An innovative product policy
1.1 Given Situation
The importance of International marketing has increased dramatically over the last decades due to dynamic changes and rapid growth in the international business environment. New information technologies and the reductions in trade barriers have made it easier for companies of all sizes to enter foreign markets. Most notably the aggressive behavior of Chinese companies has left its marks on Western countries. Clothing manufacturers and toy makers around the globe are losing market shares. For this reason the competition across national borders has intensified leading to increased and changed trade patterns. 
In order to succeed in international markets and to be able to defend domestic markets companies need to focus on their customers, develop innovative products and identify new market segments. When creating new products and entering foreign markets, international companies have to pay attention to differences in culture, economic structures, consumer needs, laws and regulations and other factors. All these aspects have to be taken into consideration carefully as 90% of newly introduced consumer products fail to succeed within just 12 months.
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An innovative product policy alone is not sufficient for a successful market entry. The introduction of the Video 2000-System is a good example of a superior product failing on the market due to a wrong market entry strategy. The right timing, sequence and mode of entry are key factors to a successful market entry. If, for example a company decides to enter a foreign market through a distributor, the company's freedom in the areas of market research, product development and product policy will be limited. Therefore choosing the right market entry strategy is becoming a crucial part of the company's success, as product life cycles are getting shorter and competitive pressure is rising.
1.2 The Aim of this Thesis
The overall aim of this thesis is to show how the international product policy influences the company's market entry strategy. Furthermore this thesis wants to
* give an insight into the topic of international market entry strategies, its single stages and the strategic decisions companies have to make.
* show the various aspects of an international product policy and how this policy influences decisions regarding the market entry strategy.
The objective of this thesis is to provide a general overview of the mentioned topic issues based on recent research in the field of market entry strategies.
1.3 Frame of Reference
2 Foreign Market Entry Strategy - Theory
This chapter of the thesis provides a detailed insight into the field of market entry strategies. Explaining and illustrating the single steps of a market entry strategy this chapter focuses on the theory of market entry strategies.
The following subchapter explains the most important technical terms used in this field.
2.1.1 Market Entry
A market entry describes the initiation of all the efforts a company has to take upon itself in order to sell a new or existing product to a group of consumers in a market not previously targeted by the company.
2.1.2 Market Entry Strategy
A market entry strategy is defined as all the strategic decisions that a company has to make before entering a new market. The single steps of a market entry strategy are: the target market selection, the timing of the market entry, the sequence and the mode of the market entry. The following illustration gives a general overview of a market entry strategy.
2.2 Target Market Selection
The first step when developing a market entry strategy is to select the right target market. As the importance of market selection criteria varies across companies and industries, it is difficult to setup a generally valid framework. However the main selection criteria can be grouped into four categories: 
1. Market-related characteristics
2. Cost related aspects
3. The regulatory framework
4. Tariffs, duties and non-tariff trade barriers
Each company has to specify individually which variables are applied in the foreign target market selection process, as this depends on the company's resources, capabilities and international objectives.
2.3 Timing of the Market Entry
The timing decision regarding the market entry deals with the launch date of a new product in relation to the competition. Generally there are three main strategies, which are explained in the following.
The pioneer is the first company who enters a new market in a new product category. Whether the entered market actually is a new market, depends on the degree of innovation and the market definition. Because pioneers have to develop new products and technologies their success is based on continuous product innovation. For that matter the pioneer strategy includes a number of chances and risks for a company. In general a pioneer has the advantage of building up its reputation, gaining 100% market share or setting up its own standards. However the risks for a pioneer are high product and market development costs combined with high financial risks.
2.3.2 Early Follower
Instead of developing a market, companies can wait for competitors to innovate and than follow as quickly as possible. Whether a company is an early follower always depends on the number of competitors in a market and the time elapsed between the pioneer's entry and the company's entry. Let us take an example: A company that the third to enter a market with 20 competitors is an early follower, but a late follower in a market with three competitors. Using the early follower approach the company avoids the high financial risks a pioneer has to bear. Companies with an early follower strategy have to identify the research and development projects of their competitors in order to follow as quickly as possible. Being successful, as an early follower requires companies to react quickly when it is obvious that a competitor has developed a potentially successful service or product.
2.3.3 Late Follower
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The late follower generally enters a market years after the pioneer or the early follower. Late follower have access to only a portion of the market share, their buyers are less loyal and the impact on the market of their marketing activities is lower than the impact of a pioneer or an early follower. However, a late follower has the chance to make use of the know-how gained by its competitors and can therefore introduce improved and innovated products to the market with lower financial involvement and risks.
2.4 Sequencing of the Market Entry
The decision whether a company enters, one country at a time or many countries simultaneously, is the third step in every market entry strategy. In general there are three different strategies, the waterfall, the sprinkler and the wave strategy.
