Why Have The Best Chocolate In the World If You Don’t Promote It?

When we think of Chocolate in the United States, consumers typically think of the go to brands; Hersey’s, Nestle, etc., and when consumers think of better quality chocolate, they think of Europe, notably from Switzerland; Toblerone, Lindt, and the list can go on and on. Chocolate consumers do not typically think of small country in South America as being known for having the world’s best chocolate. Ecuador, a country nestled in the Andes Mountains, between Colombia and Peru, and better known for the Galapagos and for being a popular expat retirement destination, has arguably the best chocolate in the world. However, there hasn’t been much significant effort in really promoting Ecuadorian chocolate as a whole. Instead, different brands have focused on winning awards and maintaining an “artisanal” and “luxury” brand image.

  Ecuador was once the world’s largest exporter of cocoa until the beginning of the 20th Century. Plant disease and the rise of new cultivations in British and French colonies across Africa and Asia saw Ecuador lose its top spot in the early 1900s. Resulting in the loss of appeal of Cocoa to farmers for more lucrative crops such as coffee and bananas. However, Chocolate has seen resurgence in popularity in Ecuador, leading to luxurious and expensive variants, and to tourists taking chocolate tasting tours. Some tourists are even willing to spend large amounts of money to taste samples of chocolate from rare cocao beans. Ecuadorian Chocolate beans have developed a varied classification based on an environment and “terroir.” Only about 5% of the cacao beans grown in the world are gourmet or “fine” cacao beans, and roughly 60% of these fine cacao beans are grown in Ecuador. These beans give the chocolate that they produce a produce floral and fruity. Furthermore, the flavor and size of the beans varies depending on the environment and regions in which the beans are grown.

Ecuador chocolate brands have become renowned around the world over for its high quality, leading to numerous awards over the years. However, the farmers of the chocolate have rarely tasted the benefits of this success. In fact the market share of such high-quality chocolate is minimal compared to the massed produced brands from the larger global conglomerates. Even in Ecuador, most of the chocolate sold in markets are mass-produced chocolate made by the global brands such as Nestle. A contributing issue is that the marketing efforts of the producer of these high-quality brands have been towards tourists and to promoting the chocolate produced as “luxury” chocolate. Despite the government spending a significant amount on a marketing campaign for the country’s tourism and some of its other commodities, Ecuadorian chocolate is still unknown to most consumers who aren’t chocolate connoisseurs or who shop at “specialty” markets.

Needless to say, better marketing communication can make Ecuador chocolate more than the “best chocolate you’ve never known about” or the “next big thing” in the Chocolate world. The “luxury” and “artisanal” image that the notable high-quality chocolate brands, such as Pacari and Republica Del Cacao, are promoting might be helping their bottom line, but is limiting the growth of the Chocolate industry in Ecuador. Greater effort must be made to get the world to know more about the chocolate coming from Ecuador in order to gain better traction in the global market and to help local farmers profit more from their cacao.

Marketing Based on a Country’s Economic Development

When communicating a product or service to a new country, the country’s level of development and economic robustness can have a significant effect on how to promote a brand. Whether a country is highly developed, developing, or underdeveloped will affect how marketers develop promotional and advertising methods, as well as determine what number of methods and strategies that they may choose for effective brand communication.

To begin with, it is important to know the level of economic growth and consumer demand within the country you wish to operate in. Furthermore, the level of economic development presents challenges, as the marketer must its marketing efforts based country’s citizens’ level of understanding. An underdeveloped economy, infrastructure, and under-educated populace might be more of a hindrance than a benefit to your marketing efforts. The same could be said for a highly educated populace and highly developed economy. Marketers must have the ability to examine carefully the level of economic development to understand what needs must be met when communicating their brand, product, or service. Furthermore, when conducting a marketing campaign, you are obliged to study the growth potential of the economy in order to prepare for shifts and changes that can affect your marketing communication. By being able to properly forecast potential growth or hindrance of the local economy, you can properly forecast the level and effectiveness of your own marketing efforts.

The ability and use of the resources of the country will also impact how you decide to communicate within a country. Is the country’s economy advanced enough where there is a robust network of communication capabilities (television, print, internet) with the appropriate logistics mechanisms and value chains for your usage? Are there companies that you can partner with, contract, or outright absorb for your own company? Can you use local salespeople and marketers, or will you have to bring in your own people to get the job done? These are all questions that must be asked, and knowing what resources are or are not available to you can go along way for a determining your costs, measuring expectations, and having a successful marketing campaign. Having the appropriate knowledge of resources and using those resources appropriately can ensure that you aren’t hampered by local barriers within the country that you wish to market in. To communicate a successful marketing campaign, you cannot make the mistake of assuming that the resources in the country of which you are going into are similar to the resources in the country of which you are used to operating in.

The Effect of Culture on International Marketing Communication

The world is becoming more and more homogeneous when it comes to the consumption of brands and products because of globalization and increased connectivity. However, things are not so simple for international marketers. When communicating a brand or a product, marketers must be aware of the impact of culture within the market. Culture can be difficult defined, but a pretty succinct definition by Kotabe and Helsen defines culture as “a learned, shared, compelling, interrelated set of symbols whose meanings provide a set of orientations for members of society.” Culture can vary greatly, not just between global regions and countries, but within countries as well. Being cognizant of cultural similarities and dissimilarities is essential to successful marketing communication. A marketer’s success will be dependent on understanding the cultural preferences, ideologies, and behaviors of the consumers you wish to reach.

