appeals – may
differ across regions or even countries. There are also a greater number of media
which are also of better quality. Better quality also characterizes creative
strategy and tactics.
Reaching now close to the full adaptation end of the continuum, consumer
involvement in the purchase decision-making process is high. The consumer
actively searches and processes information which is of interest and importance
to him/her. Hence, the content of the advertising message is as important as the
emotional element. This indicates that creative strategy and tactics also need to
use the “chunking” of information which – like the emotional elements – may
differ for the same product across regions or even countries. This also suggests
Standardization
versus
adaptation
523
that there is wide availability of media which are of high quality. Furthermore,
there is wide availability of creative strategy and tactics that are characterized by
the high quality of the cognitive and aesthetic value of the advertising message.
Therefore, the notion of the international advertising strategy continuum#p#分页标题#e#
can be considered as the move from “massive” advertising to “niche”
advertising. In massive advertising, remembering the product name is very
important. For this reason the objective is high exposure of the message to
maintain audience attention and to become well known. In niche advertising,
remembering not only the product name but also product features is very
important. For this reason the objective is high exposure and recall of the
message, not only to maintain audience attention and become well-known but
also to communicate new ideas. This is achieved by means of high quality
media and message techniques aiming at obtaining a functional and emotional
profile of the product suitable for each host country.
In sum, the preceding discussion indicates that among the standardization and
adaptation states of international advertising. there are a number of variations of
the adaptation elements which are appropriate to different situations.
Conclusion
The basic intent of this article was to develop a comprehensive picture of
advertising standardization or the degree of adaptation decisions in international
markets. We developed a conceptual framework by integrating relevant
theoretical and empirical research studies reported in the relevant literature. Our
framework links local and organizational environmental determinants as well as
intrinsic determinants to the international advertising strategies and tactics
continuum (i.e. ways and degrees of advertising adaptation). We identified
variables within each of the areas of influence and we showed how they have a
predictive role in shaping the ways and degrees of advertising adaptation. Then,
we noted that the degree of presence or absence of these variables determines the
resulted advertising strategies and tactics continuum.
The research ideas discussed in this study should answer, from the
managerial point of view, one of the most important questions in the area of
international advertising. That is, which key variables and relationships affect
the development of specific advertising strategies and tactics regarding the
degree of advertising adaptation? We hope our analysis provides clear
guidelines to advertising managers in designing their international advertising
strategies and tactics.
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