2.4.1 The Waterfall Strategy
Companies entering markets progressively one by one are applying the waterfall strategy. Usually the first market entry is into a country that is similar to the domestic market and where the company sees the best perspective for success. After securing its position in the market the company starts focusing on entering the next market. Companies using this strategy can learn from their mistakes during the first entry and improve their strategy for the following market entries. Furthermore this strategy leads to an extension in the product lifecycle, resources can be focused on one country at a time and the risk of failing in other markets is eliminated due to the focus on one market only. However competitors may enter other markets before the company is able to focus on these new markets and build up entry barriers assuming that the company may try to enter this market as well.
2.4.2 The Sprinkler Strategy
When entering the market with a sprinkler strategy companies develop a variety of markets simultaneously. The main aim of this strategy is to distribute all available resources to all countries in order to develop a secure market position and to enter the markets as quickly as possible. For this reason this strategy is not suitable for small and medium sized companies as they usually do not have the financial resources for this approach. This strategy is beneficial for companies with products that have a short product lifecycle and is mainly used by companies with highly standardized products. As companies enter all markets at one and the same time the amortization time for the product development is quicker and the entry risk is shared between all entered markets. However this strategy is very capital intense and a wrong strategic decision may ruin the whole company.
2.4.3 The Wave Strategy
The wave strategy, also called selective model or ad hoc internationalization is a combination of the waterfall and the sprinkler strategy. Within this strategy the company's resources are concentrated upon a group of similar key markets. Companies have the possibility to learn from the first wave entry and adapt their strategy for the second wave. Once the first wave market has generated a secure stream of cash flow, the second wave countries can be entered. A positive aspect of this strategy is that the home country and the first wave countries can secure a loss created by the second wave entry. However, it may be difficult to generate the financial resources for the first wave countries, as the domestic market is the only financial resource.
2.5 The Modes of Entry
The mode of entry describes the part of each market entry strategy, which is used to penetrate one or several target countries selected by the company. The market entry mode determines the equity needed and the company's control over the market. Generally the entry modes are divided into non-equity and equity, this refers to the type of financing involved by the company. However this distinction is not always clear and for this reason it is preferable to divide the entry modes into home country production and overseas or free area production. Therefore the final distinction for market entry modes is export or non-export market entry modes. The following gives an overview of the available entry modes.
Exporting means selling items abroad, which were stored, processed or produced in the supplying company's home country. There are two different kinds of exporting, direct and indirect export.
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When exporting directly the company is responsible for the whole export process. Which means that the company is liable for the initial market contact, market research, the distribution, the pricing and the export documentation. The benefits of this strategy are increased market control, marketing information and the possibility of gaining valuable international marketing expertise.
Indirect exporting means selling products abroad using independent organizations which are located in the company's home country. In fact indirect exporting is like selling products in a domestic market, as the company is not engaging in global marketing and the products are carried abroad by others. However this strategy bears many risks as the company has only little or almost no control over how the products are marketed in the foreign country.
A non-export strategy is used when a company builds up a production base in a foreign country. As shown in 6 there are generally three basic options companies can select when producing overseas.
In this case companies start manufacturing in a foreign country and therefore companies have to invest directly into a foreign market, which is also called foreign direct investment. The reasons for companies to produce abroad can be due to market demands, competitive pressure or government restrictions. Companies usually do not establish manufacturing facilities as their first step of internationalization. However, an exception may be that the company is new to an area and selects a country to manufacture for surrounding market entries.
This strategy means that parts or components that were produced in other countries, are then assembled in the target country. With this approach companies benefit from the comparative advantages of each country. Other benefits are lower freight charges, government fees and sometimes-even customs duties. This strategy is widespread in the automobile and personal computer industries.
A strategic alliance defines a long-term relationship of two companies participating in a relevant business area. There are many different kinds of strategic alliances some of the most important ones will be explained briefly in the following.
Licensing: Licensing means that the company gives others the right to use its intellectual property. Intellectual property can be a patent, trademark, design, character or a symbol. This property can be used in association with a product or service over a certain period of time in a specific geographic area.
Joint Venture: A joint venture can be described as any relationship between two or more business entities, which combine some of their assets or efforts in order to create a new entity.
Management Contracting: Management contracting means that a company from outside of the foreign market provides the know-how to manage the company, while a local investor provides the capital for the enterprise.
Contract Manufacturing: Contract Manufacturing describes the process of outsourcing the manufacturing process to a foreign country. Many companies produce products or parts of their products in a foreign country, with lower wages. The factories are than not operated by the companies, in fact they are run by other companies.
3 International Product Policy
This chapter deals with the single aspects of an international product policy.
In order to provide a uniform understanding of the following terms the main expressions used in this chapter will be explained briefly in the following.
