INTRODUCTION Marketing mix is the approach that organizations try to influence the decision making of its customers in the market. In this, it comprises of the 4p’s in the market which are; product, pricing, promotion and place or distribution of the product. The product aspect deals with specifications of actual services and goods, and how it is related to the consumer’s wants and needs. The scope of product aspect of marketing generally includes elements like support, warranties, and guarantees. Pricing is the process of establishing the price of a product or services offered to consumers.
It can be whatever is exchanged for the service or product such as attention, energy, money or time (Kimuli 2006). Under pricing is also the aspect of product discounting. Distribution or placement refers to the means by which the product reaches the client. This includes retailing and point-of-sale placement. It also refers to the channel through which a service or product is sold (such as retail or online), the industry or geographic region, the segment (families, young adults, business people), and how the environment affects sales of services and goods.
Promotion includes sales promotion, personal selling, advertising, branding, publicity and various methods of brand, product or company promotion. These four elements (commonly known as the four Ps) are known to be extremely important when marketers are engaged in formulating a marketing plan. With this, it has been noted that ‘product’ is the key element in marketing mix as the other three can not be accomplished minus the ‘product’ that is expected to be sold to the market. Thus the international market has introduced the concept of product standardization so that they can attain the needs of dissimilar consumers using one given product.
Product standardization is the design validation of assortment of harmonized and partly compatible products, produced to attend to a number of customers’ needs in international market. This assists the organizations to minimize the amount of dissimilar components in a product. In order to attain this, organizations tries to get or establish the correct substances to be used in the product, create product qualifications, optimizing procedure management, substances description and evaluation of compatibility.
These are the main elements that qualify a product to be termed as being standardized in any organization. The report is entitled to look at the way in which the product has been viewed as the main element in market mix that can be standardized in market and how an organisation can organise its structure in such a manner that it can be able to standardize the new product to be produced in the market. PRODUCT STANDARDIZATION This is the design validation of assortment of harmonized and partly compatible products, produced to attend to a number of consumers’ needs in the market.
The process normally consists of; reducing the amount of materials used in coming up with the product together with the quality of the product to be used worldwide. In so doing, the organisation comes up with a product that can satisfy the needs of consumers around the international markets. In most occasions, the process involves marketing, manufacturing and applying process in a more unified way within the system. This means that, the organisation carries out its business activities throughout using a pre-determined set of guidelines or processes (Thrassou & Vrontis 2008).
This is because they are able to use the same promotion and advertising policy in all of their market internationally for their product. As result, it reduces the cost of a product which in most cases tend to be dictated by the mode of advertisement applied in other countries. Standardization has been able to be practices on ‘product’ in market due to some of the reasons that the product tend to achieve in the market. It is on the product that the labelling and its packaging can be standardized to facilitate it to be used in the entire market world wide.
Secondly, the product gives the organisation the opportunity to brand their product to look different from the rest of the organisation with patent action protecting them from being copied by other manufacturers in the market (Buzzell 1968). These give product high chances to be standardized than the other marketing mix element in organisations. In the paper, we will look on how product standardization came into existence in the market, some of the features that are associated with international product standardization and how these features relate to the standardization in international market.
ORIGIN OF PRODUCT STANDARDIZATION Product standardization is believed to have been driven by the globalisation of market. In this, many organisations realised that they were engaged in more costs to enable them attend to needs & demands of consumers in international market. In order to solve this, they came up with product standardization where they could homogenize their entire requirement to come up with one specific product that could meet the demands of entire consumers in the market.
Other than the effect of cost in the market, there arise the issue of language and media used during the promotion process of the product in the market. This offered them the opportunity to use the same statement of advertisement to the entire market internationally (Thrassou & Vrontis 2008). This can be evidence in the manufacturing of Coca Cola soft drink in United states which its motion of “enjoy coca cola “ has been used in all the markets including African countries. This is only achieved through maintaining their motion but change the language to suit the consumers in the market.
