In the nowadays world, when the entire social environment is dominated by the commercial aspects and the advertising enters the intimacy of consumers, branding is increasingly significant and its approach is to influence consumers’ choices by creating positive associations and appealing to their emotional side for determining them to choose one brand over another. In this tight competition for market share companies have taken globally their strategies to position as good as possible their brands in the consumers’ mind, understanding that an international approach comes with a correct branding strategy. Although there is no receipt for a correct international branding strategy, companies are placing their brands globally by approaching either a standardization or an adaptation strategy, or by combining these two in order to find the most fitted solution for attracting the customers in the targeted country. In pursuing an international brand strategy an essential role is played by the country of origin, which can have positive, or on the contrary, negative effects on the way the brands are being perceived in the targeted countries. The Turkish brands and Turkey as the country of origin are analyzed in this research paper, being the focus of the underpinned study, conducted on consumers from developed and developing countries for assessing their opinions and attitudes towards Turkish brands and Turkey as the country of origin. Beko, a Turkish brand is examined for finding how it elaborates its international branding strategy and how it is perceived by foreign consumers. The research paper advances several hypothesis that center the international branding strategies and approaches, their influence on brand awareness and implicitly on brand equity or the image of the country of origin for triggering the brand loyalty.
Key words: advertising, brand, consumers, global, international branding strategy, standardization, adaptation, country of origin, target country, image, attitude, Turkish brands, Turkey, Beko.
Coping with the current advertising tendencies and strategies implies a global approach and this is why companies that have understood the importance of moving from a local focus to a global vision have more chances on achieving success in placing their brands on foreign markets/countries. There is more to it, however, than simply knowing that a global approach is good for business. In order for a brand to be successful on foreign markets, there should be designed effective international marketing brand strategies, based on standardization and/or adaptation of the brands. Likewise, a significant aspect that accounts for the brands’ success in international markets is the country or origin and its image. In fact, country of origin is an asset, a value that adds to the other values that constitute a brand, but it can actually be beneficial or detrimental to a brand, as this study finds, after studying the Turkish brands.
Aims and objectives
The current research paper aims to discuss about branding, about how simple products/services, etc. become brands through various and complex processes, about international branding and the strategies required for an efficient positioning in the targeted countries (standardization or adaptation, or both and how much of each is necessary for achieving the success of the brands on foreign countries), about the effect of country of origin and country of manufacture on the success of a foreign brand on a local market and about Turkish brands, with a special focus on Beko, and the foreign consumers’ attitudes regarding Turkey as the country of origin.
The objective of this study is to undertake an in – depth literature review about the international branding strategies, finding relevant theories that support either standardization or adaptation or explanations of why both strategies should be used and mixed and about the image of the country of origin and how it affects the consumers’ buying attitudes. Moreover, another objective of this dissertation is to examine Turkey as the country of origin and to assess whether this country has a positive or a negative effect on the foreign consumers’ buying decisions.
The need for the study
As the global economy is rapidly expanding, international marketing is not an option anymore. Companies must learn how to position their brands in an efficient manner, without compromising their image, but being careful to align to the targeted countries’ cultural and social specificities. In this context, the current study is necessary as it portrays a mirror of the current marketing environments, where the main actors are the brands, traveling outside their origin country in order to find consumers that would appreciate them. This study offers important information about international marketing and international branding strategies, being necessary for the companies that seek to place their brands on foreign markets.
Significance of the study
Besides the fact that the current dissertation will contribute to the existent literature on international branding strategy, proposing a structured and organized discussion on the elements that imply an international branding strategy, it is significant because it examines Turkish, a developing country as the case study, in order to observe how it applies the elements of international branding strategies in foreign countries and how these strategies work. The findings will contribute to a better understanding of the Turkish global branding strategies, which will allow for a correction of the applied strategies, if the need would be identified, or a correction of other elements that constitute the international branding strategies, as the image of the country of origin, which is a significant aspect for Turkish brands and the country’s economy, overall. Incorporating two surveys (one from a developing country and one from a developed country) will contribute to analyzing how Beko is perceived in a developing and in a developed country, based on its association with Turkey as its country of origin.
