European IT suppliers are seeing a strong shift to pan-European marketing of their products, according to new research from IDC. In a survey of marketing directors across the region, 88 per cent said they were influenced in their strategy by the European headquarters.
The key challenge in 1997 is to achieve brand consistency across many geographical areas and market sectors. For 54 per cent, this is achieved primarily through a single, headquarters-directed marketing and public relations strategy. Other methods - though these were all cited by less than 20 per cent of respondents - are to use a single agency across the continent, through a common product look and feel and, in six per cent of cases, through eliminating local input.
The influence of the European headquarters - which is very significant for 47 per cent of those questioned and has ?some influence? for 41 per cent - is primarily in central planning and marketing (37 per cent of cases). Other areas are provision of global feedback (20 per cent), to achieve a balance between different regions (18 per cent), allowing general exchange of ideas (18 per cent). Only eight per cent coordinate product design and development at European level and only six per cent run formal European councils of cross border teams.
Apart from Europeanisation, the main challenges identified by marketing directors for this year focus on distribution methods and branding. For global players, channels is the top issue, followed by market share, the impact of the Internet, keeping up to date with new technology and communicating a brand. For localised players, focusing on one or a few countries, the top concern is branding, followed by the Internet, keeping up to date, channels and clearer communication.
As far as the Internet is concerned, the companies interviewed expect to increase online sales from eight to 18 per cent of the total by 2000. However, despite the concerns listed above, what really ?keeps us up at night? is still financial pressure and budgets, with marketing abroad, branding and message consistency the least troubling subjects.
The most admired 11 brands for these marketing directors are Microsoft (cited by one third), followed by Intel, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Compaq and Netscape. The most admired personalities are Bill Gates, Andy Grove of Intel, IBM chief Lou Gerstner and Oracle?s Larry Ellison.
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