Transnational Marketing and
Faculty of Business and Management
Regent’s Centre for Transnational Studies
Regent’s University London
ISSN 2191-5482 ISSN 2191-5490 (electronic)
ISBN 978-3-642-36774-8 ISBN 978-3-642-36775-5 (eBook)
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Library of Congress Control Number: 2013938742
ÓThe Author(s) 2013
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Dedicated to Dr. Joanne Stansﬁeld
The ways in which mobility and movement play a role in marketing and
international business and management are of interest in an increasingly fast
moving and interconnected world. An ever growing number of people are pursuing
transnational lives along with increasing connectivity beyond national borders.
Similarly, more and more ﬁrms are doing business crossing and beyond national
borders. Hence, Transnational Marketing and Transnational Consumers are
becoming increasingly common in today’s globalising and fast-moving world of
business. This book is offering a fresh perspective focusing on the transnational
character of organisations and ﬁrms, while underlining the importance of the
transnationality of marketing strategies for success. At the same time, it introduces
the novel concept of ‘transnational consumers’ and ‘transnational mobile
consumers’ which takes into account the increasing human mobility and its
implications for marketing success. This book gives ﬂesh to the ever popular
shorthand ‘‘glocal’’ referring to strategies thinking globally but acting locally. This
is the reality of current business environment where the norm is fast mobility of
goods, services, ﬁnance and consumers.
Wider marketing literature has so far simply name dropped but never attempted to
deﬁne what ‘‘transnational marketing’’ is. Thus, this business brief is a pioneering
attempt in clarifying the concepts and understanding this increasingly important
phenomenon. The book offers clear and crisp deﬁnitions of what is global, interna-
tional, multinational and transnational. It deﬁnes Transnational Marketing as
understanding and addressing customer needs, wants and desires in their own
country of residence and beyond and in borderless cultural contexts with the help of
synergies emerging across national boundaries and transfer of expertise and
advantages between markets where the organization operates transnationally with a
transnational mentality supported by transnational organization structures and
without compromising the sustainability of any target markets and resource envi-
ronment offering satisfactory exchanges between the parties involved. It explains
with examples and illustrations the key features of a transnational marketing strategy
which is a recipe for success for today’s global organisations, large and small alike.
Key terminology are also highlighted and summarised in a glossary. In this book,
mobility and movement are introduced into marketing thinking in an ever more
mobile world. A truly business brief which offers cutting edge thinking in a concise
I would like to thank many people who made this book possible and inspired and
supported me throughout. It includes tens of postgraduate students I did teach at
European Business School, Regent’s University London and particularly Martina
Drennow, Evinc Dogan and Prashanth Mahagaonkar, as well as Nikolaus Curtius,
Ivelina Georgieva, Cagri Haksoz, Svend Hollensen, Veerapa Jiravong, Monika
Koller, Krzyztof Kubacki, Richard Mannix, Simon O’Leary, Maktoba Omar, Assia
Rolls and Ebru Sucak. I also thank the editors and production team at Springer.
London, UK Ibrahim Sirkeci
1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy ..... 1
1.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.2 Transnationalisation in a Global Era . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.3 Transnationality of Organisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
1.4 Transnational Marketing and Transnational
Marketing Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
2 Transnationals: Transnational Consumers and Transnational
Mobile Consumers .................................... 25
2.1 Connectedness and the Consumer E-Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
2.2 Introducing Mobility and Movement
as Segmentation Variables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
2.3 Early Scholarship on Mobiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
3 Mobility and the Transnationals .......................... 35
3.1 Mobile Population is Larger Than Migrant Population . . . . . . . . 37
3.2 Sub-groups Within Transnational Mobiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
3.2.1 Transnational Professionals and High
Skilled Migrants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
3.2.2 Transnational Entrepreneurs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
3.2.3 Wealthy Mobiles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
3.2.4 Tourists and Visitors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
3.2.5 Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
3.2.6 Immigrants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
3.3 Segmentation for Transnationals and Mobiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
4 Targeting and Reaching Transnationals
and Transnational Mobiles .............................. 59
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
EPRG Ethnocentric, Polycentric, Regiocentric, Geocentric
EU European Union
FDI Foreign Direct Investment
GDP Gross Domestic Product
H&M Hennes and Mauritz
MNC Multinational Corporation
MEP Member of European Parliament
MNE Multinational Enterprise
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NGO Non-governmental Organisation
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
SBU Strategic Business Unit
TNC Transnational Corporation
TNI Transnationality Index
UN United Nations
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund
WHM Working Holiday Maker
WIPS World Investment Prospects Survey
Transnationalisation and Transnational
Bartlett, Ghoshal, and Stonehouse are among the very few scholars who argued
over the years that transnational strategy is either superior to other strategies or it is
the ultimate level to reach for success. This is pretty much all one would ﬁnd in a
very few textbooks on international management. However, these accounts of
transnational marketing remains rather abstract and unsubstantiated while also
lacking theoretical depth. Perhaps the theoretical depth issue is common to all
management sub-disciplines. For example, Burton claimed that weakness of
marketing scholarship and theory is due to ‘‘a lack of theorists, lack of theory
courses, business school strategies and misguided perceptions of practitioner-ori-
ented research amongst other things’’ (Burton 2005). Nevertheless, here we are
trying to add another brick to marketing and management theory.
The world is in a constant change as are the organisations, the consumers and
the ways in which businesses are connected and managed. The two main drastic
changes we are concerned with here are, ﬁrst, the increasing mobility of goods,
ﬁnances and people and second, the enormous speed and variety available in
communication and transportation. This has resulted in a rapid globalisation.
Along with socio-economic growth registered in countries outside Western Europe
and North America, such as in China, Brazil, India, Russia, Turkey, South Africa,
Mexico and several others, we have witnessed relative improvements in living
conditions and prosperity across the world. Many organisations have set up
aggressive global strategies looking for wider coverage in world markets whilst
also relocating certain functions to countries where cost and logistic advantages
exist. Today’s ﬁrms and organisations are increasingly involved in transnational
businesses as such. The spread of global communication channels and ‘univer-
salist’ cultural inﬂuences helped catalyse this process to an extent. Hence stand-
ardised products and services became a priority. However soon it has become
apparent that local, national and regional differences in tastes, legal political
frameworks, customs, habits and behaviour were signiﬁcant. Thus organisations,
ﬁrms and practitioners faced new challenges which are yet to be fully addressed.
I. Sirkeci, Transnational Marketing and Transnational Consumers,
SpringerBriefs in Business, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-36775-5_1,
The Author(s) 2013
According to a Deloitte survey (Deloitte 2012), a majority of managers agree
that current issues revolve around globalisation and geographical markets and,
even more importantly, see global human mobility as a cure to the strategic
challenges while only a small percentage (between 12 and 28 %) utilise global
mobility to address these challenges. However, mobility of staff generally is not
aligned with strategic business objectives, where it can make a real impact. Hence,
within a transnational organisational structure, the mobility of staff is crucial for
development of synergies and to enhance the national responsiveness in interna-
tional marketing strategies through ﬁrst-hand knowledge and experience.
