What is International Marketing?

What is International Marketing?

Introduction to International Marketing

International marketing is simply the application of marketing principles to more than one country. However, there is a crossover between what is commonly expressed as international marketing and global marketing, which is a similar term. For the purposes of this lesson on international marketing and those that follow it, international marketing and global marketing are interchangeable.

Note: Keegan’s definition is typical of those that see international marketing a one stage of an internationalisation process.

What is Global Marketing?

“Global marketing refers to marketing activities coordinated and integrated across multiple country markets.”

Johansson (2000)

Note: Jonny K. Johansson defines global marketing as a bigger brother to international marketing i.e. more of an extension.

". . . The result is a global approach to international marketing. Rather than focusing on country markets, that is, the differences due to the physical location of customers groups, managers concentrate on product markets, that is, groups of customers seeking shared benefits or to be served with the same technology, emphasizing their similarities regardless of geographic areas in which they are located. ”

Muhlbacher, Helmuth, and Dahringer (2006)

Note: Muhlbacher et al delineate international marketing (adapted) and global marketing (standardised).

"Global/transnational marketing focuses upon leveraging a company’s assets, experience and products globally and upon adapting to what is truly unique and different in each country. ”

Keegan (2002)

Note: Keegan takes a strategic, corporate overview to define the transnational nature of global marketing.

So, as with many other elements of marketing, there is no single definition of international marketing, and there could be some confusion about where international marketing begins and global marketing ends. These lessons will assume that both terms are interchangeable, and will define international marketing as follows:

International marketing is simply the application of marketing principles to more than one country.


Doole, I. and Lowe, R. (2001), International Marketing Strategy – Analysis, Development and Implementation, Thomson Learning, 3rd Ed.

Johansson, J.K. (2000), Global Marketing – Foreign Entry, Local Marketing, and Global Management, Johansson, International Edition.

Cateora, P.R., and Ghauri, P.N. (1999), International Marketing, McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, European Edition.

Muhlbacher, H., Helmuth, L. and Dahringer, L. (2006), International Marketing – A Global Perspective, Thomson, 3rd Ed.

Keegan, W.J., (2002), Global Marketing Management, Prentice Hall, 7th Ed.

The intersection is the result of the process of internationalisation. Many American and European authors see international marketing as a simple extension of exporting, whereby the marketing mix is simply adapted in some way to take into account differences in consumers and segments. It then follows that global marketing takes a more standardised approach to world markets and focuses upon sameness, in other words the similarities in consumers and segments. So let’s take a look at some generally accepted definitions.

What is International Marketing?

"At its simplest level, international marketing involves the firm in making one or more marketing mix decisions across national boundaries. At its most complex level, it involves the firm in establishing manufacturing facilities overseas and coordinating marketing strategies across the globe.”

Doole and Lowe (2001).

Note: Doole and Lowe differentiate between international marketing (simple mix changes) and global marketing (more complex and extensive).

"International Marketing is the performance of business activities that direct the flow of a company’s goods and services to consumers or users in more than one nation for a profit. ”

Cateora and Ghauri (1999)

Note: Cateora and Ghauri consider international marketing in the absence of global marketing.

"International marketing is the application of marketing orientation and marketing capabilities to international business. ”

Muhlbacher, Helmuth, and Dahringer (2006)

Note: Muhlbacher et al consider international marketing in relation to marketing orientation and competences (see also Global Marketing).

"The international market goes beyond the export marketer and becomes more involved in the marketing environment in the countries in which it is doing business. ”

Keegan (2002)