In order for any organisation to realise the importance of standardization of their product, they need to have attained some of the requirement. In this, the paper will look at the factors that tend to give ‘product ‘an upper hand to be standardized in an organisation and not the other elements of market mix. These variables comprise of; market issues, company issues and the industry issues. These will give the aspects that tend to influence the product to be standardized in an organisation. MARKET ISSUES
Under this category, it is comprised of other aspects that tend to relate to marketing and marketing strategy that affects the product in general. These are; the lawful necessities that the organisation has to attain for them to be legible to sell in the market, the customers’ preferences, the customers buying characters, the competition in the market, the marketing infrastructure, the cultural/communal behaviours and taboos of the people within the targeted market, economic development of the region and condition of the product in time of use.
Basing on these aspects, each of them tends to dictate the way in which the product can be standardized in the market. LAWFUL NECESSITIES Lawful necessities are mostly noticeable in parts of; product plan standards, the costing stage of the product, recruitment, promotion of the product, duties and tariffs and the competitive performances that the organisation is engaged in. Basing on the cultural/communal behaviour of the market, it tends to give the coverage that the standardisation practise of the product has to attain.
It involves the local and the recognised techniques of performing duties involving consumers’ attitudes towards the stranger commodities in the market (Buzzell 1968). For instance, it is easy for United States product to get its way into African market than the rate at which the African product will attain market into the US market. In this, we can say that, the United States organisation have been able to standardise their product to a manner that they are of the same quality and brand to be able to go farther than their local market as compared to the those in Africa country.
For a product to be accepted to be sold in other countries especially in the European countries, the organisation has to adjust on the quality of the product that they produce and the way in which they brand their product to make it acceptable to consumers in Europe market. This is to the fact that, the Europeans have had the attitude that no good product come from African continent, they rather get the raw material and attain the final product than importing the finish product from them. CONSUMER PREFERENCES
Consumer preferences in different countries tend to be idiosyncratic to neighbourhood cultures, the worth constitution, tastes, financial status of the target market along with other factors that one may regard them to affect the driving force of one to purchase a foreign product in the market. These comprise of powerful prototypes of decision outcomes that are attributed to clients of a given market internationally. The tendency of organisations to adjust to products differs with the type of the product in the market together with the power of the consumers to purchase the product.
In this we can say that, as much as the target market may be willing to purchase the product in the market, they should be able to attain the price on which the product is being sold at (Leonidou 1996). For instance, one would rather go for the product from China in the market other than that from Japan. This is not due to the quality of the product but the aspect of the financial status of the consumers in the market. Having cheap labour in their country, Chinese have been able to attain products at a cheap cost compared to that from Japan or United States.
Basing on the purchasing behaviour of consumers in the market, it tends to have great impact on the way in which people will react to the new product and foreign product in the market. Basically, at this stage, people will not base their judgement on the way the product is being advertised to the market, the price at which the product is sold , and the origin of the product but rather they tend to view the product pertaining to its quality and how it can attend to their needs and demands in the markets.
Because of this, it has offered ‘product’ a higher chance to be standardized in international market compared to the other marketing mix elements in the markets. PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT Basing the debate on the physical environment of the market internationally, we find out that, product tends to be easily affected by the physical environment features such as climate, topography and demographic nature of the region compared to the way in which price, distribution and advertisement of the commodity will be affected (Buzzell 1968).
It tends to be easier to standardise the ‘product’ element to all nations that tend to have same environment so long as the final condition of the product before and during use can sustain the environment, other than way in which the pricing of a given commodity will be standardized in all countries. Pricing tends to depend mostly on the economic status of the nations, thus this only works in nations that attempt to have same economic status.
As we know this has been a big problem world wide as the economic status of a country depends on the nation’s operations and thus giving it a narrow chance for two nations to poses same financial status. For example, a product such as the wedding gown and accessories, can be standardized to reach the entire international market but will differ in its pricing system as this will tend to be calculated regarding to the economic status of the nation, so as to motivate and enable the people in the market to afford the product in the market. MARKETING INFRASTRUCTURE
Marketing infrastructure within international markets enables it to standardize their products. This concerns itself with attainability of wholesales and retail outlets in the region, availability of transportation for product to be transported to the expected region together with accessibility of warehousing in the region (Buzzell 1968). These, tend to offer ‘product’ with more opportunity to be standardised in other market internationally compared to the way in which the other three marketing mix will be achieved on the same elements. COMPETITION
Competition is the struggle to attain sustainable competitive advantage in the market from a number of organisations. This calls for different product in the market, price, mode of promotion and distribution. It is of this reason that some of the organisations such as Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Gillette, Schweppes and BIC have attained their international brand. As much as the companies produce goods that are targeted at an international audience by using an effective marketing mix, there is need for the companies to understand differences that result from regional changes.