At one level, intuitively many organisations and some scholars realised these
challenges and came up with a combo term: ‘Glocal’ which refers to the need for
globalisation on the one hand and localisation, adaptation and customisation on the
other. The term’s initial use in English goes back to the 1980s (see Simon-Miller
1986). However, this idea is not yet mature enough to result in a scholarly model
in management and marketing.
Outside business and management, in other disciplines, transnationalism as an
approach has been rather more developed. Therefore, we are indebted to those
researchers and scholars in developing a transnational marketing concept and
model. For example, indirectly related to business and management, in legal
studies, the concept of transnational is not new. Hall and Biersteker uses the
concept of ‘‘transnational private authority’’ referring to transnational religious
movements, maﬁas and mercenaries (2002, p. 7). Apparently, such transnational
authority is widely exercised by two types of coordination service ﬁrms;
accounting ﬁrms and credit rating agencies
(Nolke and Perry 2007, p. 124).
It is also argued that transnationalism has been in existence in one way or
another for over a century at least (Foner 1997). The key feature of the transna-
tional perspective is the recognition of the interaction between the global and the
local as well as the compromise due to the continuing power of nation states that
moderates transnational movement of things, ﬁnances, ideas, and people. Trans-
national as an adjective was ﬁrst used in 1921 and deﬁned as ‘‘extending or going
beyond national borders’’ according to Webster’s Dictionary (1988, p. 1254).
In deﬁning Transnationalism, Steven Vertovec states that it ‘‘broadly refers to
multiple ties and interactions linking people or institutions across the borders of
nation-states. Today myriad systems of relationship, exchange and mobility
function intensively and in real time while being spread across the world. New
technologies, especially involving telecommunications, serve to connect such
networks. Despite great distances and notwithstanding the presence of interna-
tional borders (and all the laws, regulations and national narratives they represent),
many forms of association have been globally intensiﬁed and now take place
paradoxically in a planet-spanning yet common arena of activity. In some
instances transnational forms and processes serve to speed-up or exacerbate
For example, two major agencies: Moody’s Investor Service (Moody’s) and Standard & Poor’s
2 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
historical patterns of activity, in others they represent arguably new forms of
human interaction. Transnational practices and their consequent conﬁgurations of
power are shaping the world of the twenty-ﬁrst century.’’ (Vertovec 2004, p. ii)
He refers to the intensity and ever growing volume of real time businesses and
exchanges enhanced and facilitated by mobility and new technologies creating
world wide networks. Earlier, Basch et al. (1994, p. 6) deﬁne transnationalism as a
‘‘process by which immigrants forge and sustain multistranded social relations that
link together their societies of origin and settlement’’ and they ‘‘call these pro-
cesses transnationalism to emphasize that many immigrants today build social
ﬁelds that cross geographic, cultural and political borders’’.
Transnationalism can be understood in a dialectic view of the links between
‘the global’ and ‘the local’ in a world of nodes denoting the transnational space
where global and local are increasingly difﬁcult to separate from each other (see
Kearney 1995; Miller 1995,1997; Grewal and Kaplan 1994; Jackson et al. 2004).
Transnational marketing and management is about business and consumption
practices in this very space. ‘‘Transnationality …refers to a social space that
transcends national boundaries; in this space, the ‘national’ is no longer the pri-
mary constitutive dimension of social relations, without however being relegated
to complete irrelevance’’ (Vliegenhart and Overbeek 2007, p. 183). This trans-
national space is where economic and market exchanges take place. Therefore, it is
the very place where a true transnational organization would stand and operate.
Transnational is an ironic term in a sense that it refers to the nation and yet it
emphasises the blurring, transgressing, and breaking down the nations and national
boundaries. Hence movements across nations and national boundaries become
essential at the expense of the nation or national boundaries. The inspiration for
this book came from studies on transnational migration, a ﬁeld of study where the
concept is allegedly most advanced. Transnational migrants are partly our focus
here when it comes to transnational mobile consumers. One of the common ref-
erences in these studies is to the transnational space and transnationality, which is
not necessarily a physical space. We will come back to this non-physical nature of
transnational space in later sections when transnational consumers are discussed.
This book provides insights and elaborates on two facets of the challenge:
Considerations and ways in which organisations devise strategies suiting the needs
of the ﬁrm and customers in an increasingly transnational world. The ﬁrst aim of
this book it to deﬁne what is a transnational marketing organisation, discussing the
transnationality of organisations and the need to take into account the transna-
tionality of marketing strategies. The second aim is to elaborate the concept of
‘transnational consumers’ and ‘transnational mobile consumers’ which is one of
the drivers for the need for transnational marketing strategies and relates to a
growing consumer segment across the world. First, the concept of transnationalism
Vertovec in another paper argues ‘‘not all diasporas are transnational communities, but
transnational communities arise within diasporas’’ (2005, p. 4). This is something one should
challenge as in the era of superfast communication and transportation, individuals and groups
including consumers may become transnational and show transnational behavior.
1.1 Introduction 3
is introduced and linked to the management context by focusing on transnation-
ality index (TNI), an instrument used for over two decades to measure the degree
of transnationality of multinational ﬁrms. Following criticisms of this instrument
(i.e. TNI), transnationality of marketing strategies will be discussed before moving
onto the transnational consumers and the utility of mobility and movement in
marketing segmentation. Hence, recent data and some case studies are used to
illustrate existing practices and needs in developing transnational marketing and
management strategies. The ﬁnal section of the book ponders on managerial
implications, limitations and potential future avenues in this line of scholarship.
1.2 Transnationalisation in a Global Era
Theodore Levitt, in his famous article, Globalisation of Markets, argued that there
was a shift towards globalisation, i.e. standardised products was in place in
response to convergence of demand across the globe (Levitt 1983). This has
received criticism widely and rightly so (Tedlow and Abdelal 2004). Globalisation
has perhaps passed its sell-by-date now and this is why scholars, researchers,
managers and practitioners are seeking new vocabularies and approaches. When
the term ‘‘glocal’’ introduced in a very catchy slogan ‘‘think global act local’’,
many cheers were heard. However have we really grasped the meaning of it? What
are the managerial and marketing implications of this ‘‘thinking global and acting
local’’? Perhaps more importantly, how can it be achieved?
Our students often ask what is the difference between global, international and
multinational ﬁrms. Then they ask what makes the transnational distinct. In terms
of production and marketing, multinationals offer products tailored for national
markets, the globals offer standardized products for all markets, and internationals
offer diversiﬁed products for a few or more markets. These terms also reﬂect their
ownerships and organisational span across countries. The ‘‘transnational’’ ﬁrm
emerges there as ‘‘stateless’’ or not belonging, or not afﬁliated, to any single
nation. The answer goes along the lines that transnationals offer products which
are optimised for global efﬁciency and yet customised, tailored to address local
needs and desires in different markets by drawing resources from a variety of
One major drive for transnational marketing is the change in the marketing
environment, which requires a transnational effort to achieve success. For exam-
ple, Overbeek et al. (2007, pp. 207, 208) argue that transnational regulations
increasingly replace domestic ones in Europe: Hence it means changing corporate
governance procedures and regulations, and transnational private regulation
replacing domestic accounting standards. For example, for marketing managers,
this means the transnationalisation of the political-legal marketing environment.
