Product adaptation is the product modification process of an existing product so that it is made suitable for various markets and customers. With the right adaptation strategy, companies are able to export the products to the markets by ensuring that they are able to meet the regulatory and cultural demands.
Adaptation is particularly essential for certain companies that have the main to introduce newer products but lack the resources and funds required for developing new items completely. There are 4 important factors that drive the process of product adaptation and these are market development, culture, laws, and competition.
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What is Product Adaptation?
Product adaptation is the process of making changes to an existing product in a way that the product meets local cultural norms and fulfills the customer needs of a new market. It is an integral process of international marketing strategies in which a few modifications and changes are done to existing products for catering to new target markets, customer preferences, foreign laws, local needs, government regulations, cultural considerations, etc.
For a company, it is extremely important to ensure that the products that they create are able to resonate with the target audience of the host country. The process of product adaptation ensures proper modification of any product to suit the demands of the markets and customers. A business could modify some of the features of an existing product or use it for the creation of another product that would have the former one as a base.
When brands adapt products as per the new markets, it is termed product adaptation. It is any kind of modification that takes place in a company product so that the product might suit the requirements of the customers in the area. Let us provide you with an example right here.
Say that you have been traveling to Britain from the United States. You will notice that an American company car in Britain will have the steering wheel on the car’s wrong side. This is due to the process of product adaptation where the product feature (the steering wheel of the car) is modified to suit the traffic laws of Britain. This process of product adaptation is mostly opted by companies working in global markets and wanting to comply with the cultural and regulatory needs of the foreign markets. In this process, the company has to make proper adjustments to the product in order to put forth a more marketable image for it in the foreign markets.
It is essential for a company to conduct proper market research in order to comprehend and analyze the requirements of the target audience. Surveys and studies are the most common forms of research. Also, customer insights and analyzing different trends can provide conclusive results. Some factors responsible for the process of product adaptation are climate, cultural factors, customer’s purchasing power, preferences of the customer, capita income, restrictions, regulatory requirements, tax laws, safety, and quality standards, etc
Why Is Product Adaptation Important?
The manufacturing of a product takes place to offer a benefit to both the manufacturer and the customer. However, in different parts of the world, a single product can have different types due to the difference in perception of people.
While the main product remains exactly the same, there are slight modifications made to the product so that it can reach a greater customer base. This process of adapting the production according to the customer requirements is product adaptation. Sometimes, the products could be internal or sometimes they can be derived from the competitor.
Product adaptation is simply a strategy that enables the product to gain new modifications, making it completely suitable for a group of people belonging to a certain area. With product adaptation, the products can be modified according to the beliefs of the customers, and hence will be more powerful and popular in the market.
Types of Product Adaptation
When attempting to reach different markets, companies often indulge in these important types and processes of product adaptation. There are several different types of product adaptation that companies can perform when trying to reach new markets:
a. Tangible Adaptation
This is a process that involves making changes to the product’s physical aspects. This particular product adaptation type might be appealing to the preferences of the customers. Here is an example. Most fast-food companies in America offer a variety of food items in the foreign locations that they have. These additional food items are according to the cuisine that is mostly preferred in that foreign location. Also, there is a change in the ingredients as well. So, rather than having major changes in the main product, tangible adaptation focuses on changing some physical features such as packaging and materials. This way, the product retains its qualities and also gains the preference of the customers.
b. Intangible Adaptation
In this type, the non-physical aspects are changed in the product. Some of these aspects include the product’s positioning or the name. Here is another example. A company might have the product change its name because it might translate to something not appropriate in a particular region. This will be to ensure that the product remains appealing to the customers in that region. Changing the position would be creating a change in the brand message and the value that it shares according to the needs of the customers.
c. Promotional adaptation
In the case of a promotional adaptation, the company’s method of promoting a particular product in the foreign markets will encounter a change. With proper research about the foreign market, along with some strategizing, the brand promotion can be changed and it is a really effective method of appealing to the target market. For instance, in some areas, billboards tend to perform well as advertising agents while in other cases, social media ads prove to be more beneficial for the same product.
d. Price adaptation
As the name suggests, the process of making changes to the price of any product in different foreign markets would be defined as price adaptation. In this particular process, the company is expected to change the size of the product or the quality in order to accommodate the price change. This type of product adaptation takes place when the consumers aren’t willing to pay an elevated amount in the foreign markets.