3.1.1 International Product Policy
Product policy in general deals with the presentation of a product, how the customer perceives the product and how long the influence of the product will last. Therefore international product policy means managing different products in different regions around the world.
A product is defined as a collection of physical, psychological and symbolic attributes intended to satisfy or to prove beneficial to the customer.
3.2 Product Planning and Development
Product planning and development includes four different aspects, which will be explained in the following sub-chapters:
1. New product development or addition
2. Changes in existing products
3. Finding new uses for existing products
4. Product elimination
3.2.1 New Product Development or Addition
“In new product development process a new product is viewed as a project that acquired knowledge gradually over time as an idea is transformed into a physical product.” The new product development process generally includes six stages:
1. Idea generation
2. Initial screening
3. Business analysis
4. Developing the product
5. Market testing
3.2.2 Changes in Existing Products - Product Variation
Changes in existing products can be made through product modification or variation. This means changing one or more characteristics of a product. The products can be altered in quality, aesthetics or function. One main reason for changing existing products is to extend the product life cycle and to increase the customer value.
3.2.3 New Uses for Existing Products
The best way to explain this stage is to give an example. A tractor that is marketed as a home garden tractor in an industrialized country can be used commercially in a country that is less developed where incomes are lower and farms are smaller. Finding new uses for existing products in foreign countries can sometimes be very difficult, due to the long distances between the foreign market and the product development department. It is however an important way of extending the product's life cycle.
3.2.4 Product Elimination
Product elimination is the final stage of every product life cycle and deals with how the company removes an existing product from the market. The main reason for eliminating products is to reduce inefficiencies and to focus on profitability. The considerations whether to eliminate a product or not are often the first decisions made when companies have to develop a turnaround marketing strategy.
3.3 Standardization or Customization
Whether to standardize or to customize a product is one of the key considerations of companies entering foreign markets. It is crucial to find the right balance if a company wants to be successful on the target market. In this context standardization or customization can only occur for the physical product core like the color, function or size.
3.3.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of Standardization
The global pressure for cost reduction is one of the main reasons for standardization. Companies offering one standardized product internationally need only make slight adaptations for foreign markets, which results in a faster recovery of investment. Another reason for standardization is that it allows companies to make use of the economy of scales. In addition to the financial advantages there are also nonfinancial benefits for companies offering standardized products. The time to market a standardized product is shorter due to only one development process. Despite the advantages of standardization there are also some trade offs. The company can lose market opportunities if the product cannot match the local requirements. This can be due to physical factors (climate, transport situation, literacy and technical skills of users), market factors (preferred package size, consumer taste) or legal factors (technical standards, patent laws).
3.3.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Customization
Generally the aim of product customization is to increase worldwide sales of a company's core product. The main reason for companies to adapt its products is to satisfy different customer tastes and needs in various international markets. Another factor for customization is the usage factor. Same products are often used differently across national borders. Honda motorcycles for example were unreliable in the US and often broke down, but there were no problems with the same model on the Japanese market. The reason for this was different user behavior. American riders are used to riding long distances while Japanese riders only travel short distances. For this reason certain products have to be adapted when the market demands a customized product.
3.4 International Product Life Cycle
The international product life cycle theory deals with the diffusion of a new product across national borders and is a valuable framework for marketing planning. In the international product life cycle theory a new product is introduced into a developed country. Companies now start selling the product abroad, in other developed countries, in order to exploit the technological break-through of the product. Soon other advanced countries start up their own manufacturing facilities, and after less developed countries have started doing the same, the efficiency advantaged shifts over to the less developed countries. Now the developed countries have to import the products from their previous customers.
The main focus of this theory is on the cost advantage for the manufacturing company. The combination of shorter product life cycles combined with higher expectations for new products has become a big issue for product managers across the globe. There are various reasons why product life cycles are becoming shorter in international markets. Innovation in telecommunication has made it possible to have up-to-date information about new products around the world. Therefore consumers around the world demand immediate access to newly introduced products. Technological progress across all industries is another reason for shortened product life cycles. Because of the various reasons mentioned before, it is more important than ever before to have the right market entry strategy for new product innovations.
4 How the International Product Policy influences the Market Entry Strategy
This final chapter provides a review of the previous chapters and shows the various influences of an international product policy on the market entry strategy.
4.1 Influence on the Timing of the Market Entry
The timing of the market entry is one of the first decisions a company has to make when entering a foreign market. Whether a company enters a market first, or decides to wait for other companies to innovate will have consequences for its future development of the market and the product. A very important question companies should ask themselves when planning and developing new products is, whether the market is ready for the product. Market testing and market research can easily answer this question. Sega failed testing the Sega Dreamcast on the market and pioneered a product that was ahead of its time. This resulted in the elimination of the Sega Dreamcast and in Sega leaving the console hardware market
Another factor tat can influence the market entry decision can be the existence of a standardized product. A company who wants to set its own standards in a global perspective may choose the pioneer strategy rather than the early follower or late follower strategy. When Microsoft introduced the Windows 1.0 operating system, it not only changed the way people think about personal computers, it also set the standards for other operating systems. Because Microsoft was the market leader and pioneer, Microsoft was able to set its own standards. Therefore competitors had a hard time competing with Microsoft due to the incompatibility with Microsoft's standards.
