Trends and Relevance in International Digital Marketing

Trends and Relevance in International Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing TrendsLeading on from the cultural quirks blog post, we look at a similar idea: trends and relevance. Rather than a numerical based theory, this is the idea that we look at people’s interests, the way they act and temporary trends in order to create effective marketing campaigns.

This can be behavioural trends, for example are people buying online? Are they listening to a certain type of music? Are they responsive to certain adverts? It could also be cultural trends around events, for example Christmas and other traditions.

In a culture in which Christmas isn’t celebrated, running Christmas related adverts, with Santa, Rudolph and snow is likely to be ineffective and may cause offence or anger. Also, if Justin Bieber isn’t famous or popular in a certain country, it may be a better idea to find the top artist in the local charts for celebrity endorsements instead.

Different cultures have different views on beauty, success and responsibility. Also, if a certain behaviour or appearance is not considered the norm in one society, then it may be worth avoiding using it as an aspirational image in an advert.

Pepsodent and White Teeth
We’ve all been in situations when someone we know describes someone else as good looking, when we see them as average. Or we see someone as being beautiful, but our friends see them as unattractive. Beauty is very subjective.

In Western culture, however, there are a number of beauty norms. Generally lots of fat is seen as unattractive, full bodied hair is seen as attractive, wrinkles are seen as unattractive and white, straight teeth are seen as attractive.

The dental industry in the United States is worth a lot of money, with many wanting to achieve the perfect smile in terms of shape and colour. Products that promote the whitening of teeth have, in recent decades performed well in the U.S, one of these being Pepsodent.

Pepsodent manufactures toothpaste and took its popular brand across to Asia. The company promoted its tooth whitening toothpaste in parts of South East Asia, explaining that it would help whiten teeth. However, this failed when it became clear that locals saw black teeth as being attractive, with many chewing betel nuts in order to get the perfect black tooth look.

So you’ve done your research and you know what the local culture is all about. You have learnt their behaviors and the latest trends. What do you do with the information?

Firstly think about where these trends are taking place. Are trends growing on social media? Are they growing via email? What are the behavioural trends? Are people buying online? Are certain age groups responding to online advertising?

Once you’ve gained this information from online research, you’ll be able to see which channels are worth using. If, for example, millennials in France are watching most of their media through YouTube, then if you are looking to target millennials, use YouTube.

These trends change all the time (hence me not writing a list of statistics in this book!) so by looking at articles and reports, you will be able to get an idea of what is going on in your target country. This will allow you to choose which channels in which to put the majority of your efforts.

You can also find out whether there are partnership opportunities by finding out what your target audience in that country is interested that relates to your brand. If you are selling football boots, for example and you want to cover the Japanese market, is there a Japanese footballer who is gaining in popularity there? Or are more people who are likely to play football in Japan interested in the French league, the Italian league, the English league or another league? This will help you to choose the type of content that you include on your website and marketing messages.

The WWE is a global household name based in the United States, but often needs to work hard to maintain and grow its reputation in other key markets around the world. The United Kingdom is one of the most important markets for the company, and they often stage huge wrestling shows in the larger cities including London, Manchester and Glasgow.

Taking advantage of a PR opportunity, the company invited England and (at the time) Manchester United football star Wayne Rooney to appear at one of their shows and slap British wrestler Wade Barrett. The two had previously had Twitter feuds as Barrett, a Preston North End fan, accused Rooney of diving during an FA Cup match between Manchester United and Preston. The feud continued for months, ending with Barrett shouting at Rooney on the WWE’s TV show ‘RAW’ in a scripted segment. Rooney then slapped the wrestler, causing Barrett’s fellow wrestler, Sheamus becoming distracted and losing his match.

The WWE, in an attempt to increase its reputation amongst the market of young men in the United Kingdom, took advantage of the fame of Wayne Rooney amongst that group. The result, lots of coverage in newspapers and even on the BBC’s website.

Social, Direct Marketing and SEM

By knowing the trends of the target market, and what they are talking about at that time, you can choose what to talk about via your social media channels. If a TV show is popular in your target market in your target country, you could use in-jokes from that in your posts. If there is a local holiday, be it a historical event, a bank holiday or a religious event, you could talk about that in your posts.

This can also impact your email direct marketing and traditional direct marketing. If you are targeting a country that takes a certain day off work to celebrate on a certain day, for example, thanks giving in the United States, then consider the timing of your messages. Would they be intrusive? Would they be ignored? Again, much like your social media content, these trends can dictate what you talk about too.

For PPC and SEO efforts, you can take these trends into account by seeing what people are searching for. Look to see what is getting news coverage too.

Your Product Range
As we saw earlier, Pepsodent made the mistake of promoting a certain part of their product to a market that was uninterested in it. Sometimes, it is important to think not just about the marketing messages but whether you promote a certain product at all. Perhaps you would need to adjust what you offer to suit the local market.

Following useful insight into food preferences, Dominoes Pizza chose to offer different toppings to suit the local markets. Their Chinese pizzas were fish-based, with Indian customers enjoying curry themed pizza. This sort of insight and action and really help you step up your game in international markets, whilst keeping your key central core product or service.

About the Author

Patrick is a digital marketing consultant with around 10 years' experience, covering SEO, PPC, social media, email and user experience.

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