Elements of A Product Adaptation Strategy
Mentioned below are the major factors that are responsible for driving a product adaptation strategy:
Every single country, city, or state has a different culture binding the people. Products in those particular regions need to be modified according to the culture or religion that is followed there.
The policies and laws in any particular region of the world will also dictate the modification of the product.
c. Market Need
In certain cases, it is important to have a product altered to ensure that an entire market is targeted on the basis of the demands that they have. A product needs to have a plethora of features and differentiation in order to appeal to a market that is highly developed.
In certain cases, the strategy of product adaptation takes place due to the creation of a new and more improved segment by the competitors.
e. Customer research
The entire process of product adaptation rests majorly on customer research. During the process of adapting the product, a company might contact different customers in order to get an insight into the needs that they have.
f. Export Research
Companies also tend to assess and research the impacts that the exporting processes might have on the business. They need to determine the costs and time associated with such processes of adaptation.
The company will determine whether it needs to make modifications to the marketing campaign on the basis of the appeal that the product has to the markets and the customers.
The company also has to conduct proper research on the pricing model of the product and whether it is suitable for the target market or not. If the price is too high, it can negatively impact sales.
i. Retail Options
For any company that is looking forward to targeting different foreign markets with a product, it is essential to have a look at the potential retailers that might be able to increase the sales of the product.
Product Adaptation vs Product Standardization
When it comes to the definition of product adaptation and product standardization, they have pretty similar points. After all, both these processes are incorporated into the business strategy to represent how the companies plan on producing and selling the goods in different markets. But there are some key differences as well which are pointed out below.
- Modification: The process of product adaptation enables the company to make changes and modifications to the features of the product so that it can be more appealing and popular in the eyes of the consumers that belong to a specific market. However, in the process of product standardization, there is a uniform process adopted by the company for various markets.
- Efficiency: It is important for a product to be uniform in the case of standardization but it makes the company more efficient in creating the product using the techniques of mass production. However, with product adaptation, the product doesn’t have to be uniform.
- Cost: If the product is uniform, there will be cost-efficient in the production process of the company since every single product is made using the same materials. Product adaptation, on the other hand, doesn’t guarantee cost-efficiency since the materials might be changed according to the demands of the foreign market.
- Choice: With product adaptation, the customers are provided with different choices and this is not the case in standardization. Providing more choices will ensure that the company is able to gather a diverse range of target audiences.
Examples of Product Adaptation
Here are some common examples of adaptation that you should pay heed to while understanding how it is used to promote an existing product to a different market-
a. Adaptation Strategy in Car Models
In different parts of the world, the models of various cars are altered and modified on the basis of the country’s preferences. This is due to the fact that the driving laws in different countries seem to differ as well. All vehicles in the countries such as France, the USA, Germany, etc. have a left-handed steering wheel while cars in other countries such as Australia and the UK tend to have right-handed steering wheels. However, the car model, as well as the brand of the car, tends to be the same in every single country.
b. Adaptation Strategy of Food Products
In some food companies, the process of product adaptation is practiced very commonly. This process is mostly seen in the fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Burger King along with many others. The food items in such fast-food chains are modified according to the taste preferences of people that belong to the country where the fast-food chain is. In some cases, the ingredients of the meals are also changed according to the cultural and religious beliefs of the customers.
Having a proper strategy for product adaptation will enable the companies to promote and sell their products all over the world. Companies can ensure that they are able to create and market their core products in the various markets of the world. For instance, Sony has managed to the product as well as market its high-definition products such as TVs and Video Games in different markets. The television, for example, has a proper remote control (the core product). However, the way this particular product tends to be marketed depends on the foreign markets and the preferences of the customers.
With the help of an adaptation strategy for the core product, the company will be able to ensure that the product is made available to people in different countries and regions. This will also help in the global expansion of the company since it will be able to target different countries as its audience. Not to mention that it can help in research as well as the development and marketing purposes of the product in the best way.
The process of product adaptation to suit the requirements of the market might involve making changes to the packaging as well as the name and presentation. This can also cause the product to be seen in a brand-new light by the people. This is something that could be entirely beneficial to the company. By creating a product that is suitable for the customers, the company will not only be providing benefits to the customers but will also be able to increase its sales and hence will be able to grow the business.
Now, taking everything into account, how effective do you consider product adaptation strategy for optimizing the market share of a product in a new market?
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