International Marketing - Baby Care
Students should gain familiarity with the following elements of business information literacy and specific information resources.
- The relative advantages between purchased information sources and those freely available on the Internet.
- The ethical use of licensed content.
- The effect of a nation's size and political economy on the quantity and quality of information available for a market.
- Availability, currency, coverage, and cost of pre-packaged market research reports.
- How to apply indirectly relevant reports.
- A source for international market data and analysis.
Through brand extension a company can leverage the power of an existing brand when entering a new product category. Kimberly-Clark has expanded their HUGGIES® Little Swimmers® swim-diapers brand to the baby sun care category, marketing a variety of sun screens for babies. They want to extend this success to other baby care products (hair care, skin care, sun care, etc.) and they want to do it globally. They figure they may as well start at the top of the alphabet, so they've hired you to help them decide what the prospects are for the baby care markets in Argentina compared to Azerbaijan.
Note: This case uses Euromonitor's Global Market Information Database as the primary information source. Alternatives from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Marketline, Global Insight, and others may serve just as well. Or a piecemeal substitution could be used, with sources like the UNdata website for demographics (http://data.un.org/), and The U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library for market research reports (http://www.buyusainfo.net/adsearch.cfm?search_type=int&loadnav=no).
The arbitrary selection of two nations allows for more efficient exploration of international market research resources by narrowing the scenario's focus. The comparison also makes the problem more concrete and can be more plausibly addressed during a limited instruction session.
A preliminary discussion of the types of information students believe would be helpful in resolving this scenario will likely revolve around demographics, consumer behavior, market data, and competitive intelligence. At this point the librarian can clarify the areas that will be addressed during the case (the first three) and those that will not (competitive intelligence).
After obtaining a clearer picture of our information needs, I like to ask the students where they go when they need information. Common responses include the Internet, Google, or Wikipedia. This opens the door for a brief demonstration or discussion of the strengths and limitations of using the free Web for market research, in contrast to purchased or licensed resources. There is a wide variety of both free and paid resources relevant to this case, and the librarian cannot possibly cover them all. Instead, I prefer to focus in-depth on one, Euromonitor's Global Market Information Database (GMID) and provide a handout detailing others.
An obvious question when deciding whether to market baby care products in Argentina or Azerbaijan is which nation has more babies? After introducing students to the GMID interface, possibly preceded by a discussion of licensing restrictions and appropriate and ethical use of GMID content, the librarian can demonstrate the Future Demographics reports. The librarian can then ask the group whether Argentina or Azerbaijan exhibits more promising demographic trends. Students should have little difficulty in identifying Argentina as having a higher projected birth rate.
The librarian can now demonstrate the Consumer Lifestyle reports and allow the students time to explore these extensive reports for insights into consumer behavior that may be relevant to the case. Volunteers can report their discoveries and how they think that information is relevant to the case.
The librarian should now demonstrate how to search for statistics and reports about the baby care market in these nations. This may trigger a discussion of the language differences students might encounter when conducting international research. For instance, Euromonitor is a British company that uses the term "nappies" where Americans would use "diapers."
This search can also lead to a discussion about the differences in the amount of content that is available for larger nations like Argentina than there is for smaller nations like Azerbaijan. For a more valid or effective comparison it may be desirable to switch from Azerbaijan to a larger nation from the same region, such as the Ukraine.
In GMID the librarian can demonstrate how to manipulate the statistical displays, how to export data, and how to navigate reports. Students should then be given several minutes to explore GMID seeking information that will help them in deciding between the countries and identifying which segment of the baby care market (hair, skin, or sun care) holds most promise. Two or three students can share what they discover, which might include data like market sizes or it might include analysis, such as the opinion of Euromonitor's researchers that a low birth rate may not necessarily indicate low market potential in baby care since parents are more likely to lavish their resources on an only child.
The librarian should also note the company reports and the comments on current trends available in GMID, or point students toward other resources for international company reports or market news. While the case can only be addressed at the most superficial level during a library instruction session, students should understand that the purpose of the case was not to teach them how to conduct an analysis, but how to conduct the research that would provide them with the information they would need in order to perform a proper analysis. To this end, it is beneficial to review the principles of information literacy that have been introduced, both those specific to the context of this case or GMID, and those with broader implications.
Originally Submitted: March 6, 2009
- A copy of the handout created to accompany this case as conducted at Brigham Young University in February 2009 can be downloaded here.