The Plimsoll line is a reference mark located on a ship’s hull that indicates the maximum depth to which the vessel may be safely immersed when loaded with cargo. This depth varies with a ship’s dimensions, type of cargo, time of year, and the water densities encountered in port and at sea and hence a ship’s captain can determine the appropriate Plimsoll line for the voyage.
In the same way, when we take a product or service to market, we need to package it in ways that cater for different market types. The Mitsubishi Pajero sold well in western markets but didn’t take off in Latin American countries due to the fact that ‘Pajero’ was their word for human solid waste.
With the ability of internet marketing to access all corners of the globe, this sensitivity becomes even more important. Just as the Plimsoll line enables a ship to sail the different oceans of the world, not only will the markets be penetrated but new markets may emerge if the ‘specific gravity’ of the offering is matched for local conditions.
This will require research but the payoff will be well worth the effort. As the big fast food chains open up in Asia, their menus reflect local taste and custom without altering the overall package or branding.
Google Analytics is but one tool of many available to ascertain the hot requirements of any market segment. Advertising can be modified to appeal to any number of customer cohorts in any language or region.
Although the level playing field has increased competition, the tools at our disposal have massively increased our ability to compete. Even a fraction of one percent of a market can be huge globally if the local consumers are satisfied.
A niche market product can become a household name if the appeal is tailored to the desires of the culture being targeted. On a recent trip to Malaysia I saw high definition electronic billboards on every telegraph pole on the main roads in town. Mobile device advertising achieves a similar outcome and is fast becoming the promoter’s choice.
New markets are created by foresight as demonstrated by the shoe manufacturer in America at the turn of last century who sent two of their salesman to China to test the markets. One of the salesmen reported ‘don’t send shoes to China, nobody wears them’, while the other salesman told the company to ‘send a shipment, nobody wears shoes…yet!’