Successful entering Chinese market

Marketing strategies of successful entering Chinese market

1 Corporate Strategy

Any firms are embedded in a specific business environment, and they must adapt themselves to the business environment in order to achieve their organization goal, including get competitive advantages, attain inputs and reasonable profits. Michael Porter (1996) defined strategy as an plan about achieving competitive advantage through being different- delivering a unique value added to the customer, having a clear and actable view of how to position yourself uniquely in your industry. Strategy designed the goal, direction and scope of an organization in the long-term. Johnson and Scholes define strategy as follows: "Strategy is the direction and scope of an organization over the long-term: which achieves advantage for the organization through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfill stakeholder expectations". Corporate strategy, therefore, can be defined as an overall and long-term response to the external business environment to achieve the business objectives of the organizations.

There are three most frequently used strategies (Michael Porter, 1996) to building competitive advantage, include: (1) Striving to be the industry's low-cost provider. (2)Outcompeting rivals based on such differentiating features. (3)Focusing on a narrow market niche.

The functions of strategy include: (1) Firm commitments: target /positioning/intention/ mission. (2)Maintain choice: scientific decision\ allocation of resources. (3) Raise efficiency: basis for decision-making\action program\ methods for control.

The nature of corporate strategy is: (1) In the relatively static conditions, strategy is a rational decision-making because it has portfolio of concepts, ensure of the process and scientific choice. (2) In the relatively dynamic conditions, strategy is influenced by many unrational factors, include: individual cognitive models, collective decision-making, individual and collective values, and company politics (the individual or collective interests).

Strategies can classified to three levels: corporate-level strategy, business strategy and functional-level strategy. corporate strategy refers to the overall corporate level strategy, business strategy refers to the overall strategy at the operational level, functional strategies refers to the functional management level strategy.

The process of strategic management is, (1) to determine tasks, (2) to identify external business opportunities and threats, identify internal strengths and weaknesses, (3) establishing long-term goals, develop alternative strategies, and (4) select a specific strategy them implement it.

2 Marketing strategy

Marketing strategy is a process that the firms, based on its limited resources, take actions to increase its competitive advantages, and then get more market share and profits. A marketing strategy combines indentifying the marketing goals; making up marketing policies; implementing the policies by product development, promotion, distribution, pricing and other measures; and stating how is the marketing outcomes evaluated. Marketing strategy is a total integration of segmentation, targeting, differentiation, designing positioning strategies, communication, and delivering products or services the a target market.

2.1 Strategy formulation

There are five steps to strategic planning. First, prepare the planning team. Second, articulate guiding principles, once the team is organized, it should articulate guiding principles such as vision, mission and values and connect those to the company goals. Third, assess current situation, include the business environment and the resources of the organization. Fourth, develop a strategic framework, figure out the key business and communication issues. Fifth, completing the plan, take the guiding principles, situation assessment and strategic framework and prepare the written plan (Patricia Bayerlein, 2005).

Ansoff (1979) stated that there are five principles of strategy formulation include: adapt to environment; whole process of management, overall optimum; full participation; feedback and correction. (1) Adapt to environment principle refers to that the strategic should match the external and internal environment. (2) The whole process of management principle refers to that strategic management should be dynamic and constant. (3) The Overall optimum principle refers to that when companies encountered contradictions in strategic implementation process, the only goal should be maximizing the overall interests. (4)Full participation principle refers to that the strategic planning and implement should be an activity that all the personnel anticipate. (5) Feedback and correction principle refers to that strategy implementation is not the final link of strategic management, managers should evaluate the results of strategy implementation and feedback, and then make adjustments to the strategic plan to adapt to the new business environment.

The process of strategy formulation include: understanding the behavior of customers, segmenting the market, selecting target segments, designing the offer to meet the need of the target market, differentiating the offer, and positioning it in the customers mind (Adel, 2006).

Jerry McCarthy (1960) argued that there are 4 marketing strategies that marketer should pay attention to: (1) Product strategy: it refers to that with the method of packaging, design, color, style, trademarks, etc, the marketer give peculiar characteristics to the product, so that consumers can leave a deep impression on their product. From the marketing point of view, the product is something that can be provided to the market for use and consumption, and to meet the needs of consumers, including products, services, personnel, organization, ideas, or their combination. When products or services offered match the needs of the target customer, it will bring satisfaction results (Jones H. and Farquhar J., 2003). (2) Price strategy, it refers to how the product pricing. Customers are unwilling to pay a price that they perceive unfair because it will bring impact on their finance (Levesque and McDougall, 1997; Matzler and Renzl, 2006). Prices refer to the price that customers pay for products, including discounts, payment deadlines. Pricing related to corporate profits, the cost of compensation, and whether it is conducive to product sales, promotion and other issues. The main factors affecting pricing include: demand, costs, and competition. The highest price depends on market demand, the lowest price depends on the cost of the product . Among the highest price and lowest price, the enterprise can set the prices of this product depending on how high the price of competitors in the same kinds of products. (3) Place Strategy, it refers to the product distribution channels that the marketers use to deliver their product to the customer's hands. It has many forms, such as direct sales, indirect channels (distribution, marketing, agency, etc.), businesses can choose different channels according to different situations. (4) Promotion strategy, it refers to the means that enterprises adopt to achieve the purpose of increasing sales, include discount, return of cash, lottery, free to experience and so on. Promotion is an important component of a marketing strategy because people may look for a trustworthy provider before the purchase. Promotion is the measure that a company or institution take to inform the target market of their products, services, images and ideas, to persuade and remind them of the company's products, and to get their trust, support and attention. Advertising, promotion, personal selling, sales promotion is the four elements of a promotional mix.