A bigger question is about the uses and practicality of the ‘nation’ as a unit of
analysis while there are strong commonalities across and beyond the boundaries of
national economies, cultures, living spaces, tastes and practices. Factors explaining
4 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
this variety, as well as commonalities, must surely be transnational in nature.
Challenging the ‘national approach’ is important in terms of better understanding
the environment and devising appropriate strategies to deal with the challenges
and behaviour which transcend the artiﬁcial divide between the internal (domestic)
and the external (international). For example, while there are transnational actors,
such as the European Commission and the OECD Secretariat, there are also
‘‘transnationally mobile shareholders’’ and ‘‘transnationally mobile investors’’ (see
Apeldoorn and Horn 2007, p. 83). However, ‘‘one societal force clearly appears to
be at the centre of nearly all recent reforms of corporate governance regulations,
that is, transnationally mobile capital, in particular global capital market actors.’’
(Apeldoorn and Horn 2007, p. 213). The market place and organisations also face
a challenge: Companies of all sizes have to engage in cross-border business for
various reasons including saturated home markets, threat of competition from
overseas, growing interdependence of world economics, and internationalisation
It is also important to note that such transnationality in the world of organi-
sations and ﬁrms does not necessarily need to be dominated by private sector.
Roger Altman, chair and CEO, Evercore Partners, and former U.S. deputy treasury
secretary, is among those who see an inﬂection point: ‘‘Much of the world is
turning a historic corner and heading into a period in which the role of the state
will be larger and that of the private sector will be smaller’’ (Kimmitt et al. 2010,
p. 57), since an increasing number of Transnational companies/corporations
(TNCs) and cross-border investments are owned, supported, or favoured by gov-
ernments (Kimmitt et al. 2010, p. 61).
1.3 Transnationality of Organisations
The number of ﬁrms organised and operating transnationally is increasing and thus
making borders less of a barrier. One can speak of ‘‘borderless’’ or ‘‘stateless’’
ﬁrms. In the same vein, we can even call some ﬁrms ‘‘born transnational’’. The
concepts of transnational and transnationalism are not alien to management and
economics in general. The Journal of Transnational Management was launched in
1996 even though the deﬁnitions of transnational management and transnational
marketing are not yet ﬁnalised. The United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD) has focused on TNCs since the mid-1960s and in their
1991 World Investment Report, TNCs were described as ‘‘integrating agents’’
(UNCTAD 1991, p. 81). Later, in 1993, UNCTAD developed its infamous
transnationality index, and in 2007, addressing some of the criticisms, a transna-
tionality spread index was included in their analyses (UNCTAD 2007, p. 2).
Hollensen states that ‘‘transnational organizations include international com-
panies that attempt to coordinate and integrate operations across national bound-
aries so as to achieve potential synergies on a global scale. Common R&D and
frequent geographical exchange of human resources across borders are among the
1.2 Transnationalisation in a Global Era 5
characteristics of a transnational organization. The transnational organisation’s
overall goal would be achieving global competitiveness through recognizing cross-
border market similarities and differences’’ (2007, p. 363). This needs to be
considered in the light of business mentalities in internationalization. From a
marketing environment point of view, legal and political frameworks are also of
importance for transnationals. Wigger (2007, p. 110) argues that ‘‘Transnational
companies (TNCs) are genuinely interested in lifting regulatory barriers that
hamper the free ﬂow of capital accumulation’’
because ‘‘reviews of cross-border
intercompany agreements involving several jurisdictions increase transaction costs
and the probability of conﬂicting results’’. Hence lifting these barriers is impera-
tive for organisations that are operating across and above national borders.
Hearn (2004) also summarised approaches to, and deﬁnitions of, transnational
corporations. Accordingly, some take a limited perspective and argue that for a
corporation to be called transnational, both management and ownership must be
equally divided between the two or more nations (Parhizgar 1999). Alternatively,
these corporations are to be actors transcending the nations and the larger ones are
often economically bigger than some nations (Bauman 1995; Giddens 1997).
Harzing (2000, p. 101) criticised the lack of clarity in conceptualisation of
multinational corporations (MNCs) in the international business literature: Terms
such as polycentric, geocentric, ethnocentric, multi-domestic, global, and trans-
national are often used to indicate different types of MNCs. However, few studies
tested these typologies which have become standard text book material. Hence it is
quite common that Multinational and Transnational are used interchangeably
when referring to large corporations such as Unilever, BP, Glaxo-Smith and the
likes. Global companies are often described as more efﬁcient while multinationals
are considered more responsive to local differences. International companies
demonstrate neither of these advantages. Transnationals systematically combine
the efﬁciencies as globals and responsiveness as multinationals in their organi-
sation conﬁgurations and operations.
The only simply operationalized deﬁnition of transnational organisation comes
from the United Nations. According to the 2010–2012 World Investment Survey
(UN 2012) examining 236 TNCs report that about 80 % companies reported more
than 50 % of their sales to be abroad, nearly 55 % reported more than 50 % of
their employment to be abroad and more than 40 % expected to have majority of
their assets and investments to be abroad (Table 1.1). Also over two thirds of these
236 surveyed TNCs described themselves as ‘‘global’’. The United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report 2011 (UNCTAD
2011) states that there are about 65,000 TNCs worldwide, 650 of which are state-
Accordingly, about a quarter of global gross domestic product (GDP) is
Often referred to in ‘‘Eurojargon’’ euphemistically as ‘creating a level playing ﬁeld’ (Wigger
2007, p. 110).
‘‘State-owned TNC’’ is contradicting with the transnational concept as we tend to deﬁne TNCs
as entities beyond and above national borders. However, this is the term used by the UN which
reports that 11% of all foreign direct investments (FDIs) are generated by state-owned TNCs in
6 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
generated by the TNCs, and the foreign sales, employment and assets of these
TNCs have all been increasing recently.
The UNCTAD rankings can be criticised. For example, among the top 100
TNCs in a recent ranking list, the average transnationality score was only 52 %.
Hence the question of transnationality of marketing strategies arises and this is
elaborated later in this book.
Transnationality Index (TNI) is a simple, perhaps too simplistic, measure. It
assumes that spread of sales, assets, and employees over a geography spanning
across national borders is an indication of ‘‘transnationality’’ for any given ﬁrm (or
organisation) from any given country. TNI is calculated as the average of the three
ratios: (a) foreign assets to total assets, (b) foreign sales to total sales, (c) foreign
employment to total employment. So the mean of these three ratios give us the
degree of transnationality (or transnationality index score) of a ﬁrm.
Some of the problems with the TNI are known to UNCTAD as acknowledged
in their 2007 report: (a) home country size is ignored, (b) sector speciﬁcs are
overlooked (2007, p. 13). Looking at the top 100 TNCs ranked by UNCTAD and
the home countries of these ﬁrms can easily show that, for example, the smaller the
country of origin, the more likely the ﬁrm to score high on TNI score.
