Process and Strategy are Global, Implementation is Local

The Second Wave of Internationalisation in Field Marketing
Aside from the early historical seeds with sales agents or commercial representatives being the easiest option for generating distribution afar from the doorsteps, by the late 1990s, early 2000s full service Field Marketing agencies have been taking steps into internationalization either by defining rules for networking or by buying shares. In part this was driven by clients asking for identical services/service levels in neighbouring countries (countries belonging to the same regional cluster on the clients side), in other parts this was driven by Field Marketing agencies themselves in an euphoria to make the most of an European Community common market or by staking claims in newly emerging markets in Eastern Europe. 
Looking at service types, apart from merchandising, auditing was among the first activities to be more harmonized and outsourced on an international scale. Looking at sectors, IT and consumer electronic companies were pioneers in international harmonization, rather than food and beverage companies. For the simple reason: “We do not need to come in different varieties, we simply need to translate our user manual into many languages”, explains a white goods executive.
Apart from the major well-established full service Field Marketing players in Europe and long-term co-operations in special sectors like for example Airport Promotion Agencies  - the past two to three years have seen an increase in activities to start or re-boot alliances and co-operations among European Field Marketing agencies . In addition there is a development going on towards globalization, European based agencies focusing on other continents, or groups with a home-base on other continents stepping into Europe. 
The Second Wave
There are a couple of influences and reasons for this renewed wave of internationalisation on the side of Field Marketing agencies:
Digital and technologies are global: digital and technical developments are not limited to a place of production and do not require troublesome physical distribution efforts, they are available in online space
Consumers in their majority are mobile and global, meaning we have knowledge and awareness of products and services outside their immediate physical vicinity and we have access to this products or services easily by ordering online.
Retailers are operating internationally: if they don’t have physical presence, they ship; in case of physical presence the major chains work on having a multinational/global brand with streamlined processes, communication and shopper experience. And there need to be availability, activation and customer engagement.
Brand manufacturers are operating internationally/globally: there may be different colours or flavours or packaging sizes, or even different products, but manufacturers strive at one global brand experience. And regardless whether a product or service can be bought in manufacturer operated online- or flagship stores, or in classical retail, there need to be streamlined processes for availability, activation and customer engagement.
Procurement is global: today’s buyers regardless whether for raw materials, components, products or services source and buy international. Modern procurement is moving towards a vendor management and it is looking towards reducing complexity within their organisation, by minimizing the number of vendors.
Therefore it is a logical and even necessary development that Field Marketing agencies are heading into a renewed phase of building alliances, co-operations or mergers across countries, territories or even continents. 
What Field Marketing Agencies Think
This is also reflected in an online survey with 59 Field Marketing agencies from 28 countries in Europe. Aside from retail restrictions, international projects and the advantage to be part of international group/network are the topics viewed as being of most impact both on services (2,3) and budgets (1,9). With “Localists” – Field Marketing agencies operating local and not yet being part of an international group/network -, the impact on services ranks even higher than within European groups/networks (2,6 vs. 2,3), and is leading among the topics together with shopper marketing. An explanation for that is, those not belonging to an international network/group see the rise of demand from client side. 
With the impact seen in international projects, it does not come as a surprise, that 97% of the participants do see an advantage in being part of an international group/network, with 100% of the Localists saying so. An interesting aspect within the Localists is, they also do not only see a direct impact by participating in international pitches, or sharing development costs for tools,  but they – like the networkers – see advantages in the “soft” factors like knowhow transfer, best practice exchange, business development via new ideas and trends, plus reputation.    
Field Marketing - a Glocal business
Though we are part of a global economy, however there are local economies, there is local distribution, there are local legal frameworks and local cultures, and the globally connected consumer physically lives and interacts also in a local environment. This dichotomy of local vs. global needs to be bridged by all parties (retail, manufacturer, Field Marketing providers). Therefor all three need to manage complexity and find a beneficial and functioning mix between standards and diversity.  
This requires two things: an open/collaborative culture plus standardized, managed, reflexive processes.
A New Culture
A collaborative culture has its focus on sharing and transparency for everyone involved in a value web (Deloitte)/Future Value Network (CapGemini)/grid to work effectively. 
Process, quality levels and strategy are standardized, implementation and operations are localized.
Having always been an outsourced service that needed to adapt to different sectors and clients as well as offering a huge portfolio of solutions, Field Marketing agencies sometimes seem to be a bit further along in that journey, than some of their clients. 
While there have been and still are many opportunities on the tactical side of the business, especially concerning quick on-off cross country installation/merchandising activities, on the more strategical level, establishing long-term multi country harmonized programs, Field Marketing agencies experience that establishing the latter still remains a challenge for their clients.
A Bridge to Implementation
Many global players have room to improve upon  in an international/diverse management team, ideas (new products, new strategies) often are decided centrally without or little on-boarding of locals, while on the other hand budgets or budget responsibilities often sit with locals. 
This delta in on-boarding or minimizing local pains by also financially supporting a pilot, often leads to a slower, more costly route-to-market, and in a worst case scenario to  a complete fail in implementing anything new, and in any ways needs to be bridged by the Field Marketing agency.
Today in the age of the connected, knowledgeable and ever more empowered consumer, products, brands and services are no longer necessarily local/national but in principal globally accessible. And this gives a decisive push on clients’ sides, to increase their international harmonization efforts, sharing and applying cross-country best practice, re-defining processes and business models, adding efficiencies, searching and embedding international strategical and preferred suppliers.

You want more info on Field Marketing?

There are three free whitepapers for download, each dealing with a different aspect or topic and each can be read and used consecutively as well as stand-alone:

Impactful, Innovative & Interdisciplinary: Identifying Field Marketing defines Field Marketing as being about personal interaction, with a DNA consisting both of sales and marketing. These two strands of DNA are both reflected in the service range of the majority of Field Marketing agencies, as well as in modern day hybrid services delivered for example by “brand ambassadors”, providing Availability, Activation, Engagement and Implementation Insights to Field Marketing clients across all industry sectors, all sizes, locally and globally.

Influences, Interactions & Innovations: Framing Field Marketing Across Europe, is based on the results of an online survey with 59 Field Marketing agencies from 28 countries, and delivers insights into the capabilities and services within the frame of retailers’ and manufacturers’ pre-requisites, as well as an evaluation of the impact of current developments - retail restrictions, international projects, shopper marketing, online/mobile promotions, plus crowdsourcing and other trends - on budgets and services as seen by Field Marketing Agencies.

Click links to download and stay tuned to the upcoming whitepaper

September 12th, 2016:

Innovation Integration & Implementation: A Glimpse @ the Future of Field Marketing, is taking a glimpse at future needs and requirements in a shopper centric environment powered by digitalization and technology. Part III looks at Field Marketing as a Glocal Business, New Alliances and Strategic Partnerships, as well as Scaling Up plus Scaling Down of services.


written by Glaeser Kerstin (16 posts)

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