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Step 8: Preparing your export plan

You are here:Step 8: Preparing your export plan > Preparing an export marketing strategy for your firm > The export product > Product adaptation vs standardisation



Product adaptation vs standardisation


When planning to enter (a) foreign market(s), you need to consider whether or not your current products will meet the needs of the foreign target market. After all, this market is likely to have a totally different environment that you will need to come to terms with. As we have mentioned before, this environment may have socio-cultural, legal, economic, technical and even geographic differences from the domestic market that you are familiar with. The market research investigations that you have undertaken should provide you with a good idea as to what product strategy you need to follow.

Technically, there are essentially three product strategies at your disposal. These are:

  1. Sell the same product as you are currently selling in the domestic market, to all of your foreign target markets - product standardisation
  2. Modify the product to meet the needs of the foreign environment - product adaptation
  3. Invest in and develop a totally new product for the export market - new product development

Given the limited resources and competitive strengths of most companies, it is unlikely that your company would be able to tackle both a new market and invest in new product development simultaneously. It is also very seldom that companies can enter a foreign market without adapting their product at all (this is commonly referred to as product standardisation) - usually some form of product modification is necessary (if only very minor - this is referred to as product adaptation or product differentiation). The realistic choice at your disposal is therefore:

  • Make only the minimum of changes to your product to meet the needs of the foreign marketplace; or
  • Make significant changes to your product in order to meet the needs of the foreign marketplace

In choosing a particular product strategy, you need to compare the likely improvement in sales turnover and profit levels with the additional costs involved in, for example, product modifications, new market research, additional product R&D, and shorter production runs. However, the firm would first have to assess:

  • How much is already known about the customer requirements in the various markets
  • The extent to which these requirements differ
  • Whether the various requirements could be met through superficial changes to the product (e.g. packaging) or whether the product will have to be completely redesigned
  • The extent to which customers in different markets could, as a result of various promotional messages, be persuaded to accept a product which will have less than ideal characteristics, but would nevertheless be cheaper, rather than one which has been completely adapted to their needs but which will ultimately be more expensive
  • The size of the market, as this would determine whether or not product modification would, in fact, be profitable

It should not be forgotten that the product is more than just a physical item - it is a bundle of utilities that the buyer receives. These utilities include the product's form, taste, colour, odour, texture, its packaging, labelling, warranty, service requirements, etc., as well as the actual functioning of the product. In short, the market will react to a product in the light of its own values and customs.

Let us briefly discuss the factors influencing the choice of product strategy.



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Step 8: more information

Step 8: Preparing your export plan
      Synopsis of research already done
      Revisiting an export SWOT analysis of the firm
      Setting the export objectives of the firm
      Preparing an export marketing strategy for your firm
                  The export product
                              .Factors favouring product standardisation
                              .Factors favouring product adaptation
                              .Mandatory product modifications
                              .Evaluating the need for product modification
                        New product development
                        Eliminating obsolete products
                        Product quality and design
                        Improving the production process
                        Packaging for exports
                        Labelling for exports
                        Product brands and trademarks
                        Product servicing
                  The export price
                  Export promotion
                  Export distribution
      Preparing an export budget for your firm
      Outlining an implementation schedule for your export activities
      Preparing and presenting your export plan
      Obtaining approval for your export plan


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More information on Step 8
Learning to export...
The export process in 21 easy steps
Step 1: Considering exporting
Step 2:Current business viability
Step 3:Export readiness
Step 4:Broad mission statement and initial budget
Step 5:Confirming management's commitment to exports
Step 6: Undertaking an initial SWOT analysis of the firm
Step 7:Selecting and researching potential countries abroad
Step 8: Preparing and implementing your export plan
Step 9: Obtaining financing for your exports
Step 10: Managing your export risk
Step 11: Promoting the firm and its products abroad
Step 12: Negotiating and quoting in exports
Step 13: Revising your export costings and price
Step 14: Obtaining the export order
Step 15: Producing the goods
Step 16: Handling the export logistics
Step 17: Export documentation
Step 18: Providing follow-up support
Step 19: Getting paid
Step 20: Reviewing and improving the export process
Step 21: Export Management
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