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How to Avoid Business Blunders Abroad. David A. Ricks. Introduction. Locating a fast-food restaurant in high-traffic areas (Munich, Germany). Ask the right questions (Land in Sicily) Location! (pineapple plant in Mexico). Picking the Package. Adapting packaging to the local environment

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  • Locating a fast-food restaurant in high-traffic areas (Munich, Germany).
  • Ask the right questions (Land in Sicily)
  • Location! (pineapple

plant in Mexico).

picking the package
Picking the Package
  • Adapting packaging to the local environment
    • White symbolizes death in Japan
    • Green represents danger or disease in Malasia
    • Numbers in Japan may be evil (even numbers of products pictured on a label)
    • Baby’s picture on the baby

food jar in Africa

  • Suggests test market, brief

survey, interviews or discussions may

have avoided these blunders.

changing the product
Changing the Product
  • American brands sell well if the product is adapted (Tastes).
    • Product consistency/texture (Jello)
    • Campbell’s soup in Great Britain (not condensed)
  • Dishwashers for example
    • Different Electricity requirements (110 vs. 220 v)
    • Water pressure differences
    • Accommodate different sized and shaped dishes & utensils
the language barrier
The Language Barrier
  • Company or Product name
    • Coca-Cola in China - “Bite the Wax Tadpole”
    • GM’s Nova in Puerto Rico - “it doesn’t go”
    • US oil co. in Latin

America – “jackass oil”

    • Shampoo “Evitol” in Brazil
      • “Dandruff Contraceptive”
    • Chocolates in the USA by German firm – “Zit!”
    • Airline in Australia – “EMU”
    • “gift” in German is “poison”
respecting nationalism
Respecting Nationalism
  • Spanish Manufacturer flying a US flag
  • Product comparisons are ok, comparing governments is not!
  • Hiring from within host country!
problems with promotions
Problems with Promotions
  • Promotion without coordination

of production and delivery

  • McDonnell Douglas showed Turbaned

men in an aircraft brochure for a promotion

in India – The men were Pakistani

  • The Marlboro Man in Hong Kong – people could not associate with horseback riding
  • The slogan “With XXX your already there” promoting air travel (on a cemetery wall).
  • The word “Deer” in Brazilian is the name for homosexual.
promotions cont d
Promotions (cont’d.)
  • “you can use no finer napkin at your dinner table” (in the UK napkin means Diaper)
  • The advertising budget can not simply be set as a percentage of sales
    • Media types available differ
    • Small subsidiaries may not produce much revenue
observing local customs
Observing Local Customs
  • Norms
    • British tea breaks
    • Local holidays
    • Public display of affection unacceptable in Thailand
    • BiNoca Talc Commercial in India – Apparently nude woman?
    • Display of the sole of the foot or shoe is insulting in some countries
local customs cont d
Local Customs (Cont’d.)
  • Women playing golf with men and wearing shorts in Quebec.
  • Pepsodent promoted toothpaste that “enhance white teeth” in southeast Asia, however, some local people chew betel nut to achieve the social prestige of darkly stained teeth.
  • Promoting eyeglasses in Thailand using animals?
  • Religious symbols used in advertising?
  • Refrigerator co using a picture of a large Ham in the ice box to promote its product in the Middle East
be sure it translates
Be sure it translates
  • “Come alive with Pepsi” in German “Come alive out of the grave with Pepsi,” in Asia “Bring back your dead relatives with Pepsi”
  • Hunt Wesson marketed Beans in Tomato sauce in Quebec as “Gros Jos,” which translated means “Big Breasts”
  • “Body by Fisher” in Flemmish “Corpse by Fisher”
  • “Billion” contains 9 zeros in the US and 12 zeros in Europe.
what can be done
What can be done?
  • Back translation
  • Market research
  • Representatives or employees who are versed in local customs (born there!)
  • Keep it short
  • Avoid slang
  • Avoid humor
  • Cite examples
  • Repeat important points