2.2 Implementation of strategy

Marketing strategies can bring superior returns to the firms only when they are implemented successfully (Bonoma, 1984). However, the fact is, the formulation of strategies has received extensive concern (Anderson, 1982; Day and Wensley, 1983; Wind and Roberson, 1983) while the implement and actualization of strategies get little attention (Charles and Michael, 1999). The definition of strategy implementation varies in the view of different scholars. Some defined strategy implement as a relatively mechanistic enactment of a marketing plan (Wind and Roberson, 1983), and it is the “how to do it” aspects of marketing (Cespedes, 1991), while others proposed interpersonal and behavioral elements associated with the process (Frankwick et al, 1994; Workman, 1993). Day and Wensley (1983) stated that the application of resources to strategy as tantamount to implementation, and Kotler (1997) extended marketing implementation to a process turning marketing plans into action. Based on the former researches, Charles and Michael (1999) defined marketing strategy implementations as “the communication, interpretation, adoption, and enactment of marketing strategy or strategic market initiative”. Adel (2006) stated that marketing strategy implementation is the processes to deploy the marketing mix to create, communicate, and deliver the value to the customers.

Bonoma (1984) and Crittenden (1988) are the first researchers who focus studies on the issue of marketing implement. They stated that the implementations of marketing strategies are influenced by two sets of variables: (1) Structural variables, which refer to the functions, control systems and policy directives of firms. (2) Behavioral factors, which refer to the professional knowledge and skill of marketing managers in negotiation, resource allocation, and develop informal organizational structures effectively (Bonoma, 1984; Crittenden, 1988; Piercy and Morgan, 1994).

Walker and Ruekert (1987) developed a framework which linked strategy implementation to internal structures and process, and then they found that there are three factors that influence that outcome of strategy implementation: (1) the degree to which the marketing managers have autonomy, (2) the degree to which one department share functional programs and facilities with other department in the pursuit of synergies, (3) the measures that the corporate level managers take to evaluate and reward business units' managers. Frankwick et al (1994) found that the implementation efforts of marketing managers would be affected by both formal firm structure and networks of informal communications.

3 Global strategies

3.1 Competitive advantages

As stated in the competition theories, the primary objectives of the firms, in general, is to get more profits through competitive advantages (Dickson, 1992; Barney, 1991; Hunt and Morgan, 1996). Competitive advantages can be defined as the strengths of firms in a specific arena or a particular context, which is critical for the success of firms in market competition (Barney, 1997; Grant, 1998; Roberts, 1999). And the most important objective of marketing strategy is to create sustainable competitive advantage (Luis, 2008).

Competitive advantages come from many sources such as the concept of the value chain (Porter, 1980), barriers to entry the industry and the specific resources of the firms (Wernerfelt, 1984; Hunt and Morgan, 1996). The specific resources of the firms varies from each other, including superior product range or quality, lower prices, more adequate assets, more advanced technology and more professional skills, superior infrastructure, superior entrepreneurship and better management.

While exporting is becoming more and more popular due to the globalization, researchers began to focus their studies on this issue (Zou and Cavusgil, 2002; Katsikeas et al., 2006). When the companies expand their markets to other countries and regions, operate their business globally, the question arise that a whether the companies still have the same sustainable competitive advantage with their existing marketing strategy? How can they sustain competitive advantage in the new markets with their existing marketing strategies, or should they change the marketing strategies to adapt themselves to the new environment? The most important competitive globalization driver may be the transferability of competitive advantage (Lovelock and Yip, 1996). Transferability of competitive advantage is the degree to which competitive advantage in one market can be transfer to other new markets that the firm is poised to leap into. For example, will the firm provide product of which the price is much lower than its competitors will still be the price leader in the new market? Will the product with superior quality and in advanced technology will still be the leader in the exporting country that is technologically advanced, or will the high grade products have market in the exporting country with low income? There are many similar questions, all of which will have impact on the transferability of competitive advantage and then affect the marketing strategy of the firms.

