Considering Customers in the International Marketing Environment

Developing a thorough understanding of the customers within a market is crucial to being able to successfully and profitably launch a product. Often a company will start their reach domestically and plan only for their local customers. Social, economic, cultural and religious factors could play a very different role abroad. Although, when launching domestically it isn’t priority to research international customers it is important to remember you cannot use the same marketing approaches when expanding internationally.

A widely discussed and interesting international expansion is that of McDonald’s in India. McDonald’s launched their first restaurants in 1996 as a joint venture. They were listed as one of the more expensive fast-food chains and needed to overcome that barrier, but as in the rest of Asia, tastes and preferences in diet vary greatly in India. The localization change of McDonald’s menu items was less than 5% in most countries, but in Asia it was 33%, and in India it was 75%.

In Thailand, basil was added to the burgers, Japanese liked Teriyaki burgers and the Indonesians liked rice burgers. The Indian adaptation challenge was massive due to the religious differences that affected eating habits and ingredients used. India had a significant vegetarian population, Indians like their food hot, used spices liberally, vegetable oil was used as a frying medium, and due to religious reasons, there was poor demand for beef and pork. Hence, a special menu had to be designed to suit Indian tastes with spices and ingredients preferred across the country.

The Maharaja Mac with chicken replaced the beefy Big Mac, while the McAloo burger and Vegetarian Salad Sandwich were specially created for India. Special Indian sauces like McMasala and McImli were created to adapt to Indian tastes. Garlic free and eggless sauces were formulated to cater to the vegetarians. From the original McDonald’s menu, only Chicken Nuggets, Fillet-O- Fish, fries, sodas and shakes were introduced in the initial phase.

When it came to marketing, there is a high emphasis on family and family values that the McDonald’s team took that into consideration when creating a lot of the advertisements. Recently, they produced the following commercial to not only promote the food but that McDonald’s brings the family together.

McDonald’s has seen steady growth in their revenue, and will likely continue to see that growth as they continue to focus on the customer, their needs and their values. Please review the annual revenue of McDonald’s in India from FY 2013 to FY 2017 (in billion Indian Rupees).

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