The key decisions in international marketing communication are:
Identifying the Target Audience:
Target audience means people for whom promotional message is meant and includes both present and potential customers. Even for the same product the target audience may be different in different countries. For example, some consumer durables which are used even by the low income groups in the advanced countries may be used only by high income groups in the developing countries. In several cases the need satisfaction by the product varies between markets. For example, bicycles are basic means of transportation in countries like India and the important category of consumers are small farmers, blue-collar workers and students.
In some of the advanced countries, bicycles are used for sporting and exercising and, hence, the target audience is different. Again the decision-making roles of different categories of people are not the same in all the markets. All these indicate that the target audience may not be the same in all the markets.
Determining Communication Objectives:
The communication objectives also may be different in some cases. For example, when the product is in the introduction stage in a market the emphasis of communication could be on consumer education and creation of primary demand. In a market where the product is at other stages of the life cycle, the communication objectives would be different. If there is a serious new competition in one market, fighting competition could be a major objective of advertising in that market at that time.
Determining the Message:
Kotler point out that formulating the message will require solving four problems: What to say (message content), how to say it logically (message structure), how to say it symbolically (message format), and who should say it (message source).
Quite obviously the decisions regarding the message content, message structure, message format and message source are influenced by certain environmental factors like cultural factors and legal factors. The differences in the environmental factors among the countries may, therefore, call for different messages so as to be appropriate for each market. When communication is modified to meet local conditions or preference, it is known as communication adaptation. Some companies prefer standardized communication, i.e., global, communication on which means same communication irrespective of the market segment.
The size of the total promotional expenditure and the apportioning of this amount to the different elements of the promotion mix are very important but difficult decisions.
Communication Mix Decision:
Difference in the marketing environment may necessitate variations in the communication mix because channel or medium that is very effective in one market may not be so effective in another market. Some channels which are effective in certain markets may not be available or underdeveloped in some other markets. More about the communications mix is given in the next section.