Since there are many resources of competitive advantages, such as physical assets, advanced knowledge based skills and technologies, a other question valuable to be discussed is that under which conditions can these competitive advantages transfer from the domestic market to the exporting market? Researchers stated that there are three concepts we should pay attention to: core competence (Prahalad and Hamel, 1990), market power, and competitive similarity (Jayachandran et al., 1999). The core competence refers to that a firm can lead its customers to perceive valuable benefits from the products or services it provide, create entry barrier for potential competitors, and can be leveraged in a large number of markets (Prahalad and Hamel, 1990). Firms that have core competences can be the standard of the industry in the market, and they can take a better position in the industry. Market power refers to the ability that to which degree can a firm influent the market price, firms with market power are always monopolistic enterprise or giant enterprises, or the top ones in their industry. Jayachandran et al. (1999) proposed in the multimarket competition theory that competition intensity is another concept that has big impact on the transferability of competitive advantages. They stated that when the competitors are similar, they may be more declined to tacit collusion and become corporate partners with each other, and the competition intensity will be lowered. Under this situation, the competitive advantages will be facilitated and it may result in standardization. Hodgkinson (1997) used the theory of competitive structure to investigate on this issue, and he got the same conclusion. He found that competitive firms may develop a shared understanding over time which results in stable competitive structures, and then the competitors will be similar.

So which strategy should firms choose when they expand their market oversea? What should they take in account when choose the strategy? There are two strategies: standardization strategy and adaptation strategy.

3.2 Standardization strategy

The definition of standardization strategy varies and there is no common interpretation of what standardization strategy is (Ryans et al., 2003). Some scholars defined standardization strategy as a common marketing program (Jain, 1989), while others viewed it as a common pattern of resource allocation among marketing mix variables (Syzmanski, 1993). After review the various definition of standardization strategy, Nanda (2007) gave the newest definition that standardization is “a common marketing program since the pattern of resource allocation represents only one, albeit an important one, aspect of a marketing program”.

There are many variables that will have impact on the advantage competitive of firm in the new global market, such as market position and market competitiveness. It is noteworthy that the importance of competition is no long emphasized in standardization strategy. The few factors of competition that still have influence on standardization strategy include competitive position in terms of market share and number of competitors (Jain, 1989), and market competitiveness (Cavusgil et al., 1993). And there are other variables that may have effect on the transferability of competitive advantage such as organizational factors (Jain, 1989) and centralization of authority, consensus among parent-subsidiary managers, and the companies' international experience.(Cavusgil et al, 1993). If the parent-subsidiary managers are unable to reach a consensus of the marketing strategies in the new market, or the authority of company is poorly concentrated, or the firms lack of international experience will adversely, the firms will have difficulty in transferring competitive advantage to the new markets and adversely impact the ability to standardize marketing strategy.

Standardization strategy can bring advantages such as easier administration and low cost, and it can provide standardized product at a low price while increasing quality and reliability, due to economies of scale (Levitt, 1983). Product and price standardization can also improve export performance, particularly if price at home is lower than the price in the exporting country or the exporting firm can take advantage of the exchange rate between different currencies (Lages and Montgomery, 2005).

The scholar in favor of globalization strategy argued that, driven by technology, the globalization is homogenizing the markets worldwide, and marketers can take advantage of this trend by developing standardized marketing strategy (Levitt, 1983). Ohmae (1985), who did research on the market of the USA, Japan, and Europe, found that these three markets were fairly homogeneous, and it is sensible for marketers to develop standardization strategy on these market for that they are taking a large market share in the word.

However, there are scholars inclined to take the opposite point of view, Boddewyn argued that there are few evidence for the homogenization of the world - every county has it own characters in policy, society, national custom, beliefs and so on. Although there existed countries which are apparently culturally similar such as the European Union, where apparently customer needs were similar, they still have some differences in the criteria that consumers used to make decisions (Fournis, 1962). Likewise, Wind and Douglas (1986), sharing the view with Foumis, argued that there are too many differences and constraints in different market, and they questioned the feasibility and benefits of the standardized strategy because in some industries, the costs of production are not a significant part of the total cost of the company, so they can not take the advantage of scale economies.

3.3 Adaption strategy

In spite that some researchers are in favor of standardization strategy and thought that the globalization is homogenizing the markets worldwide, other scholars (Fournis, 1962; Boddewyn et al., 1986; Craig et al., 1992; Shoham, 1995) stated that global markets becoming more different in spite of the forces of globalization. And they developed the adaption strategy to deal with the diversification of the global market.