Limitations of the study
Discussing about brands represents a qualitative approach in itself, because consumers have different values on which they develop their attitudes towards various brands. Although there are branding elements designed on the targeted consumers’ likes, dislikes, behaviors and attitudes, branding and international branding, as well as the discussion about the image of the country of brand’s origin as impacting its international success are subjective, hence the limitation of the study. Nevertheless, because the current research incorporates a specific examination of a brand (Beko), assessing the response of the developed and developing countries regarding Beko (as originating from Turkey) through a quantitative technique (two surveys), , this study is focused, allowing limited subjectivity. Adding to this an interview with Beko’s marketing manager that was included in this study, makes this research valuable and coherent.
The current dissertation discussed about branding and international branding strategies, bringing in front preoccupation regarding standardization, adaptation and the image of the country of origin as significant elements that define the success of international branding strategies and of how brands are received by the consumers abroad, in developed and developing countries. The research paper concluded that standardization and adaptation are strategies that should be used in a mixed form, and it depends on the specificities of each brand how much of the original brand should remain in its natural form (standardized) and how much of the brand should be adjusted to the realities of the targeted countries (adapted).
The image of the country of origin of the product is essential in determining the success of a brand abroad and also in delineating how much of the brand should be adaptation and how much standardization. This study indicated that in international branding, the consumers’ attitudes towards brands are influenced, among others, on the brands’ country of origin. As such, brands originating from developed countries are perceived with a positive image, while the brands coming from developing countries are perceived with a negative image, being associated with an imbalanced and disorganized economy and political and social ambiguities. Moreover, when consumers have no previous experience with a brand coming from another country, they tend to associate it either with its country of origin (and with this approach they put a stamp on the brand, based on which the “made in” is the most important element of the brand) either with other brands coming from that country, if they or their acquaintances have experienced other products from the COO.
In Turkey’s case, the country of origin imposes a negative image because of the country’s political instability, its past as a medieval oppressive power and because of the fact that it is a developing country, associated mostly with its Muslim influences than with its European tradition. The image of the coo in Turkey’s case imposes a negative attitude on the Turkish brands from the international consumers.
As such, in Beko’s case, the current study revealed that consumers from developed countries preferred brands coming from developed countries, especially from their own countries, in order to encourage and sustain their own economy. In the developing countries, the consumers also prefer similar brands with Beko, coming from the developed countries, as a statement of associating themselves with the values that the developed countries stand for. This sustains the hypothesis according to which the country of origin affects the success of the brand going internationally. Accordingly, this fact determines the low brand awareness of Turkish brands throughout the world, and implicitly a low brand loyalty and brands equity.
Turkish brands are depreciated when they are connected with their country of origin in the developed countries, as a survey employed in this study that assessed the English consumers’ intentions of buying Beko products illustrated. This indeed confirms the theory that the developed countries’ consumers prefer their own brands for supporting their country’s economy, which was elaborated in the study. However, another survey developed within this study, indicated that Beko was not affected by its country of origin in developing countries. These findings call for an adaptation strategy for Beko, wherein for developed country it should apply a minimized pricing strategy and a rebranding would also be required, in order to lose the association with Turkey as COO, as it is affecting the brand’s value and its success. For the developing countries it should adjust to the cultural preferences and the needs of those markets.
Through the general aspects that it reached, regarding global international branding strategy the current research paper is significant for students interested in learning more about international branding strategies, but is a very useful research tool for the managers and business consultants who intend or plan international branding expansion. The study is also highly valuable for the Turkish brand managers, who face the problems of placing their local brands on international markets and need to understand what brand elements should be emphasized in the standardization process and in the adaptation process, while managing the challenge of the Turkish brands’ country of origin, which affects their success on the foreign markets.