For instance, among the top 20 most transnational ﬁrms, seven are from rela-
tively small countries whereas there is only one ﬁrm from the United States
(USA), one of the largest economies in the world. Nevertheless, the problem goes
further. Hypothetically, one can imagine that any ﬁrm scoring very high on any of
these rates (i.e. assets, employees, sales abroad) can also pursue more or less a
domestic marketing strategy. At the other extreme, it is also possible to think of,
for example, ﬁrms with the majority of assets abroad but yet they have a domestic
Moving assets to another country could be simply a means to beneﬁt from
cheaper manufacturing costs. Hence it is important to look at the marketing
strategy to see whether the organisation follows a transnational marketing strategy
or not to determine the ‘true transnationality of the organization’, which can be
simply deﬁned as an optimal balance between the national responsiveness
(adaptation) and global integration for efﬁciency (standardisation).
Transnational marketing strategies seem to be more suitable to certain indus-
tries, sectors, and marketing functions as suggested by Bartlett and Beamish (2011,
p. 308). In their review of the levels of integration and differentiation at Unilever,
the authors argue that chemical businesses are more likely to tend towards stan-
dardisation while packaged food businesses are towards high level of adaptation.
Hence, detergents stand in the middle and yet value chain activities or business
functions differ. While research is likely to be heavily standardised, sales and
marketing requires similarly high levels of adaptation to local/national market
(Footnote 4 continued)
2010 and it is of a national security concern for many nations due to governance and ownership of
these TNCs (UN 2011, p. xiii).
1.3 Transnationality of Organisations 7
Table 1.1 The world’s top 100 non-ﬁnancial TNCs, ranked by foreign assets, 2008
Corporation Origin Industry Assets Sales Staff TNI
1 Xstrata PLC UK Mining and quarrying 94 90 95 93.2
2 ABB Ltd. Switzerland Engineering services 81 95 95 90.4
3 Nokia Finland Electrical and electronic
91 99 81 90.3
4 Pernod Ricard SA France Food, beverages and
92 90 86 89.1
5 WPP Group Plc UK Business services 89 87 91 88.9
6 Vodafone Group Plc UK Telecommunications 92 87 87 88.6
7 Linde AG Germany Chemicals 90 89 85 88.3
Netherlands Food, beverages and
94 79 90 87.9
9 Anglo American UK Mining and quarrying 89 83 90 87.5
10 ArcelorMittal Luxembrg. Metal and metal products 96 90 76 87.2
11 Nestlé SA Switzerland Food, beverages and
66 98 97 87.1
12 Air Liquide France Chemical/minerals 93 80 88 86.9
13 Liberty Global Inc USA Telecommunications 100 100 59 86.2
14 Astrazeneca Plc UK Pharmaceuticals 79 94 83 85.4
15 Teva Pharmaceutical Israel Pharmaceuticals 74 96 84 84.4
16 Lafarge SA France Non-metallic minerals 88 86 79 84.2
17 Volvo AB Sweden Motor vehicles 79 95 72 82.3
18 Hutchison Whampoa Hong Kong Diversiﬁed 81 83 83 82.0
19 Cemex S.A. Mexico Non-metalic minerals 89 82 73 81.6
20 BP PLC UK Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 83 78 83 81.0
21 Roche Group Switzerland Pharmaceuticals 85 99 57 80.3
22 CRH Plc Ireland Non-metalic minerals 95 95 49 79.5
23 BAE Systems Plc UK Aircraft 89 83 65 78.9
24 Philips Electronics Netherlands Electrical and electronic
71 96 69 78.8
25 Schlumberger Ltd USA Other consumer services 78 75 78 76.9
26 BG Group Plc UK Electricity, gas and water 82 79 67 76.1
27 Total SA France Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 86 76 62 74.5
28 SAB Miller UK Food, beverages and
80 67 76 74.4
29 Coca-Cola Company USA Food, beverages and
62 75 86 74.3
30 LVMH France Other consumer goods 60 86 74 73.4
31 Diageo Plc UK Food, beverages and
81 87 51 73.0
32 Royal Dutch/Shell
UK Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 79 57 83 73.0
33 Siemens AG Germany Electrical and electronic
77 73 69 73.0
34 TeliaSonera AB Sweden Telecommunications 86 65 66 72.6
35 De Saint-Gobain SA France Non-metallic minerals 72 72 73 72.4
36 Eads NV France Aircraft 63 91 63 72.4
8 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
Table 1.1 (continued)
Corporation Origin Industry Assets Sales Staff TNI
37 Honda Motor Co Ltd Japan Motor vehicles 74 81 61 72.2
38 Unilever UK Diversiﬁed 60 68 83 70.4
39 Telefonica SA Spain Telecommunications 69 64 78 70.3
40 Grupo Ferrovial Spain Construction and real estate 81 64 60 68.3
41 Novartis Switzerland Pharmaceuticals 56 99 50 68.1
USA Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 71 70 63 67.9
France Retail and Trade 78 61 63 67.3
44 Holcim AG Switzerland Non-metallic minerals 64 62 73 66.3
45 Mitsui & Co Ltd Japan Wholesale trade 57 42 95 64.8
46 Vattenfall Sweden Electricity, gas and water 55 64 72 63.9
France Utilities 64 60 66 63.2
48 Sony Corporation Japan Electrical and electronic
47 76 63 61.8
49 Alcoa USA Metal and metal products 71 47 66 61.2
50 IBM USA Electrical and electronic
48 65 71 61.1
51 Metro AG Germany Retail and Trade 61 61 61 60.9
52 Fiat Spa Italy Motor vehicles 48 76 58 60.6
53 Volkswagen Group Germany Motor vehicles 53 76 53 60.5
54 National Grid
UK Utilities 53 66 63 60.4
55 Procter & Gamble USA Diversiﬁed 47 61 73 60.2
56 Nissan Motor Co Ltd Japan Motor vehicles 55 72 51 59.2
57 Sanoﬁ-aventis France Pharmaceuticals 50 56 71 59.2
58 Hewlett-Packard USA Electrical and electronic
43 69 65 58.9
USA Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 66 56 52 58.1
60 Thyssenkrupp AG Germany Metal and metal products 53 64 57 58.1
61 BHP Billiton Group Australia Mining and quarrying 44 69 60 57.8
62 Eni Group Italy Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 59 60 50 56.4
63 Iberdrola SA Spain Utilities 62 54 54 56.4
64 GDF Suez France Utilities 51 69 48 56.4
65 Carrefour SA France Retail and Trade 39 56 73 56.1
66 BASF AG Germany Chemicals 61 56 51 55.9
67 E.On Germany Utilities 65 42 61 55.8
68 Glaxosmithkline Plc UK Pharmaceuticals 47 63 55 54.8
69 United Technologies USA Aircraft 47 52 65 54.7
70 Daimler AG Germany Motor vehicles 48 77 39 54.5
71 Ford Motor
USA Motor vehicles 46 59 58 54.3
72 Pﬁzer Inc USA Pharmaceuticals 44 58 61 54.3
1.3 Transnationality of Organisations 9
needs. Marketing as a business function tend to be more responsive to national
differences. This therefore requires more adaptation. However, within marketing
function, tasks such as product policies tend to be standardised; whereas promotion
and advertising tasks crave a high level of adaptation. The dominance of
Table 1.1 (continued)
Corporation Origin Industry Assets Sales Staff TNI
73 Samsung Electronics S. Korea Electrical and electronic
34 81 48 54.2
74 Toyota Motor Japan Motor vehicles 57 64 38 52.9
75 General Electric USA Electrical and electronic
50 53 53 52.2
76 Johnson & Johnson USA Pharmaceuticals 47 49 59 51.8
77 France Telecom France Telecommunications 61 47 45 51.0
78 BMW AG Germany Motor vehicles 45 80 26 50.3
79 Deutsche Telekom
Germany Telecommunications 55 53 42 50.3
80 Vivendi Universal France Telecommunications 45 37 68 50.2
