Delineating design factors that influence the global product launch process

Margaret Bruce, Lucy Daly, Kenneth B. Kahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Preparing for and managing the global product launch process offers unique challenges as each targeted country can pose unique differences across the design categories of channel parameters, country mores, language and colloquialisms, and technology infrastructure. Though not an exhaustive list, these have a predominant influence on the global product launch process on a per-global-region basis. Using a case-study methodology, this article draws on the global product launch experiences of two firms, showing that such influences preclude use of a mass-marketing, standardization approach. Though it appears that certain elements of global product launch may be standardized for purposes of efficiencies, a global product launch appears to require at least some degree of customization. Such thinking parallels a design perspective, which mandates a tailoring of product and marketing mix to encourage early acceptance within the intended global market. To suggest when customization should be employed, four design categories of channel parameters - country mores, language and colloquialisms, and technology infrastructure - appear to have strong propensity to dictate customized design requirements for a worldwide launch, where greater differences across these design categories would mandate more customization toward each respective global region. Post hoc comments by managers in the focal case studies support this and further delineate that these four design factors necessitate keen consideration in the course of planning and enacting activities during the global product launch process. The two cases studies especially show that customized design decisions will likely pertain to launch schedule due to local retailers' calendars, product aesthetics due to local consumer preferences, point-of-sale and other marketing communications due to language requirements, and technology enhancements in light of local market acceptability and both social and regulatory expectations. Managers involved in planning a global product launch should therefore heed channel owners - brand owners, retailers, and distributors - so that they give preference to, promote, and sell the respective company's product relative to competitors' products. To assist toward securing such preference status, channel owners should have a role in advising the timing of launch and design considerations (e.g., color and form). Logistic issues, such as delivery and after-sales support via this channel, are keen considerations as well. Logistics has to be thought through to ensure that demand can be met across all regions for a new product. And with the growing prevalence of Internet worldwide, managers must pay keen attention to cultural references and language used on any Internet site to ensure that the product is properly represented and promoted during its global launch. The process of a global product launch is therefore more than the company's ability to gain access to a particular market; it is the company's ability to understand key design issues per each global region respectively and to respond to pressing global region differences by customizing the total product offering to meet the needs of that global region. © 2007 Product Development & Management Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-470
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


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