Market orientation is a fundamental philosophy of marketing. It is an organizational culture that puts customers’ interests first in order to develop a long-term profitable enterprise. In essence, market orientation symbolizes the market-driven firm that is willing to constantly update its strategies using signals from the marketplace. Thus, marketing managers take market cues from the expressed needs and wants of customers. Consequently, the dominant orientation is that of a firm reacting to forces in the marketplace in order to differentiate itself from its competitors. This reactive ‘‘outside-in’’ perspective is reflected in the typical marketing manager’s reliance on marketing intelligence, forecasting, and market research.
While not denying this traditional market orientation, we also believe that market- ing managers should adopt an ‘‘inside-out’’ perspective and capabilities to shape or drive markets. This aspect of the link between strategic planning and marketing implementation has not been sufficiently treated in existing textbooks. For example, recent trends in technology licensing indicate that it is increasingly used as a conscious, proactive component of a firm’s global product strategy. We believe that it is important for marketers to influence those actions of the firm that are some distance away from the customer in the value chain, because such actions have considerable influence on the size of the market and customer choice in intermediate and end product markets.
A book cannot be written devoid of its authors’ background, expertise, and experience. Our book represents an amalgam of our truly diverse background, expertise, and experiences across North and South America, Asia, and Western and Eastern Europe. Given our upbringing and work experience in Asia, Western Europe, and Latin America, as well as our educational background in the United States, we have been sensitive not only to cultural differences and diversities but also to similarities.
Realistically speaking, there are more similarities than differences across many countries. In many cases, most of us tend to focus too much on cultural differences rather than similarities; or else, completely ignore differences or similarities. If you look only at cultural differences, you will be led to believe that country markets are uniquely different, thus requiring marketing strategy adaptations. If, on the other hand, you do not care about, or care to know about, cultural differences, you may be extending a culture-blind, ethnocentric view of the world. Either way, you may not benefit from the economies of scale and scope accruing from exploiting cultural similarities—and differences.
Over the years, two fundamental counteracting forces have shaped the nature of marketing in the international arena. The same counteracting forces have been revisited by many authors in such terms as ‘‘standardization vs. adaptation’’ (1960s), ‘‘globalization vs. localization’’ (1970s), ‘‘global integration vs. local respon- siveness’’ (1980s), ‘‘scale vs. sensitivity’’ (1990s), and more recently—let us add our own—‘‘online scale vs. offline market sensitivity.’’ Terms have changed, but the quintessence of the strategic dilemma that multinational companies (MNCs) face today has not changed and will probably remain unchanged for years to come.