81 Repsol YPF SA Spain Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 48 52 51 50.1
82 Kraft Foods Inc. USA Food, beverages and
41 49 60 50.0
83 China Ocean
China Transport and storage 77 66 7 49.9
84 General Motors USA Motor vehicles 45 49 52 48.7
85 Rio Tinto Plc UK Mining and quarrying 53 37 51 47.0
86 Deutsche Post AG Germany Transport and storage 8 69 63 46.8
87 Bayer AG Germany Pharmaceuticals 35 52 49 45.3
88 Conocophillips USA Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 55 31 45 43.4
89 EDP Energias De
Portugal Utilities 55 38 37 43.1
90 Electricite De
France Utilities 48 47 32 42.2
Japan Wholesale trade 37 51 37 42.0
92 RWE Group Germany Utilities 41 37 40 39.7
93 Hyundai Motor
S. Korea Motor vehicles 35 47 28 36.5
94 Statoil Asa Norway Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 46 24 39 36.4
Japan Wholesale trade 52 35 17 34.6
Japan Wholesale trade 53 11 30 31.3
97 Wal-Mart Stores USA Retail and Trade 38 25 31 31.2
98 Hitachi Ltd Japan Electrical and electronic
25 33 35 31.2
99 Petronas - Petroliam Malaysia Petroleum expl./ref./distr. 27 42 20 29.6
100 CITIC Group China Diversiﬁed 18 24 20 21.0
Source UNCTAD (2010) World Investment Report
10 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
pharmaceutical, chemical, petroleum, and energy companies in the Top 100 TNCs
list is supportive of this argument. At the same time, it is also fair to say that
transnationalism is not for every business and every business function. Transna-
tional approach requires a rather ﬁne-tuned attitude and approach when setting up
Another hypothetical situation against the UNCTAD’s deﬁnition of transna-
tionality is related to the increased human mobility around the world. Many or-
ganisations have a very transnational body of staff who can offer input from
different backgrounds and experiences and are based in one country. Here the
point is to show that mobility and dispersal of staff is not a necessary condition for
pursuing transnational strategies.
Having a multi-culturally mixed body of
employees can enable these ﬁrms to develop transnational strategies without
extensive investment abroad. However, marketing orientation should also be taken
into account when determining the transnationality of the ﬁrms or organisations.
In their best seller text book, Keegan and Green imply, incorrectly, that global
and transnational companies are same as both adopt geocentric orientation (2008,
pp. 22 and 611). Obviously this is not correct, but, what is valuable in their account
is that they argue transnational companies serve global markets while utilizing
global supply chains and often have a blurred national identity; hence they are
characterized as ‘‘stateless’’ (2008, p. 23). They also emphasise that the distin-
guishing factor between ‘‘international or multinational companies’’ and transna-
tional ones is the ‘‘mind-set’’ but it only refers to the use of market research.
What we need to consider is to what extent is a transnational mentality
embedded in the marketing approach, a building block of a transnational mar-
keting organisation. Cross-border production efﬁciencies, innovation and knowl-
edge creation as well as sharing experiences and knowledge are essential for a
successful transnational organisation. Thus, the organisation and its parts will see
an exponential growth of information and knowledge sharing taking place
(Stonehouse et al. 2004, p. 170; Quinn 1992, p. 254). As the ultimate strategy in
the matrix of global, multi-domestic and domestic options, businesses following a
transnational strategy need to have all their participating ﬁrms behaving as a
collective learning organisation to achieve global efﬁciency and local/national
responsiveness at the same time.
Transnational mentality has been forced upon multinational organisations. For
example, host country governments have demanded more local involvement in
their operations such as technology transfers and local content requirements. On
the other hand, as mentioned earlier, the customers, despite increasing mobility
and connectedness across the world remained as locals and nationals with dif-
ferences in tastes and preferences. Bartlett and Beamish called this ‘‘the return of
national into terminology’’ while maintaining ‘‘competitive effectiveness and
economic efﬁciency, as indicated by the preﬁx trans’’ (2011, p. 13). Thus such
When we discuss transnational consumers and transnational mobiles we will elaborate the
relevance of human mobility further.
1.3 Transnationality of Organisations 11
organisations are superior to others with global mentality, multinational mentality,
or international mentality.
The transnational organisation is able to develop and naturally beneﬁt from
multiple diverse internal perspectives while having distributed, and yet indepen-
dent, assets and management capabilities internationally and at the same time
having and robust ﬂexible integrative process (Bartlett and Beamish 2011, p. 305).
Consequently the transnational marketing organisation would not suffer from the
inability of global organisation to respond to local market needs due to lack of
resources and organisational structures whilst also avoiding the inefﬁciencies due
to fragmented activities of a classic multinational company. Organisations with
transnational mentality need to adopt strategies in line at every level and in every
function. This includes having transnational staff members in the board room, in
project teams, involved in cross-country initiatives as well as having repatriation
and rotation programmes to facilitate cross-border exchanges within the organi-
As such ‘‘the transnational is characterised by its legitimization of mul-
tidimensional perspectives, its distributed and interdependent capabilities, and its
ﬂexible integrative processes. It is a model that is increasingly becoming main-
stream’’ (Bartlett and Beamish 2011, p. 314). The transnational marketing orga-
nisation enables more ﬂexibility and effective decision making within a system
where global activities are integrated and interdependent involving headquarters
and subsidiaries in other countries. Bartlett and Ghoshal warn here that under-
standing of cultural differences and patience are key success factors in a trans-
national organisation as the teams involve people with entirely different cultural
Nevertheless, the transnationality of a ﬁrm/organisation is probably only
measured accurately when the transnationality of their marketing strategy is also
taken into account. In the next section, after deﬁning transnational marketing, the
transnationality of marketing strategy and how it moderates the transnationality of
the ﬁrm will be elaborated with examples from the UNCTAD’s TNI ranking list.
1.4 Transnational Marketing and Transnational
The UNCTAD’s transnationality index is in need of improvement by integration of
transnationality of marketing strategy into the formula. Today Levitt’s (1983)
globalisation era, marked by a shift towards standardisation of products and
For details of these three mentalities see Bartlett and Beamish (2011, pp. 11–13).