Adaption strategy means that the marketers formulate new marketing strategy adapt to the new market. Although the firms can get great profit by adapting their marketing strategy to the requirement of foreign market (McGuinness and Little, 1981), they may also be taken into the trouble of the complexity of managing various marketing strategy due to the specificities of foreign market (Dolan and Simon, 1996). There may a lot of specificities in different countries and regions, such as (1) politico-legal environment , including government policies on competition controls, price, tax controls, tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, wages and so on. (2) economic environment, including wage level , consumers' purchasing power, etc. (3)socio-cultural environment, including cultural traditions, education levels, local customs and language, etc. (4) technological environment, the degree of technology development, the attitude of government toward technology innovation, etc. (5) marketing issues, including local distribution infrastructure (types of outlets, intermediary margins and transportation costs), competitive practices and so on.

Luis et al (2008) developed a measurement scale which uses four dimensions to assess the degree of marketing strategy: (1) product adaptation, it refers to the degree to which the product in the export countries differs from that of domestic ones, including positioning, design, packaging, features, brand, labeling, quality, services, warranty, and items/models in the product line. (2) price adaptation, it refers to the degree to which the pricing in the export countries differs from that of domestic price, including retail price, wholesale/trade price, discounts, profit margins to distributors and end-users, discounts, etc. (2) promotion adaptation, it refers to the degree to which the promotion policies and means in the export countries differs from that at home, including advertising, sales promotion, public relations, media allocation, etc. (4) distribution adaptation, it refers to the difference in distribution channels between export countries and domestic market, including the types of distribution channel, the distribution of profits, etc. The four measures of marketing adaptation strategy is reliable, and they are positively associated with the amount of the financial resources that the firms allocate to the exporting activity (Cross and Chaffin, 1982; Cadogan et al., 1999; Luis et al, 2008).

3.4 Summary

With the increasingly fierce competition in international market, one of the major goals of international marketers is to understand the mechanisms partnerships worldwide, and to improve their performance through marketing strategies (Katsikeas, 2006). And the debate on standardization strategy and adaptation strategy began to emerge. At the beginning, some scholars in favor of the standardization strategy argued that the most basic human needs are the same all over the world: pursuit for a better life, wealth, beauty, health, and freedom, possessing a happy family, nurturing mother-child relationships (Elinder, 1961).

However, after a number of empirical studies, this point of view is challenged. After analysis of economic data, including the degree of competition, education levels of consumers, standard of living, wage level and economic development, Dunn (1966) found that the overall performance of standardization strategy and adaptation strategy is more or less the same. Theodosiou and Leonidou (2003) did a comprehensive comparison of the standardization strategy and adaptation strategy, using 35 items that have influence on the marketing strategy: 11 items for product, 11 items for promotion, eight items for pricing, and five items for distribution. And the extensive researches also revealed that there are many factors, external of internal, have influences on the degree of standardization or adaptation (Levitt, 1983; Jain, 1989; Ozsomer et al., 1991; Theodosiou and Leonidou, 2003,). Therefore, there are benefits for both standardization strategy and adaptation strategy, because firms are faced by different business environment (Katsikeas et al., 2006). After review the related literates (Levitt, 1983; Jain, 1989; Terpstra et al., 2006), the factors favoring standardization or adaptation are summarized below by Luis (2008).

Factors favoring standardization:

(1) The company focuses on industrial products instead of consumer products.

(2) The cost of production is vey low due to the economies of scale in production, marketing, and R&D.

(3) The market at home and the exporting countries is similar in income levels, economic growth, policy of government on market, and social environment, and the consumers have the similar tastes , consumption patterns.

(4) The cost of adaptation is very high.

(5) The marketing strategy of competitors is standardization strategy, and the competition is focused on price.

(6) Centralization of authority for establishing policies on the marketing strategies and allocating resources in the new market.

(7) The link between the subsidiary and the headquarters is very strong.

(8) The developing strategy is ethnocentric oriented.

(9) The development of market in the exporting countries and domestic markets for the product are in the same stage.

Factors favoring adaptation:

(1) The company focuses on providing consumer products, which are influenced by individual tastes and favors.

(2) It may bring higher profits by providing variations according to consumer needs.

(3) The purchasing power of the exporting market is different form the domestic market, or the policy environment of the exporting market is different form the domestic market, including products' technical standards, local content laws, price control, and tax policies, etc.

(4) The cultural and social environment is different, including cultural traditions, education levels, language, tastes and consumption habits, etc.

(5) The competitors developed the adaptation strategy, and the competition is focused on differentiated products.

(6) The authority is decentralized.

(7) The link between the subsidiary and the headquarters is weak, and the subsidiaries can develop their own products.

(8) The developing strategy is polycentric oriented.

(9) The development of market in the exporting countries and domestic markets for the product are in different stages.

From the analysis above, we can find that both standardization strategy and adaptation strategy have their advantages and can be used under different situation, it is important for companies to use these marketing strategies according to their own practical situation.

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