A multinational services company manages a limited product portfolio. Specialisation in a particular industry sector or value chain is inherent to a company and its market position. Product portfolio optimisation is a widely explored marketing strategy involving techniques that include product life cycle assessment, segmentation and niching, and analysis based on the famous BCG matrix.
Now, let’s suppose that after years of implementing a suitable strategic and product marketing policy, we have finally achieved a balanced end-user services portfolio. Suppose that both the scope and benefits of these services are well defined and integrated in our operations department. Does this mean that we are poised to launch our products on the international market? The answer that springs immediately to mind is that we must first adapt the portfolio to the needs of the country in question. But what if, over and above adapting the portfolio to different consumer profiles in each country, the very essence of the service offered varies from one market to the next?
As far as end-user assistance services are concerned, if we divide the world into the five standard regions for multinational companies, i.e., North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific, we find that the very concept of assistance services is unique to each region and differs from other regions. Not only that, but consumer expectations and service concepts also vary from one country to another within the same region! It is easy enough to understand that what a Korean consumer expects from a roadside assistance service differs from the expectations of an Arab consumer, but these differences take on a whole new dimension when we learn that the concept of home assistance, for example, varies greatly between Mexico and Chile. Some countries understand assistance services as being a feature of wide-ranging insurance policies, while in other, at times neighbouring, countries these are perceived only as limited services that are extremely costly to the end client.
With regard to roadside, home, travel or medical assistance, each country is different; each market expects different scope and benefits, and it has its unique definition of these services.
Under these circumstances, the only possible marketing strategy is to explore the consumer insights peculiar to each country or region: to gain in-depth knowledge of their family life, how they use transport and why they travel abroad, what health services they have available in their region, etc. This information must be based on more than just thorough market research. What we need is to “interiorise” the market and the lives of consumers within the marketing structure of multinational assistance services companies.
Gregorio Santos is Managing Director for Business Development at MAPFRE ASISTENCIA.
gyro is a global B2B agency.