However, there are challenges and barriers to such high level of staff mobility and engagement,
possibly affecting larger and smaller enterprises at differing degrees. Existing regulations
privilege the transnationally mobility of capital and owners of the mobile capital while not so the
interests of ‘stakeholders’ who are to an extent tied to a spatially ﬁxed and localised labour
process (Overbeek et al. 2007, p. 213).
12 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
convergence of demand across the world, has gone. The ‘‘stateless’’ organisation
now needs to address often very national and local varied customer needs, wants
and desires while also tackling with legal boundaries and ensuring optimal efﬁ-
ciencies in response to national and local requirements, demands and desires.
Thus, ‘‘think global, act local’’ becomes a very popular and perhaps overused
cliché. Nevertheless, this is the wavelength I pitch the concepts of transnational
marketing and transnational consumers.
Transnational marketing is a new concept in the literature of consumer
behaviour and marketing strategy. Nonetheless, there is a good number of studies
on transnational ﬁrms, organizations and corporations, and contracts (Smith and
Eade 2008; Ietto-Gillies 2005; Pitelis and Sugden 2000; Kneen 2002; Chatterjee
1996; Lall 1993; Jones 1993). In many marketing texts and articles, ‘transnational
marketing’ has been mentioned but not really elaborated and deﬁned. Well known
texts, such as Transnational Management by Bartlett and colleagues is no
exception to such lack of depth. It does only brieﬂy introduce the transnationality
index and differentiates types of organisations but, to an extent, leaves transna-
tional marketing undeﬁned. In some other works of Bartlett, a few more ideas are
added about the ‘transnational’ but still the term is used rather confusingly,
referring strongly to the ‘global’ description. It is pretty common that the two
terms are used interchangeably which implies that global and transnational are
almost the same we beg to differ.
To deﬁne what ‘‘Transnational’’ may mean in marketing, I would like to revisit
the deﬁnitions of four stages in a ﬁrm’s marketing internationalisation. Very few
international marketing and business texts refer to international, multinational,
global, and transnational as four strategy options (Mooradian et al. 2012, p. 185) or
phases or stages in ﬁrm’s internationalisation (Ghauri and Cateora 2006,
pp. 17–19; Cherunilam, 2010, p. 18) or ‘‘gradual evolution’’ (Bartlett and Beamish,
2011, p. 11).
International Marketing is the performance of business activities designed to
plan, price, promote and direct the ﬂow of a company’s goods and services to
consumers or users in more than one nation for a proﬁt. The only difference
between the deﬁnitions of domestic marketing and international marketing is that,
in the latter case, marketing activities take place in more than one country (Cateora
and Graham 2007). This is very similar to what Mooradian et al. (2012) call an
international marketing strategy where the emphasis is on the centralisation of
functions and a standardised marketing mix.
Multinational Marketing is deﬁned as companies treat that each foreign market
as separate and distinct, developing differentiated products and marketing strate-
gies speciﬁcally for each market (Albaum and Duerr 2008, pp. 14, 15, 688). On the
other hand, Usunier and Lee (2005, p. 218), like many others, use the term
Multidomestic referring to separate marketing strategies pursued in different
national markets. The focus here is on substantial differences in different national
markets and customised marketing mixes offered in each; or ‘‘multimix’’ strategies
employed (Mooradian et al. 2012, p. 186).
1.4 Transnational Marketing and Transnational Marketing Strategy 13
Global Marketing was deﬁned as a strategy where ﬁrms treat the entire world as
a single market and sell the same product in the same way everywhere (Levitt
1983). It is also about the ﬁrm’s commitment to coordinate its marketing activities
across national boundaries in order to ﬁnd and satisfy global customer needs better
than the competition (Hollensen 2007, p. 7). Albaum and Duerr deﬁnes Global
Marketer as ‘‘companies that are using an integrated worldwide marketing strategy
based on consistent brand selling for their products, making only minor changes
required by differing markets’’ (2008, pp. 14, 686).
Transnational Marketing or transnational marketing strategy requires a rather
delicate balance and approach where the motto is as much standardisation as
possible and as much on adaptation as needed. The emergence of a Transnational
Model can be dated back to the end of the 1980s when Bartlett and Ghoshal argued
that by then, many internationally oriented companies adopted the transnational
model (Barlett and Ghoshal 1989). Accordingly, companies are expected to
leverage their capabilities across borders and transfer best practices to achieve
global economies and respond to the local market conditions (Hollensen 2007,
p. 648). This is possible with a transnational organization, in contrast to its mul-
tinational, international or global counterparts. It is an organisation that ‘‘builds
and legitimises multiple diverse internal perspectives able to sense the complex
environmental demands and opportunities; its physical assets and management
capabilities are distributed internationally but are interdependent; and it has
developed a robust and ﬂexible internal integrative process’’ (Bartlett and Ghoshal
2000, p. 512).
Transnational marketing strategy refers to a global marketing strategy and
multidomestic marketing strategy with a focus on internal efﬁciency through
global integration of marketing programmes. In such a strategic approach, decision
making may be centralized to offer standardized products and services across
national boundaries without compromising the external ﬂexibility allowing
adaptation of products and services to local demands (Wasilewski 2002, p. 127).
Thus Transnational Marketing can be deﬁned as understanding and addressing
customer needs, wants and desires in their own countries of residence and beyond
and in borderless cultural contexts with the help of synergies emerging across
national boundaries and transfer of expertise and advantages shared between
markets where the organization operates transnationally (i.e. functions based in
two or more countries) with a transnational mentality supported by transnational
organization structures and without compromising the sustainability of any target
markets and resource environment offering satisfactory exchanges between the
This deﬁnition takes into account basics of marketing while also integrating
concerns about sustainability and the need for an appropriate organisational
structure to draw upon advantages and synergies emerging from different markets.
At this point, to wrap up the transnational marketing deﬁnition, it is useful to look
into mentality differences in marketing proposed by Bartlett and Beamish (2011).
The Ethnocentric-Polycentric-Regiocentric-Geocentric (EPRG) schema has
been used and discussed widely since the 1970s in distinguishing marketing
14 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
orientations ranging from ethnocentric to geocentric, where the former is char-
acterised by a managerial perception viewing ‘‘domestic techniques and personnel
as superior to foreign’’ while the latter is described as ‘‘a world orientation’’ (Wind
et al. 1973, pp. 14, 15). Ghauri and Cateora (2006, p. 21) present the same
framework and emphasize the need for different marketing mixes in different
countries, but their argument remain short of the transnational orientation,ifI
may call it.
Bartlett and Beamish (2011) propose a model of gradual evolution of strategic
mentality imposed by the development of a ﬁrms’ engagement in international
marketing. According to them, a combination of host country governments’
growing demands, customers’ rejection of homogenized products, and economic
and political volatility forced ﬁrms to adjust their global mentality, as embodied in
Levitt’s famous ‘‘the same thing, the same way, everywhere’’ (1983, p. 93), to the
localizing forces (Bartlett and Beamish 2011, pp. 12, 13). Hence internationalised
ﬁrms feel the urge to be responsive to local market while continuing with their
pursuit of global-scale competitive efﬁciency simultaneously. Transnational
mentality then, in contrast to the global model, recognizes the importance of
ﬂexible and responsive country-level operations.