These companies have managed to penetrate markets despite the challenges that are commonly seen in international markets. It is this underlying fact that forms the basis of international marketing. In these, organizations must accept differences in customs, values, currencies and cultures. Just like marketing environment is assessed at home, the potential of markets overseas must be carefully scrutinized. The market size, type and degree of competition, product differences, promotional differences, price and barriers of trade need to be analyzed on top of the cost-effectiveness of using various modes/types of transport.
Further the organization needs to asses the investment scale considering both long-term and short-term targets for adequate returns on the way in which they standardized their product to other nations. INDUSTRY ISSUES According to Jain (1989) he suggests that, it is only for the products that are industrial and of high technology that attain the ability to be standardized in international markets compared to the local consumer products.
This is to the idea that, the products that are subjected to change in market at any time are not likely to be standardized as it will force the company to incur more cost to enable it to attain their goals in the market (Samiee, Saeed, & Kendal 1992). For example, it has been much easier for the Toyota Company in Japan to standardize their product in all market worldwide compared to the way in which the other cars produced in Japan have.
This is to the fact that, they are not yet established and thus they tend to face more changes in their make up which makes it hard for the organisation to standardize them worldwide. INFLUENCE OF ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE IN PRODUCT STANDARDIZATION WITHIN PRODUCT PROCESS Organisational structure of a company tends to dictate whether the product being produced in the organisation will be standardized in the market or be for local consumption.
According to Uscategui (1998) it is clear that for any manufactured product or brand in an organisation to be of global basis, the international firm will reasonably hold as an intend the attainment of collaboration & fulfilment on the section of individual participants. In this, there should exist the relationship between the marketing function at headquarter of international companies and marketing function at their individual participants together with the survival of interdependencies among participants.
Thus, we can say that, effective product standardization is attained by means of tight relationship that exists among the participants in the organisation (Jain 1989). At the same time, this tends to educate us on the way in which company issues have an influence on product standardization in the market. Some of the issues related to international product standardization comprise of centralisation of decision making power, sub-unit vertical reliance, sub-unit collaboration, sub-unit horizontal reliance, sub-unit agreement and sub-unit faith within the system.
Forms of firms in such a manner that one company section is able to build up abilities that profits the whole organisation, permit for the improvement of scale financial status and defence of the centre competencies for centralized capital and elasticity in their dealings (Uscategui 1998). Sub-unit parallel interdependence comprises high intensities of affiliate confidence on data or capitals from another affiliate.
In this, (Jain 1989) argues out that, the corporate managers in any organisation tend to manipulate some elements to generate conducive atmosphere that permits high percentage for standardization of product in the organisation to take place. Sub-unit vertical reliance comprises of high number of associates of whom one gets information or capital from the mother company or headquarter. To the respect of the headquarters’’ position within the organisational structure, the marketing function at the office has to provoke for some amount of faith or trust from the organisation (McCarthy 1960).
The sub-unit trust comprises powerful opinions by the associates that the headquarters have maintained its assurances and is sincerity with them. Moving down the structure, there are the internationals who give direction to local managers marketing programs who are entitled to ensure that any new product to be produced in the organisation goes globally into the market before the other manufacturer realises it for competition. They are also to make sure that each manager completely and devotedly develops a precious market thought (Quelch & Hoff, 1986).
The superior the strategic consensus among the mother organisation manager on the essential standardization elements the more effective the process will be on the new product being manufactured at the organisation. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION The paper has looked on the key issues that make ‘product’ to be more likely to be standardized than most of the other elements of marketing mix and how the organisation structure can be organised in any organisation to influence product standardization of a new product that the organisation is producing to the market.
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