Favourite International Marketing Mistakes

Getting your name, brand, image, colour, strapline and even product right when you go abroad can be a real challenge even to big, established corporations.  It’s often about a lot more than just correct translation – it’s about cultural awareness, doing your research and making sure that you understand what your research results mean (that you are interpreting them correctly).

As a fun Friday activity, here are a few of my favourite examples.  See if you can spot what happened in each case:

1) The company Vicks had to change its name in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

2) Kelloggs breakfast cereals did not take off as expected in India, even when they introduced mango and rosewater-flavoured cereal.

Geneva Car Show - car manufacturers are particularly vulnerable to misinterpretation with their fanciful names

3) Mitsubishi Pajero changed its name to Montero in Latin America and Spain, and to Shogun in the UK.  Ford Pinto also had to change its name in Brazil after disappointing sales.

4) The first Barbie doll in Japan attracted comment but very few sales.

5) Shito Sweetmix will never do well in the UK/US market.

6) Hallmark cards had to admit failure in France.

7) A small but exclusive company specialising in personalised, hand-made gifts and cards could not understand why it was failing to capture the imagination of the Eastern European market.

8) French dairy group organised focus groups and market research in Japan and was pretty sure that yoghurt was the next big thing to an increasingly Westernised palate there.  But their product bombed when it was launched.

9) Mercedes Benz E-Class Sedans were selling only 10% of their Indian-based manufacturing output to Indians.

10) OK, this is a well-known one, but it always makes me laugh….   ‘Nothing sucks like an Electrolux’ did not do wonders for sales of the Swedish vacuum-cleaner in the US.

Answers coming on Monday!


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Filed under Business cultur, Globalization

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