Product adaptation in processes of internationalization: Case of the slovak food-processing companies

  • Horská E
  • Ubreziova I
  • Kekäle T
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Abstract

Purpose – One of the key decisions in becoming international is the standardization versus adaptation of the products for foreign markets. Previous research has mostly seen these alternatives as polarized opposites, even if it seems that the practitioners must nearly always adopt a certain level of adaptation that is nevertheless clearly less than full adaptation. The aim of the paper is to connect the amount and types of changes required to the cultural distance. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was offered to 33 companies producing 107 Slovak food products being exported successfully; the amount of changes required for different markets were calculated and classified for each product. Supporting interviews to 15 companies were conducted. Findings – The results suggest that markets culturally more distant require a greater number of changes than the culturally more similar target countries. The increase is clear especially in amount of packaging size and style changes for the foreign market. Conversely, the markets culturally closer to the home market required relatively more frequent changes in the brand name. Research limitations/implications – The method chosen restricts the possibilities of statistical analysis to basic distribution data. The results are at this stage not conclusive; suggestions for further research are discussed at the end of the paper. Practical implications – The paper presents benchmarking possibilities for producers of similar products. Originality/value – The model states that the changes in products are due to two separate types of distance; logistics/handling-induced changes for geographical distance, information- status- and buying habit-induced changes for cultural distance. The paper discusses the actions of companies from observed practice rather than from theory; includes an original sample of 107 products.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Culture
  • Exports
  • Food industry
  • Globalization
  • Product adaptation
  • Slovakia

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Authors

  • Elena Horská

  • Iveta Ubreziova

  • Tauno Kekäle

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