Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Looking At The Global Marketing Environment


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The events of 11 September 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York, will be remembered for generations to come. The USA and its allies, in retaliation for 9/11, devastated Afghanistan because they believed that the Taliban was harbouring the terrorists responsible, and Iraq for possessing weapons of mass destruction. More than seven years since 9/11, the so-called ‘war against terror’ continues to dominate the American agenda and that of its allies. This war will last a long time. Tackling terrorists who want to continue their mission until victory or martyrdom is an awesome task. The cost in purely business terms was real and immediate. Like the Middle East oil crisis of the early 1970s, the effect on global business has been enormous. No one could have foreseen this event yet it changed the way countries and organizations trade internationally. The French poet Paul Valéry might have been forecasting for today’s multinational corporation when he muses that ‘the trouble of our times is that the future isn’t what it used to be’. The internet and new communications technologies are revolutionizing the way businesses are conducted. For instance, mobile technology is changing the way businesses interface with customers, and the way customers interface with one another. In China, home to the world’s largest mobile network, this is particularly true. ‘On New Year’s Day, we had about 5 billion SMS New Year’s greetings’, said the man who runs the network, Wang Jianzhou, Chairman and Chief   Executive, China  Mobile Communications Corporation (www.chinamobile.com). The hitherto economic might of the West is increasingly being challenged as many economies in other parts of the world are emerging as new champions. The world is currently undergoing a demographic shift that amounts to an earthquake for business. With much of the planet experiencing a youth bulge, rates of mortality and fertility are falling in the developed world, with average life expectancy projected to reach 100 by the end of the century. In Europe, talent is increasingly mobile and thus tough to retain: employees between the ages of 25 and 34 spend an average of just 2.9 years in a job. In Africa, a surplus of workers is driving immigration to the north (World Economic Forum, 2008). To survive and prosper in the rapidly evolving global marketplace, companies must win the war for talent, innovate rapidly, but also, where appropriate, collaborate effectively. Good corporate citizenship will also attract customers, especially if such citizenship underpins business models themselves. In short, worldwide markets reward swift and agile companies, and those that win the race for talent and customers must be responsive to both. To be truly responsive, corporations must be good as well as great. These developments have tremendous political, economic, social and technological implications on the global marketing environment. Essentially, they become the new market realities with which all marketers need to contend. Any global marketing strategy, that is—in the words of Peter Drucker (1999: 50)—’any commitment of present resources to future expectations’, has to start with taking stock of these changes. It would be impractical to list them all. The following changes are those which we believe present the most immediate and significant challenges for organizations operating in the global business environment.