What Is Product Adaptation?

Updated March 23, 2017

A few companies have been able to get away with having set messages and products they can deliver all around the world. Other global businesses run the risk of their marketing message being misinterpreted. A corporation has to commission studies to understand how its products are being used in different regions of the world. From those findings, they can begin to adapt their products to new markets.

Marketing Strategy

As a marketing strategy, businesses will make changes to their products to make them better than their initial offerings or to compete with emerging products in the industry. Most often this strategy is used to make their products more marketable in cultures with different views and values. In the book, "International Marketing," business professors Michael R. Czinkota and Ilkka A. Ronkainen call this "europeanizing products."


Products and services are viewed differently in each culture. The values held by U.S. consumers will not be the same values held by consumers in France. The book, "A Basic Guide to Exporting," commissioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce, indicates that not only do cultural differences have to be taken into consideration but: "To enter a foreign market successfully, a U.S. company may have to modify its product to conform to geographic and climatic conditions, buyer preferences or standards of living."

European Union

The European Union has set standards for exports to ensure that products are safe for use for consumers, don't create any health risks and comply with European technical standards. Czinkota and Ronkainen write that any products not regulated in Europe must meet the minimum safety and health requirements of their home countries. If these safety requirements are sufficient to meet the standards of any one member country of the EU, then the products can be exported to all member countries.


To export goods to a foreign market, the expense to adapt the product requires a long-term commitment to the foreign region in order to be profitable. It's not always a guarantee that making the cultural adjustments will translate the way that the corporation intended. This could result in a huge financial loss.


Small adjustments can bring new life to a product that's move to a new market when it has lost favour in one market. The International Trade Centre reports that a gadget for washing clothes by hand lost popularity in the United Kingdom in 1960s, due to the increased use of washing machines. That same product was adjusted and sold to women in South America. It made millions because women in rural areas of that continent still were washing by hand.

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About the Author

Sam Williams has been a marketing specialist and ad writer since 1995. He has been published in magazines such as "Reaching Out" and "Spa Search." He served in various sales and marketing positions with major corporations such as American Express, Home Depot and Wells Fargo. Williams studied English at Morehouse College.