Marketers Focus More On Global `Tribes'
Valentin Chapero, chief executive of Swiss-based Phonak Group, knows that baby boomers around the world dread the thought of needing his company's hearing devices. Whether they live in London, Los Angeles or Lima, Peru, they tend to resist buying a product associated with aging.
Yet tens of millions of people over the age of 50 already have some hearing loss. To woo them, Mr. Chapero and his managers are addressing their common qualms. Phonak's new Audeo device comes in 15 fashionable colors, looks more like a sleek ear phone than an old-fashioned hearing aid and is being marketed as a 'personal communication assistant.' Advertisements in a dozen languages feature youthful-looking customers who lead interesting lives, such as a hedge-fund manager who is also an amateur boxer.
'We'll only get close to baby boomers -- who, whether they're Europeans or Americans all have a similar psychology -- if we take away the stigma and show them a product that is high-tech and hip and easily improves the quality of their lives,' says Mr. Chapero.
Executives seeking to expand their companies' global reach long have focused on tailoring products to fit the local tastes of consumers in different countries. Increasingly, however, they also have a strong sense of the commonality of their global consumers. As the world shrinks, especially for young, Internet-savvy consumers, they must now also cater to particular subcultures of customers who share very similar outlooks, styles and aspirations despite their different nationalities and languages.
'We're seeing global tribes forming around the world that are more and more interconnected through technology,' says Melanie Healey, president, Global Health and Feminine Care at Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati.
Among these tribes: teenagers from every continent who socialize on the Internet and like the same music and fashions, working women trying to juggle careers and families, and baby boomers. 'If you focus on the similarities instead of the differences [in these tribes], key business opportunities emerge,' says Ms. Healey.
Managers in P&G's feminine-care products division, for example, are using this approach to efficiently reach more global customers. After conducting extensive market research, they concluded that teenage girls on every continent have the same concerns and questions about puberty. That means 'we can write all the answers at once for the Web site -- which is available in 40 countries -- and then translate these into many languages,' says Bob Arnold, Global FemCare interactive manager and head of P&G's beinggirl.com Web site. 'It's more efficient -- and we don't need offices all over the world to do this.'
'Historically we used to be focused on discovering the common hopes and dreams within a country, but now we're seeing that the real commonalities are in generations across geographical borders,' adds James Haskett, brand franchise leader of P&G's Global Always/Whisper brands.
This doesn't mean that P&G sells identical products everywhere, however. The company's Always Fresh brand has a light fragrance in the U.S. and Latin America, for instance, but is unscented in other parts of the world.
Sujay Wason, associate marketing director for feminine care, believes in blending the two marketing strategies. 'You've got to be both local and global and understand what will work in several places, and what won't' by spending lots of time with customers. Last week, he and colleagues visited customer homes in Dallas, after working in Brazil and Mexico in prior weeks.
Clinique, a unit of Estee Lauder, sells skin-care products and makeup in 130 countries, but markets products that sell to particular skin types and skin tones regardless of the consumers' nationalities. Because women all around the world buy about the same fashions and cosmetics on the Internet, beauty regimens, in general, are becoming more universal, says CEO Lynne Greene.
So are household-cleaning and food-cooking practices. Alfa, the Mexican conglomerate, is finding in its market research that Mexican women increasingly want foods that are easier to prepare. 'They don't want entirely premade the way many Americans do because they still want to get credit for doing the cooking, but they want shortcuts,' says Tom Kuczmarski, president of Kuczmarski & Associates, a Chicago marketing consultant.
Of course, selling food is different from selling washing machines. 'There may be more consistencies when selling nondurable consumer products globally than cars or other heavier equipment,' says Marti Barletta, who runs the TrendSight Group in Winnetka, Ill.
Even so, she says, female consumers can cut across lines. Women everywhere, she says, 'respond to marketing that emphasizes people.'
'Going global isn't a big mystery,' adds P&G's Ms. Healey. 'There is so much common ground, so much universality among people.'
生产助听设备的瑞士Phonak Group首席执行长瓦伦丁•夏普罗(Valentin Chapero)知道，全世界的婴儿潮一代提到助听设备就会感到不安。不论是伦敦人、洛杉矶人还是利马人，只要是上了年纪的人对与“变老”有关的产品大多都很抵触。
宝洁公司(Procter & Gamble Co.)全球卫生与女性护理部门总裁梅莱妮•海丽(Melanie Healey)说：我们发现，由于科技的推广应用，世界范围内的相互联系日渐紧密，进而形成了许多全球性的消费亚文化“族群”。
例如宝洁女性护理部(Global FemCare)的经理们就运用这一方法在全球有效争取更多的客户。经过广泛的调查他们发现，全球各地的未成年少女有着相同的青春期烦恼和问题。该部门分管互动事务的经理、负责管理宝洁网站beinggirl.com的鲍勃•阿诺德(Bob Arnold)表示，公司的网站可以在40多个国家看到，我们可以对所有这些问题一一作出解答并放在网页上，然后翻译成多种语言。这样的办法更有效率，无需全球各地的办事部门分别来做。
宝洁护舒宝(Global Always/Whisper)品牌业务负责人詹姆斯•哈斯科特(James Haskett)称，过去公司将精力放在探索某一个国家消费者的消费诉求。现在，公司关注的是全世界各年龄段人士的共同消费偏好。
雅诗兰黛(Estee Lauder)子公司倩碧(Clinique)的护肤品和化妆品销往全球130个国家，但产品只根据肤质和肤色划分，而不是国家。该公司首席执行长琳恩•格琳(Lynne Greene)表示，全世界的女性都在网上购买相同的时装和化妆品，总体而言，各国公众的审美观正越来越趋同化。
在保洁和烹饪方面也是如此。墨西哥公司Alfa在市场调研中发现，本国妇女希望烹饪简单化的愿望越来越强。芝加哥咨询机构Kuczmarski & Associates总裁汤姆•库兹马斯基(Tom Kuczmarski)说，虽然墨西哥妇女仍希望靠自己的厨艺来博得好名声，因此不会像美国女性那样采用完全加工好的食品，但她们希望能有更简便的办法。
当然，销售食品与销售洗衣机完全是两码事。经营伊利诺伊州TrendSight Group玛蒂•巴列塔(Marti Barletta)称，在世界不同地区销售非耐用消费品所具有的一致性相比销售汽车等重型设备的一致性可能要大些。