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Standardisation and Adaptation in Marketing

Business Management and Enterprise (Year 12) - Management (U3)

Kanwal Singh

Standardisation and Adaptation in the Marketing Mix

Standardisation and adaptation are two different options that global brands can adopt:



Standardisation involves uniformity in an organisation’s marketing mix, which is used to take advantage of the benefits from economies of scale, whilst also enhancing brand identity, recognition and loyalty.

  • Benefits of standardisation:

    • Provides a consistent message

    • Can take advantage of economies of scale, especially through manufacturing and marketing

    • Awareness of same branding across different markets enhances brand identity and reputation

    • Allows for quality improvement on specific market strategy and product

  • Disadvantages of standardisation:

    • Lacks uniqueness and may not be competitive with local firms

    • Current market strategy may be culturally insensitive to the market that the business is looking to expand into. This can lead to controversial outcomes.

    • May not comply with legal requirements concerning product liability and intellectual property rights



Adaptation is the process of adapting a business’ marketing mix to meet regional and national preferences. Some call this ‘glocalisation’ (from blending the words ‘global’ and ‘localisation’)

  • Benefits of adaptation:

    • Shows respect for the local market and accounts for cultural differences

    • Leads to better company image, which could increase sales

    • Leads to greater customer satisfaction

    • Local popularity improves, with word-of-mouth increasing too

  • Disadvantages of adaptation:

    • Costly for a business to change their marketing mix in each country

    • Time-consuming (time is spent in market research and adaptation)

    • Less consistency in marketing mix, impacting brand identity and recognition


It is also important to note that the disadvantages of standardisation can help make a case for adaptation, and vice versa.


A global company’s choice in either standardisation or adaptation has many affects on their marketing mix, seen below.


Elements of the Marketing Mix

There are four aspects of the marketing mix that are analysed in the WACE course:


Corporate Slogan

A short phrase that encapsulates firm’s mission and attracts customer attention.

  • Standardisation:

    • Can assist firms to promote company’s innovations

    • Creates brand awareness and customer loyalty

    • Increased global recognition due to single slogan being used all over the world

    • Increased market share

    • Economies of scale in marketing and promotional activities

  • Adaptation:

    • Shows respect for local culture

    • Prevents offensive or embarrassing translation (e.g., KFC’s “finger-lickin’ good” got translated into “eat your fingers off” in the Chinese market)

    • Competitive advantage by accounting for cultural variations

    • Leads to improved company image

Product name

The title/label that captures the purpose, function, or benefits of a particular good/service. The product name contributes to brand recognition through its ability to attach characteristics to a firm or product.

  • Standardisation:

    • Increased brand awareness (allows firm to sell the brand as well as the product)

    • Mass market products can be sold easily

    • Economies of scale from uniformity in marketing messages and promotion

    • Standardised product names allows firm to sell a new or improved product using an already well-known product name (e.g., each year's new iPhone)

  • Adaptation:

    • Prevents offensive or embarrassing translations (e.g., the Nova car was introduced to the Spanish market, which translated to "it doesn’t go")

    • Shows respect for local markets and culture

    • The product stands individually in the market. Therefore, bad brand publicity may not necessarily affect sales of product.

Product features

The distinguishable characteristics and qualities of a good/service, in terms of its appearance, capabilities, and components. They can provide a unique selling point (USP) and product differentiation.

  • Standardisation:

    • Economies of scale in production phase (made possible through automation)

    • Quality control and assurance is possible across products

    • Improvements in quality, as the firm can focus research and development on specific aspects of their products

    • Identical global packaging, which leads to lower costs

    • Mass-market products are best suited with standardised product features, to ensure uniformity around the world

  • Adaptation:

    • Considers consumer preferences. Small adjustments in features can make specific products more useful in specific markets

    • Shows respect for local market and culture

    • Can change and augment the product to meet the tastes of the market


The positioning is the perception of a product in relation to others in the same market.

  • Standardisation:

    • Cost savings, due to economies of scale in promotion and production

    • Consistency in message that the brand delivers

    • Develops well-recognised brand identity

    • Improved brand loyalty, value and sales

  • Adaptation:

    • Pricing strategy can be changed to suit demographic and income levels

    • Inputs can be added to suit local tastes and potentially lower costs

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