Over the past year, we’ve seen a number of interesting trends across top U.S.-based multinational companies who are focused on expanding or further developing their international customer relationship marketing strategies.
1. Companies are turning to international markets as a way to drive revenue
The U.S. continues to be a challenging economic environment. Companies are faced with cost pressures and the need to show strong ROI in order to get the funding needed to implement their marketing strategies. In many cases, companies are looking at continuing their investment in higher growth markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), which account for 41% of the world’s population and 20% of its GDP. The combination of large population sizes, stronger economic growth and large, emerging middle classes are making these countries a priority for 2013. In addition, companies this year will begin entering the next tier of countries across all continents to further expand their international presence and growth.
2. Global marketers will make strides in evangelizing a CRM mindset throughout their organizations
Becoming a customer-centric organization remains a key objective for marketing executives. However, driving this thinking into the executive suite remains a challenge. And this challenge gets even more complicated when you are talking about large organizations that are responsible for people in multiple countries, different time zones and who communicate in different languages. But global marketers will use technology along with the integration of “big data” to create customer data knowledge centers, which will enable common customer insights that unify the organization.
3. The time is right for alignment between global and local teams
Executives responsible for global marketing will continue to look for the right balance between global and local. With increased pressure to grow revenue through international markets, executives will spend more time understanding their priority countries and infusing market strategy talent from within the organization or through their partners. In addition, they will leverage their database technology investments to help drive alignment between the global and regional teams, gaining efficiency and best practice sharing.
4. The regional concept is becoming obsolete
While companies continue to organize by region (e.g. Latin America), marketers are finding that proximity among countries – be it geographical or by time zone – doesn’t mean that strategy and tactics are transcendent. It might be convenient to galvanize in a regional context but the reality is that very little CRM success has been achieved by picking up marketing activities from one country within a region and implementing similar tactics in another country. Marketers are discovering that frameworks such as EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) have very little practical use. Marketing expertise in the United Kingdom doesn’t easily translate in France, never mind Turkey or Morocco. U.S. multinationals must dispense with this tired, inefficient regional paradigm and instead focus on which countries to bet on, as focusing on depth, not breadth will yield greater returns.
5. Big data is less of a concern than basic data
In the U.S., you are exposed to articles, conferences and sales pitches on big data every week. And there is a vast array of accessible data available to drive customer insight and marketing, especially with newer touchpoints and interactive channels. However, outside of the U.S., direct marketing is really a back to the basics mentality. In fact, marketers will tackle the fundamentals in 2013 so that they can move on to big data in the future. The emphasis will be on capturing data, creating a high quality data environment, and getting access to the data needed to drive customer analytics, insight and marketing programs. And doing all of this in a manner that is compliant with privacy and regulatory restrictions is crucial in every country.