Generally the product policy's influence on the timing of the entry depends on whether the company's aim is to develop new products or whether the company focuses on different product modifications and new uses for existing products. A company that is continuously innovatios, has no other option than choosing the pioneer strategy in the long run, otherwise the development costs will not pay off.
4.2 Influence on the Sequencing of the Market Entry
The decision on the sequence of the entry is connected to and influenced by the international product policy and can lead to the failure or success of the product on the foreign market. Companies often use the waterfall strategy due to a shortage of resources. Sony used this approach to introduce the PlayStation 2. Sony was unable to produce the amount of consoles needed for a worldwide launch, because of the fact that consoles vary slightly across continents. This approach had to be changed by Sony however, after Microsoft introduced the next generation of video game consoles. Microsoft was able to market the Xbox360 using the sprinkler strategy. This was possible due to the standardization of the console and the customization of the power supply as a separate component of the product. Microsoft's move forced its competitors to use the sprinkler strategy for their following market entries in order to remain competitive.
Companies that want to extend their product's life cycle through the sequence of the entry have to select the waterfall or the wave strategy. A very good example for how to enter markets using this strategy in order to have an increased product life cycle is the Apple iPhone. Apple first introduced the iPhone on the North American market, knowing that there was enough market demand in the European and Asian countries. Apple managed to serve the home country but still kept the potential costumers interested in Europe and Asia. Today, after more than two years, the iPhone is sold in over 70 countries and it is still among the most popular mobile phones on the market. Other mobile phone manufacturers launching their products using the sprinkler strategy still have to face the issue of shortened product life cycles, as the average product life cycle of a mobile phone is below one year.
4.3 Influence on the Market Entry Modes
The selection of the right entry mode is a strategic decision and will have a long lasting influence on the company. For this reason the entry mode has to match the company's international product policy and product strategy. Companies that want to enter a foreign market with a highly customized product should therefore consider a non-export market entry mode. As consumer tastes vary across countries it is important to select an entry mode that makes it possible to meet the consumer's requirements in every target market. BMW never manufactured vehicles outside of Germany before 1990. Due to ferocious competition in the world markets BMW was forced to expand its manufacturing facilities. One reason why BMW chose to build up its own manufacturing facilities in the United States was because BMW needed to respond more quickly to market fluctuations and local requirements on the US market.
Companies that develop innovative and highly standardized products should generally use the exporting strategy as a market entry mode, as there is no need to focus on various consumer tastes in different target markets. However, the theory of the international product life cycle clearly exposes that exporting from the home country leads to a competitive disadvantage in later stages of the product life cycle. A concrete example is the dislocation of the Nokia manufacturing facility in Bochum to a manufacturing facility in Romania as mobile phones are approaching the next stages in the product life cycle. Therefore Nokia's competitors already dislocated their manufacturing facilities to eastern countries. Nokia faced a competitive disadvantage producing mobile phones in Germany and had to dislocate its manufacturing facilities to Romania. For this reason it is important to adopt the market entry strategy according to the product's life cycle.
The foreign market entry strategy plays an important part in the internationalization of companies around the world, as product life cycles are becoming shorter and competition increases. The selection of the right target market is the first issue companies have to tackle when they want to expand internationally and there are various causes influencing the market entry strategy. One of the main causes is the company's international product policy. In order to enter a foreign market companies have to ask themselves which time, sequence and mode of entry they want to choose as all these aspects have to match the overall product strategy.
The product planning and development strategy determines whether a company is forced to use the pioneer or the follower strategy. Companies with a focus on product planning and development have to select an adequate entry strategy. Entering only one country at a time with a new and innovative product can lead to companies entering other markets as pioneers. Therefore it is important to have selected the right timing strategy.
Another aspect that has to be considered is whether the company is planning and developing a standardized or a customized product. Companies that go for a standardized product can develop products more independently than companies with a customized product. Companies developing customized products for various target markets have to focus on local requirements more exclusively than others. The mode of entry is also important when developing customized products, as only non-export entry modes guarantee control over the market and the flexibility necessary for appropriate product variation and modification.
As mentioned above there are many different factors that influence the market entry strategy, and the international product policy and product strategy is only one of them. However, in order to be successful when entering foreign markets companies have to focus on the various ways in which the company's international product policy will influence their chances of a successful market entry.
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