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Product Adaptation

A product that is perfectly good for one market may have to be adapted for another. There can be many reasons for this. physical conditions may be different. Functional requ5rimenst may very from country to country. people in different places may use products differently or for different purposes. product adaptation is changing the product either through value addition or marking it functionally different. Selection of features it he key element in product adaptation. This calls for a review of environmental factors affecting an export item. Robinson has identified a number of factors, which require change in product design for selling abroad. Major design changes in product adaptation are as follows:

Factors of Design Changes

This includes size, capacity and volume. For instance the United States follows non-metric size but European Dimensions products are based on metric system. In such a situation, simple translation of non-metric size into metric will not suffice. Thus intending exporter has to change the product physically to required metric standard.

Climatic Conditions

Climatic Conditions also dictate product changes resulting in change of raw material. A leading manufacturer of industrial abrasives had to change the material for its supply to another country for reasons of different climate. A similar change was effected by a paint manufacturer for export to another country. Further, Sony’s music system operating in India has a dust protection mechanism.

Product Use

This relates to products use and its performance. Mixer grinders in USA have power rating ranging between one to two minutes because of minimal/simple use of this equipment. As against this, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, this appliance is used as a full fledged kitchen machine where it’s rating goes up to ½ hour or more.

Cultural Views

Products have to change with cultural values which are reflected in fashion, taste and preferences. For instance, red and white have happy connotation, whereas black and white is a sign of grief. Green is associated with illness in Malaysia. Brighter colors are liked in Africa. These colors are extremity relevant for fabrics and packaging. Mattel Toys of USA wanted to sell their Barble Doll in Japan. But the Japanese did not like the American favorite doll. Later the firm introduced a modified Barble – slightly oriental eyes and a more girlish figure.


Quality reflects end-issue values. If a nut or bolt is reckoned as a hardware item, its quality would be different when the same is used as an auto part.

Specific Requirements

At times, an exporter may be required to change the product to market a specific requirement. This happens in the case of US market, where an Italian firm adjusted the fermentation process of wine against an established French product.

Level of Sophistication

Design/functional use of items exported to different should match with the level of sophistication in target markets. Products designed in highly developed countries often exceed the required standards in developing countries. For instance Ray Ban glasses have been recently introduced in India. It will however take some time for the market to develop receptivity for it. Manufacturers in developing countries face the opposite challenge to upgrade the level of standard. Finally tastes, level of skill & technical development may be different and may dictate changes in product.


Product adaptation is also mused as a strategy to enter a new market, which is dominated by existing manufacturers. In such a situation some product differential will help the intending exporter to sell his product successfully in the target market.


Standardization is equally important in the planning of products for export. This is more relevant for consumer items. Major benefits fo this strategy include economies of large scale production R&D, and marketing. With international travel becoming very common, it is easier to win loyalty of customers though standardization both at home and overseas.

Life Cycle

Understanding of product life cycle is another element of export planning. longevity of product life is related to the level of economic development of a country. Compared to developing economies, product sold in developed countries has shorter life. This is attributed to greater competition in developed markets. A product has four stages in its life cycle. In the first stage a product is in the process of development and sales pick up gradually. Having established acceptability, the product registers rapid growth during the second stage. In the third stage, the product reaches maturity. The fourth witnesses a decline in the sales.


Branding is yet another aspect of product planning for exports. It is an identity or value addition given to a product. In a market driven economy, this recognition is built up through provision of quality product and adequate back-up service. This identity is rooted in a language which would evoke similar emotions/associations worlds wide.


Packaging is also important for product planning. A change in marketing environment requires a different package to ensure adequate protection and shelf life for a product. Deference in climatic condition also influences the packaging requirement.

Support Service

Support service is the last but crucial pint in product planning for exports. These involve two components – warranty and after-sales-service. The intending exporter must have a clear policy with regard to product warranty. Based on its corporate strategy the exporter should either declare that his domestic warranty is valid worldwide or specify a separate policy in this context for different countries. Adoption of Worldwide warranty with uniform performance standard may look simile but this may not work under different marketing conditions.

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