The Nutty Story of Nutella: Standardisation Backfires

International Marketing tips

Nutella has made a recent buzz, telling people how to correctly pronounce the brand name on their FAQ page. NEW-tell-uh not NUT-ella? (http://www.nutellausa.com/faqs.htm) Confused? Let’s take a step back and understand where this brand is coming from. We all want to be called by our birth name and identify with it. Companies that have either gone global or are in the process of doing so feel the same way. By telling people how to correctly pronounce Nutella the famous Italian brand is certainly making a ‘faux-pas’ with their international marketing strategy.

This step by Nutella was trending on social media and resurfaced the debate between brand standardisation versus adaptation in international marketing strategy. By emphasising on pronunciation, Nutella is making an attempt at standardising their brand name internationally. Companies that standardise branding are usually firms with a strong global identity such as Coca Cola, Apple or McDonalds. Even in those cases their international marketing strategy is not fully standardised and includes a bit of adaptation. That’s why Coca Cola is called Kekoukele or “tasty fun” in China and Mc Donalds is Maca in Australia. These brands have made a conscious decision to keep an element of freshness and uniqueness in new markets. (source)

The truth is no one likes to be corrected. This holds true in Nutella’s case, as well. In order to avoid a condescending undertone Nutella should just let people enjoy their hazelnut spread and the pronunciation should not overshadow their product and overall brand experience. After all, the last thing a company wants to do is to offend its customers. (http://www.campaignasia.com/BlogEntry/359532,Cultural+blunders+Brands+gone+wrong.aspx)

The golden rule moving forward is that brands can

  • Standardise and be accepting of different pronunciations or
  • Adapt with a more local name

Though the intention of this entire episode was not to create a stir, the good news for Nutella is that they managed to create a buzz nonetheless. Historically, many brands have redeemed themselves after unintended backlash at international markets. (source) A successful international marketing strategy needs to be built based on the culture and understanding of new markets. So, feel free to call it “Nuttie,” “Oz spread” or “Nootella.” With 70% of the world’s GDP growth taking place in emerging markets from 2010-2013, effective international marketing strategy is the key to surviving in the global business market today. (source) Even for established firms, international marketing can be a tricky task, so think smart and get expert assistance to deal with customers overseas.

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