In Table 1.2, the main differences between these mentalities and orientations
are summarised. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that despite the likely
gradual development of an internationalisation strategy, many ﬁrms leapfrog
skipping one or more of the stages proposed in the process. Transnational mar-
keting orientation is classiﬁed as the ultimate form of a dynamic and successful
ﬁrm beneﬁting from cross-border synergies and exchanges while also beneﬁting
from some global integration efﬁciencies and maintaining a virtually stateless
organisation where country markets are researched continuously. As local varia-
tion in needs, wants and desires as well as in the context has to be addressed,
economies of scale may be difﬁcult to achieve but customer satisfaction is likely to
be high. One downside of transnational strategy is the need for relatively complex
organisational structures, which ultimately increase management costs.
Is the degree of transnationality of the ﬁrm, or the degree of transnationality of
marketing strategy or having a transnational mentality that is important? Perhaps it
is all of these when it comes to devising a marketing strategy, a marketing plan
involving various marketing mix decisions. In the next section, the transnationality
of the organisation is revisited with reference to the transnationality of ﬁrms’
marketing strategy drawing upon a small-scale survey conducted in 2011.
Identifying the level of transnationality in an organisation by using the tools and
formulas described above do not help marketers in the increasingly competitive
and transnational marketing environment. For instance, in theory, it is possible that
a ﬁrm may have its staff spread across many countries and have production
facilities in several countries and the majority of sales recorded in many countries,
while applying a perfectly standardised marketing strategy. Yet this ﬁrm does not
necessarily pursue transnational marketing strategies. We believe the true trans-
nationality of a ﬁrm comes from a combination of the above criteria (i.e. sales,
staff, assets) and the ways in which transnationality is reﬂected in its marketing
1.4 Transnational Marketing and Transnational Marketing Strategy 15
Table 1.2 Marketing strategy by the type of orientation
Marketing mix is developed solely for the
domestic market; no interest in
Consistency in portfolio
Simple organisation and effective control
Ignorant of foreign market opportunities
Unexploited economies of scale
Marketing mix developed for the domestic
market and subsequently marketed abroad
with no adjustment; home country is
assumed to be superior to the rest of the
world; products are believed to be sold
everywhere without adaptation
Consistency in portfolio
Simple organisation and effective control
Economies of scale
Domestic market is protected
Differences in markets including customers,
environment and competition is ignored
Not exploiting potential beneﬁts from
destination markets in terms or resources
Decisions made ad hoc and in an opportunistic
Valuable managerial knowledge and
experience in local markets unnoticed
A different marketing mix developed for each
market; assumes that each country market is
unique; localized approach where products
are adapted to each market along with
customised multiple and nationally
Differences in markets including customers,
environment and competition is
Full exploitation of local markets through
Flexible approach and strategies
Little economies of scale
Duplication of efforts; hence inﬂating
Limited control over subsidiaries
Global/regiocentric and geocentric
Firms offer a single marketing mix to sell ‘‘the
same thing, the same way, everywhere’’
(Levitt 1983); may serve the world from a
single country and source globally; most
strategic decisions and research and
development are handled at the headquarters
High level of centralised control and decision
Cost advantages through integrated global
High economies of scale
Standardised, consistent portfolio and brands
Assumes homogeneity in national markets and
Ignores national differences
16 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
strategy. This need for transnational marketing strategy arises from the fact that
transnational problems cannot be solved by national teams and national perspec-
tives alone. For example, the governance approach argues that national civil
societal and governmental controls should be replaced by transnational NGOs to
monitor and sanction irresponsible business behaviour (Nolke and Perry 2007,
p. 126). One such NGO is International Baby Food Action Network who run a
strong campaign against Nestle
over baby milk formula product in India. The
challenge was that baby milk formula was designed to be used with clean water
while in the target country water was mostly contaminated, thus making the
product impractical. The campaign forced the company to become more respon-
sive to the Indian marketing environment and adjust the overall marketing strategy
in that part of their transnational network. The key feature to note here is that the
protesting NGOs are also following transnational strategies.
Table 1.2 (continued)
Ultimate form of a dynamic and successful
national differences and yet strives to achieve
efﬁciency through global integration; stateless
marketing organisation; decisions are based on
continuous market research;
High level of control and partly de-centralised
decision making involving cross-country input
back and forth
Cost advantages through integrated global
Moderate economies of scale
Cross-border adaptations and customisations
Beneﬁting from synergies and advantages
created at national level and shared
Resources and activities are dispersed but
specialised to achieve efﬁciency and ﬂexibility
Involves complex organisational structures
Can be costly in marketing and organisation
but it is balanced with advantages gained
overall from adaptation, innovation across the
Regiocentric and geocentric strategies are based on very similar assumptions where regiocentric
is also similar to polycentric type when a ﬁrm operates in multiple regions globally while altering
the marketing mix for each broad region
Cherunilam argues that ‘‘transnational is used to deﬁne the ultimate phase in development of
international ﬁrm’’ (2010, p. 19)
Nestle was one of the most transnational company ranked second on UNCTAD’s 2007
transnationality index ranking (UN 2007).
One leading NGO still pursue boycotting Nestle (see www.babymilkaction.org) while also
being part of a transnational alliance of over 200 NGOs across the world: International Baby
Food Action Network (IBFAN: http://www.ibfan.org/).
1.4 Transnational Marketing and Transnational Marketing Strategy 17
Bartlett and Ghoshal (1989) can be considered as pioneers of transnationalism
in management strategy. They have deﬁned transnational as conﬁguration, control
and coordination of global businesses in pursuit of global competitiveness without
sacriﬁcing local/national adaptation and customised as required for strategy and
structures. Later Stonehouse et al. (2004, p. 16) described transnational strategy as
‘‘one that combines a global conﬁguration and co-ordination of business activities
with local responsiveness, based on continuous organisational learning, and con-
sists of: global knowledge-based core competences giving access to global mar-
kets; extensive participation in major world markets; global conﬁguration of value-
adding activities which exploits both national similarities and differences; global
co-ordination and integration of activities; local responsiveness where required;
differentiated structure and organisation’’. This is similar to Yip’s total global
strategy (1992, p. 4) where a transnational strategy is used interchangeably with
global strategy and simpliﬁed as taking advantage of both global and local con-
ditions through a differentiated, rather than standardised, approach to business
(Stonehouse et al. 2004, p. 17). Nevertheless, over the 1990s, an understanding of
‘transnational strategy’, referring to efﬁciency gains allowing scale economies
while beneﬁting from the advantages of national responsiveness, has emerged.