Culture can assist in better understand the individual consumer in the target market of which you wish to enter. What might have worked for you in one market, might not work for you due cultural barriers that you might have to overcome or adapt to. Cultural barriers can range from the religious, ideological beliefs, to individual preferences v. the collective group, to how the culture consumes products. A company can make a number of mistakes due to cultural misinterpretation, so for them to be successful they must be able to understand the cultural barriers that they must overcome.

In order for a company to better understand and confront the cultural barriers, they must be able to identify the varying cultural dimensions of a market. Unfortunately, understanding these dimensions is not easy and a significant level of analysis and cultural exposure or interaction is needed. One example would by catering your entry to the market based on whether the culture is a high-context culture, such as those China, Korea, and Japan, or whether it is a low-context, such as those of the USA, Scandinavia, and Germany. Again, it is important to note that there may even be a low-context v. high-context divide between different regions and cities within these various countries. This divide, as well as other factors can even determine how complex or sophisticated you wish to be when communicating your offering to their market.

When it comes to communicating to a market, marketers must consider as many cultural dimensions as possible in order for their brand or product to effectively gain traction and maintain a level of stature within in the market. Furthermore, analyzing culture can help marketers prevent “culture jamming” from negatively impacting the message and communication of their brand within the market.

Samsung’s ability to communicate their brand in the wake of failure and negative publicity

Samsung is currently in a situation where it has to navigate its brand through continuous negative publicity. Just recently, the company’s involvement in a bribery case that resulted in the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye has led to the arrest of Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics. This news, on top of exploding phones and malfunctioning washing machines adds another blight to South Korea’s biggest brand. However, despite Samsung being overwhelmed with scandal after scandal, it continues to recover. Even now, two Samsung executives have taken responsibility for the latest scandal and have offered to resign from their positions. Thus giving Samsung a little reprieve from their latest issue to their brand. Furthermore, Samsung share in the Asian market continues to grow. How is it that Samsung continues to withstand such failures and negative publicity?

To begin with, Samsung is quick to admit fault and beg forgiveness. For whatever reason, Confucius ideals, nationalism, pride, Samsung does not try to hide its failures. They try to remedy the problem immediately, such as attempting to replace phones once they discovered their phones were exploding. Once the backup phones started exploding, Samsung made an immediately recall and offered full refunds. It is important to note that for a lot of companies, this would a deathblow to the brand. However, Samsung’s product range is extremely diverse, from producing military equipment to owning sports clubs. Their integration across all spectrums allows them to continue prospering despite failure in one chain of their brands.

It is also important that Samsung is one the historic “chaebols” in South Korea. A chaebol is a large business conglomerate, usually family owned, and these business have historic ties to the South Korean government going back to South Korean president Park Chung-hee. In essence, chaebols such as Samsung, of which it is the most prominent, area representation of South Korean success and are often a source of nationalistic pride. They are not supposed to fail. They are the embodiment of South Korean industrialization and played a key role in developing new industries, markets, and export production that turned South Korea into an economic powerhouse. In fact, during the Asian Financial Crisis, chaebols were able to roll over loan after loan, as they were deemed “too big to fail.” Even despite recent regulation, chaebols still act in an almost monopolistic manner.

Needles to say, not all companies can have such government support, but the growth of Samsung and its diverse integration is a blueprint for how a business should expand and prepare for eventual failures. Despite their phone failures, they are still one of the biggest brands in the world, and they refuse to be held back. They have continued their R&D and are already preparing to launch a new phone that has already begun generating considerable buzz  in the smartphone arena. In the long run, it seems that Samsung will come out no worse for wear… just as they always have.

Considerations for International Marketing Communications

On the international level, marketing communications must be handled with extreme care. Context is key, and context between cultures with opposing sentiments it is paramount. An organization must understand that its actions do not exist in a vacuum, and its approach must be tempered with an understanding of the foreign country’s macro environment. Social, cultural, political, environmental, economic, and ethical considerations should lay the groundwork for any communication strategy.

The choice of media should take into account a number of factors stemming from the macro environment of the country in question. For one, what media channels currently exist, in what frequency, and what types could be created? For example, local legislation may forbid the use of particular services, such as certain social media platforms in China. Regarding current channels, What, if any, type of competition exists? Additionally, What local resources can be co-opted for the organization’s purposes?

Out of the macro-environmental influencers listed previously, grasping the local culture can be the most elusive. Carl Jung & Kenneth Burke both stipulate that human beings convey meaning through symbol systems. The issue is, symbols do not hold a universal definition. They are imbued with meaning by our hand. Language, itself, is the best example of this. The shear number of dialects that exist – each with its own system for the construction and transmittance of meaning – is daunting. In order to communicate effectively, nothing must be lost in translation.

When it comes to international marketing, choice of media is key, especially with the diffusion of information through various channels of distribution. We will tackle how each method of digital, social, and traditional media has been used successfully and unsuccessfully through our analysis of various international marketing campaigns. We will also compare and contrast how companies run their campaigns for a single product based on whether the campaigns have to vary by nation or regional targeting. While making their campaign decisions, companies must also factor in the 4 Ps of Marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement, when communicating their product or services in a given country, across different cultures, behaviors, and beliefs, and we hope to analyze the degree of application each of these factors in communicating an international marketing campaign in order to create enough noise that provides success and positive feedback. We understand that implementation of a successful marketing campaign may be vastly different, depending on the country. Therefore, we hope to compare and contrast various campaigns and their use of communication strategies and media, with the intention of presenting the readers of this blog with information that they can extrapolate for use in a successful international marketing campaign.

Joseph Naidoo and Andres Vaca are MBA students at Chapman University. If you have any issue as to the validity of the information that is presented in their blog, your complaints can be sent to seanspicer@whitehouse.gov