This chapter builds on Chapter 6, which explained segmentation and customer targeting of familiar territory. Here in Chapter 7, a different approach is explained which is necessary in order to succeed when trying to communicate with an international consumer. Venturing into international markets is a growth opportunity for brands which also present challenges. Unfamiliar cultures have differences in values, language, culture and politics and will not necessarily respond to a brand and its message in the intended way. Being too ethnocentric and relying on consumer behaviour of the brand’s native country can lead to crucial mistakes.

When segmenting an unfamiliar market, it is best to follow two steps: First segment the country in terms of the macro environment and then segment the customer characteristics in a traditional way.

If you know the cultural specifics of the target market, you can create the type of brand communication which will be decoded and understood in the desired way. Examples are presented regarding Japan, Russia and China in terms of intercultural brand communications.

Building on the Communication Model entitled “Coding and Decoding of Messages” Chapter 6, working with unfamiliar territories and unpredictable customer responses, calls for an extension of the communication model “Coding and Decoding of Messages” to six steps and a feedback loop, thus turning a one-way communication model into a two-way communication model. This is illustrated in an innovative “Two-way Communication Model for international markets” model.

In terms of potential abroad, future opportunities lie ahead for brands to expand into promising and growing economies such as the BRICS and South Korea and whilst the USA and Japan remain lucrative consumer markets, they are falling behind. The emerging economies also represent growth potential for e-commerce, a market which is predicted to grow to USD 70bn by 2025. For any global expansion, brands need to carefully research and re-evaluate the dynamics of the country and culture, remain flexible and adapt their product accordingly.

The chapter closes with ethical questions and considerations regarding the content. In particular, looking at miscommunication which can easily backfire and even destroy the business, the Dolce and Gabbana case in 2018 in China is discussed and a light is shone on ethnocentricity.