As shown in Fig. 1.1, a transnational approach is more likely in certain
industries and more applicable to certain business functions, marketing is inclined
to be more nationally and/or locally responsive. There again, marketing mix
decisions concerning the mix components may not allow same level of efﬁciencies
and responsiveness. For example, the use of brands Elvital in Germany and Elseve
in France are both making a reference to the meaning of vital and seve. However,
probably because the word does not have a meaning in Hungarian, in the adverts
used in Hungary for the very same Elseve, the emphasis is rather on the place of
origin: ‘‘From L’Oreal from Paris’’. In this case, the core beneﬁt and core product
is the same and thus offers a high level of standardisation (i.e. global integration-
Fig. 1.1 Global integration versus national responsiveness needs. Source Bartlett and Beamish
(2011, p. 308) based on a model ﬁrst developed by Prahalad and Doz (1987)
18 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
efﬁciency) while the advertising is differentiated across countries as there is higher
need for national responsiveness. For example, advertising copy and communi-
cation materials need to be translated; channels used to reach the target customers
have to be adjusted to the local infrastructure.
Wasilevski (2001) tested the I-R (integration-responsiveness) framework by
assessing the six areas of international marketing strategy on a 7-point Likert scale.
His focus was on the marketing success of strategic business units (SBUs) and
based on managers’ self-reporting from 113 US-based MNCs. He concludes that
companies with more transnational marketing strategy are likely to be more suc-
cessful in the market. Adopting his model, we have investigated the transnation-
ality of marketing strategies in SBUs of TNCs; basically asked questions about the
degree of customisation and of standardisation in each of the four marketing mix
areas as was done by Wasilevski (2001).
His claim that transnational strategy breeds success surely needs some more
empirical testing. However, the measurement of transnationality of the strategy by
managers’ perception of their ﬁrms’ marketing strategy, including some marketing
mix areas, seems useful for our study. Thus, a very similar methodology is used
here to see whether the companies in the list of top 50 TNCs do pursue transna-
tional marketing strategies or not. It is possible to have companies which might be
classiﬁed as ‘‘transnational’’ according to the spatial spread of their sales,
employees and assets but yet pursuing either global or domestic strategies. These
can be rare cases but to improve the deﬁnition, there is value in understanding
whether their marketing strategies (as perceived by their managers) are also
For this purpose, we have randomly selected 25 companies from the top 50
TNCs listed in the UNCTAD ranking. We have emailed a short questionnaire with
16 questions to 114 SBU managers in these companies. Companies were randomly
chosen from UNCTAD’s 2008 transnationality index ranking list. Our survey
yielded 23 complete questionnaires (16 % response rate).
included some background questions about the respondent’s role in the company
and geographical focus if any. The ﬁrst six questions focused on whether the
SBU’s strategy aims to standardise products, pricing, promotion, distribution,
product development, overall standardised (or global) approach to country mar-
kets. The second set of questions asked opinion on whether the SBU’s strategy
aims to tailor products, differentiate pricing, customize advertising, adjust distri-
bution, introduce new products selectively, and pay attention to uniqueness of
As shown in Table 1.3, average transnationality scores in our survey are in line
with the expectations and with the UNCTAD rankings. Most ﬁrms scored high on
both integration and responsiveness scales. Unilever, Oriﬂame, Nestle and few
others score high in transnationality whilst some others mainly due to the
I would like to thank Martina Drennow who conducted the questionnaire survey as part of her
1.4 Transnational Marketing and Transnational Marketing Strategy 19
characteristics of their products and markets scored quite low. For example, Da-
none, marketing dairy products such as yoghurt, has to pay more attention to
national markets and local needs whereas BAT’s Lucky Strike needed less of that.
Unilever’s Pond’s also placed more emphasis on national differences for its skin
care products whereas for Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s (LVMH) Champagnes’
a global emphasis was more important and appropriate. Hence following the
argument by Bartlett and Beamish, it is possible to claim that products, industries,
and markets play a role in determining the need for standardisation and adaption in
designing transnational marketing strategies.
When the integration and responsiveness scores mapped, it was possible to
locate marketing strategies in our matrix to illustrate the level of transnationality of
their marketing strategies against each other (Fig. 1.2). It is clear that Frost &
Sullivan, a business consultancy ﬁrm with higher ﬂexibility with tailoring the
service offering as well as possible efﬁciencies, scored high on both scales and
appear closest to the transnational strategy on the top right corner. On the other
hand, two fashion brands, H&M and LVMH score high on global integration but
low on adaptation which is mainly due to the nature of products they offer, fashion
and luxury, which in both cases are more valuable when standardised. Thus,
Table 1.3 Average scores: transnationality, integration, responsiveness
Brands-SBUs Integration Responsiveness TransIndex
Frost & Sullivan 5.67 5.00 5.33
Unilever-Clear 5.00 5.50 5.25
Oriﬂame 5.50 5.00 5.25
Unilever-Clear 5.83 4.50 5.17
Nestlé 4.00 5.83 4.92
iZettle 4.67 5.17 4.92
Oriﬂame-Cosmetics 5.00 4.83 4.92
Mercedes-Benz 4.33 5.33 4.83
Unilever-Sunsilk 4.50 5.17 4.83
Mindshare-Mazda 4.17 5.33 4.75
MediaEdge CIA 4.33 4.83 4.58
BAT-Lucky Strike 5.67 3.50 4.58
Procter & Gamble 5.00 4.00 4.50
Unilever-Clear 5.17 3.58 4.38
Unilever-Ponds 3.00 5.67 4.33
Preem AB 6.17 2.50 4.33
H&M 6.17 2.33 4.25
LVMH 5.17 2.83 4.00
Orkla 1.83 5.67 3.75
MONTBLANC International 4.83 2.50 3.67
Danone 2.33 4.83 3.58
Telia Sonera 2.83 3.83 3.33
Carat 2.50 4.00 3.25
20 1 Transnationalisation and Transnational Marketing Strategy
geographical spread of assets, employees, and sales across national borders does
not necessarily mean transnationality in terms of marketing strategy.
All the ﬁrms we analysed are among the top 100 TNCs but, as seen from the
Fig. 1.2, some of them have marketing strategies perceived to be more transna-
tional than others. As mentioned earlier, one main reason for this variation is
distinct characteristics of sectors these ﬁrms operate and products and services
Organisations have to recognise these differences and address them by adjusting
their marketing strategies. Yet they must also address the differences in consumer
behaviour and consumer characteristics. The next chapter is focusing on the
transnational consumers and mobility and movement as variables to be used in
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Transnationals: Transnational Consumers
and Transnational Mobile Consumers
The subheading above may appear confusing but the two terms are used on
purpose to provoke debate on the possibility of having two broader segments
relating to the transnational marketing era. Levitt (1983) was expecting an ultimate
convergence of tastes, wants and desires which would make all of us more or less
‘‘global consumers’’. As known to marketing scholars and practitioners, there are
global consumer segments who are believed to consume similar things in a similar
way. However, the rise of a global culture does not mean though, consumers share
the same values and tastes everywhere, but that they participate in a shared con-
versation (Holt et al. 2004, p. 2). However, increasingly more nuances are being
discovered among these so-called global consumers and it seems mainly due to a
simple fact that these consumers share a lot but yet remain as nationals and locals
to an extent. The transnationals introduced in this brief are different from these
globals and locals in terms of their connectedness and mobility.
New technologies and increasing prosperity, coinciding with relatively
inexpensive transportation, has facilitated an increased connectivity among gov-
ernments, ﬁrms, and more importantly individuals, as consumers. