One thing I’ve noticed about marketers (and probably many other people too) is that they pursue efficiency … often to the point of being ineffective. A place where this often shows up is trying to make messaging or product global. While many larger companies have field marketing people in various countries that work to localize the message, often the product is just not the best solution for their market. The better solution is to change the product or not focus on that market.
A recent Advertising Age article made this point using Shiseido cosmetics as an example. The article sub-head makes the key point: Chinese Women View and Use Beauty Products Differently. (Gee, I am neither Chinese nor a woman and that sub-head seems obvious to even me.) The opening paragraph/sentence sums up the problem: “The definition of beauty has become homogenized by the globalization of media, but there are cultural and societal differences that affect the way women in different countries view and use beauty products, especially in China.” (I like writers who write even longer sentences than I do.)
Shiseido has capitalized on understanding the unique needs of this HUGE market and is the leading provider of products. Some of that comes from their Japanese origins and some comes from a purposeful focus. All that being said, if you are going to invest in a market make sure you are effective first, then worry about being efficient.