Some rather hilarious predicaments can evolve when we market American products overseas.  Some of the cultural norms and lifestyle practices we take for granted can be overlooked, sometimes to revenue’s harm.

Weber Brothers Metal Works produces about half of the charcoal grills used around the world.  Some of those grills go to Tuticorin, India.  Final assembly happens in Bangalore where they are sold via the Weber Experience Center.

Something else happens at the Weber Experience Center.  Shiva Kandaswamy provides training to his customers on how to use a grill.  Now here is where it becomes funny.  Kandaswamy admits to some major market limitations when it comes to selling grills in India (Bradley, Ryan. “Where Grills Are Born” Fortune 8/13/12, pp. 12–14):

“Indians are mostly vegetarian, don’t spend time outdoors, don’t have backyards, and men don’t cook.” (p. 14)

Wow!  That’s four strikes.  Hmm.  Sounds like a winning plan to me, eh?

On the brighter side, the market presents some positives.  Kandaswamy explains:

“We grill okra, eggplant, fish, pizza; we are opening another center in Delhi next year; we are not just selling a kettle—we are selling an experience.” (p. 14)

All humor aside, once again a marketing success, from what could have been a marketing disaster, reminds us the customer experience is king (“we are selling an experience”).  Anytime a business is able to get inside the head of the customer and vicariously assess that customer experience, then the stage is set for success.

Increasing numbers of companies are realizing this.  Unfortunately, too many companies are choosing to ignore it.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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