In this type of situation, the social, cultural, and religious challenges are magnified, and what sells well here, might not work near as well in another country. Two extremely prominent US companies have faced these challenges abroad. First of all, Apple, the makers of the Iphone, faced many challenges in Japan. Secondly, the Walt Disney Company learned quite a few lessons during the development of Hong Kong Disneyland. This paper will analyze the challenges of Apple and Walt Disney when they expanded to these countries. Apple Apple Computer, Inc is located in Cupertino, California.
The company was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. From 1976 until today, Apple has been a company synonymous with innovation (apple-history, Jan ) . Apple is largely responsible for the growth of the personal computer, and the Ipod and Iphone are now staples in America and almost a part of our culture. In 2010, Apple’s sales topped 65 billion dollars, and Apple is viewed by many as the most successful company in the world (apple-history, Jan ) . When Apple launched the Iphone 3G, the launch was worldwide, and sales were brisk. The entire world was stricken with the Iphone bug.
The Ipod was already a staple around the globe, and an Ipod that could also be used as a phone was just what everyone was asking for. There was, however, one country that Apple really wanted to conquer. Apple joined with Softbank Corp. in Japan to market the Iphone 3G to the Japanese populous (Kane, Sept) . Softcorp was the third largest mobile provider in Japan, and the Ipod and Apple Computers were extremely popular in Japan, so Apple predicted incredibly brisk sales in the technology-savvy country (Kane, Sept) . On the first day the Iphone was offered, sales were indeed quick.
Many locations sold out nearly immediately. After the quick opening day sales, something Apple and Softcorp did not prepare for happened. The sales slowed down to a crawl, with sales reaching less than a third of what was predicted by analysts (Kane, Sept) . There were a few reasons for the decline. First of all, Apple failed to realize that there were already 10 domestic cellular phone manufacturer’s fighting for the market share in Japan. Apple also failed to realize that the new, groundbreaking Iphone was neither new or groundbreaking in Japan.
The Iphone was largely successful abroad because of the 3G access it boasted, but in Japan, almost everyone phone was 3G (Kane, Sept) . In addition, the highly technological Iphone was not really anything new for the Japanese. In actuality, in many ways it was viewed as a step backward to these consumers. Many cell-phone staples for Japanese customers was not present on the Iphone (Kane, Sept). For example, Japanese residents like to add cartoonish characters to their emails. The Iphone did not have this option (Kane, Sept) . Also, Japanese consumers viewed the Iphone as very expensive.
Essentially, Apple introduced a product that was inferior to the competitor’s offerings at a higher price point. Common knowledge says this is a no-win situation. To add fuel to the fire, the one plus that the Iphone boasted in Japan, the App Store, did not take hold either (Kane, Sept). Japanese consumers are very leary of allowing their personal information to be added to their cell phones, and the App Store cannot work without a credit card stored (Kane, Sept). The Iphone was not a failure in Japan, but it was not nearly as successful as Apple assumed it would be. Hong Kong Disneyland
The Disney Corporation is thought of as one of the most wholesome and magical companies in America and around the globe. Children of all ages wait with bated breath for new movie offerings by the Disney Corporation. We have Disney Stores in almost every mall in America, and most cable companies offer at least three channels devoted to Disney characters. Most children, and many adults dream of and plan vacations to Disney World, and some families make the trek to the theme park yearly. In addition, many couples plan their weddings at Walt Disney World, and the brides and grooms feel like Cinderella and Prince Charming on this magical day.
We all know Disneyworld is a magical place, a place where a kid can be a kid, dreams come true, and we can let loose. Of course, nearly every company has had to deal with some sort of controversy, and The Disney Corporation is not immune to public scrutiny either. In 2005, The Disney Corporation opened a park in China, Hong Kong Disneyland (Bradsher, June) . The crux of the issue at Hong Kong Disneyland was a popular Chinese dish that Disneyland offered at wedding banquets, Shark Fin Soup (Bradsher, June) . Shark Fin soup is a traditional meal at Chinese weddings.
In fact, Chinese connoisseurs enjoy many meals that cause a ton of angst around the world. Often restaurants in China serve Leopard, Penguin, exotic snakes, Anteaters, and many other rare species (Bradsher, June). None of these dishes are as popular in China as Shark Fin Soup. The Disney Corporation decided to offer Shark Fin Soup as an option at wedding parties in fear that if the dish was not offered, weddings would not be planned at Hong Kong Disneyland (Bradsher, June). In fact, the outrage about the dish did not come from China at all.
Most of the protesting over the dish happened in America and Europe, with certain groups wearing t-shirts with Mickey and Donald hovering over sharks without fins, and children in schools outwardly protesting (Bradsher, June). Disney officials did keep Shark Fin Soup on the menu at wedding parties, but every guest that requested a bowl of soup was also handed a pamphlet that explained the declining numbers of sharks in the wild (Bradsher, June). Comparisons Apple and The Disney Corporation both experienced challenges they did not foresee when they ventured into foreign grounds.
In fact, marketing abroad was not new to either of these companies, but both of these particular situations were very difficult for these companies for very different reasons. Apple had a real problem marketing in Japan because the product offered, the Iphone 3G, was more expensive than other offerings and offered less than the competitors.
The Disney Corporation did not have an issue marketing in Hong Kong, and the park was wildly popular, like the parks are in other parts of the world. The problem Disney faced was that he cultures of China, which the company tried to be sensitive to, cause ire around the rest of the globe. The problems these two companies dealt with were very different, but the root of the issue was the same. It is very difficult for a company to make everything work for everyone. Conclusion Apple and The Disney Corporation are two of the most successful companies in America and around the world. Even though these two companies share a level of success that 99 percent of the corporations in America can only dream of, they still have their issues. Marketing is extremely difficult, even in one country.
Marketers have to deal with different economic classes, social differences, cultural differences, and religious differences. When a company decides to go global, everything that a marketer deals with is magnified ten-fold. The economic differences can be much larger, the social differences can become a river, the cultural differences a lake, and the religious differences an ocean. The cases of The Disney Corporation in China and Apple in Japan prove that no company is immune to problems and strife, and any new marketing venture requires a great deal of research and trial and error.
These two companies were large and successful enough to sustain these blows, but the issues could have been detrimental to smaller firms.