What Is International Marketing? A Comprehensive Guide

Updated 15 March 2023

Many companies want to expand into new markets to increase their customer base, grow their brand awareness and improve their sales. When a company plans to enter a market in another country, it may use international marketing to distribute and promote its products or services to new customers. If you want to work for global or multinational companies, it can be helpful to understand this type of marketing so you can use it effectively in your role.

In this article, we define international marketing, explain its features, outline its different types and provide several tips to help you understand this concept.

What is international marketing?

International marketing, also known as global marketing, is the process of distributing, promoting and advertising a company's products or services across national borders. It may involve marketing products in one or many foreign countries. Often, companies distributing their products in multiple countries create unique marketing plans for each location. This strategy allows marketers to identify and segment potential customers based on the unique culture of a specific country.

This type of marketing can have various advantages for companies seeking to diversify their customer base, including:

  • Increase sales: Many companies use global marketing strategies to reach a higher number of customers in different countries. A larger market can often help to increase sales and profitability.

  • Scale costs: Entering the global market can help companies reduce production costs by manufacturing their products in larger amounts. Scaling costs can help businesses establish competitive pricing strategies.

  • Expand market share: It is common for companies to engage in global marketing to build their customer base. By gaining new customers in other countries, they can expand their market share.

  • Increase brand awareness: Companies can use global marketing techniques to target a wider audience and inform new customers about their products and services. This type of marketing can help businesses increase their brand awareness.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide To The Importance Of Marketing

Features of global marketing

Global marketing has some distinct features that make it different from other types of marketing. These features include:

  • Scope: Typically, this type of marketing has a large scope encompassing various activities, which may include market research, product development, packaging and branding.

  • Market access: Global marketing typically provides access to a broad market in different countries, which each have their own products and traditions.

  • Research: Most global marketing strategies require long-term planning and extensive research to understand various factors in other countries, such as trading regulations and foreign markets.

  • Foreign exchange: Global marketing allows for the foreign exchange between companies and customers, which may involve different currencies, exchange rates and payment collection systems.

Types of global marketing

There are different types of global marketing companies can use to expand into a foreign country. Companies often refer to their goals when determining the type or marketing they want to pursue. Some common types of global marketing include:


This type of global marketing involves marketing products to potential customers in another country. A company exports products when it sends them to a foreign country for purchase. Some companies choose to engage in direct exporting, which means they sell their products directly to target customers. Others use indirect exporting methods, which typically involve using a third-party agency or distributing company to sell the company's goods. Many companies seeking to expand in foreign markets begin by exporting their products because this method involves a low risk and minimal impact on operations.

Related: Import Vs Export: What Are The Essential Differences?


Licensing is a type of global marketing that occurs when one company, known as the licensor, allows another company in a foreign country to use its intellectual property. This type of property is an intangible asset, such as copyrights, patents or trademarks. The company in the foreign market has a licence to use the property in exchange for payment, known as royalties. Typically, licensing is a short-term agreement between two companies. It can be beneficial for companies seeking to expand their brand awareness in a foreign market.


In global marketing, franchising refers to an agreement between a parent company and an individual or firm in another country. Under this agreement, the franchise owner can operate an establishment in the parent company's name and use its resources, such as branding. The franchise owner pays a fee to the parent company for these rights. Franchising is a common type of global marketing for service-based companies, such as hotels and restaurants. It can be a beneficial agreement for companies with a strong brand recognition in another country.

Related: What Is A Brand? (With Components, Benefits And Types)

Joint venture

A joint venture in global marketing involves a partnership between two companies located in different countries. Both companies contribute assets, such as products or intellectual property, and own part of the venture. They work together to be successful partners. A joint venture can be beneficial for companies wanting to expand into a foreign market because they share business risks with another enterprise.

Related: What Is A Strategic Alliance? (Plus Pros And Cons)

Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment is a type of global marketing that involves one company investing in a foreign company. It refers to different types of investments, such as building new facilities or purchasing stocks. Often, a company uses this type of global marketing to begin manufacturing its products in another country. It is typically a long-term investment in a foreign market. It can be a beneficial type of global marketing for companies that want to have a significant influence or ownership in business decisions.

Tips for global marketing

Here are some tips you can use to implement global marketing strategies across national borders:

Perform market research

Before deciding to expand in a foreign country, perform market research to determine the potential return on investment. In global marketing, market research often involves analysing the cultural differences in another country to evaluate the market opportunity. Some factors you may consider as you conduct this research include:

  • The foreign country's economy

  • Demographics of your target market

  • Competitors already operating in the foreign country

  • Foreign regulations, such as trade restrictions

  • Costs involved in expanding into the new market

Related: What Is A Target Market? (Definition, Importance And Tips)

Develop a buyer persona

Once you understand the foreign market you want to enter, you can develop a buyer persona to identify the potential customers you want to target in the new country. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your target audience. You can use this persona to develop effective marketing strategies based on the persona's likes, motivations or habits. Collect data and research potential customers in the foreign market to develop this persona. Some demographic factors you may consider while creating a buyer persona include:

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Profession

  • Education

  • Income

  • Hobbies or interests

Maximise your SEO strategy

When a company expands into another country, it is important to maximise your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy to connect with potential customers online. Some methods you can use to optimise your SEO strategy include:

  • Creating a new website: You can create a new version of the company's website to target customers in the new country. The new website may include a country-specific domain name and canonical links to prevent duplicate content.

  • Targeting new search engines: You can research commonly used search engines in the new country to adapt your SEO strategy. By targeting the most common search engines, you can help ensure your content reaches the widest possible audience.

  • Using the local language: You can optimise your SEO strategy by using the local language for search terms and keywords. By translating those words and phrases into the local language, you can improve the company's search rankings.

Related: What Is SEO? (Plus How To Use It In Marketing Campaigns)

Learn about cultural customs

It is important to learn about the cultural customs in a new country to help you develop targeted marketing content. These customs may include behaviours, beliefs, values, events or holidays. Research those cultural differences to help you learn more about the company's target audience and their preferences. This research can help you create targeted, appropriate and culturally sensitive marketing content to communicate effectively with potential customers.

Related: What Are Intercultural Skills? (Plus How To Improve Them)

Be adaptable

When you implement global marketing, be adaptable so you can adjust your strategies as needed. Review marketing data and key performance indicators to determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Identify areas where you can continue to improve. For example, customers in some countries may respond to social media marketing, while other audiences may prefer traditional media and advertising. Continue to adapt to ensure you are using optimal marketing strategies for your target audience.

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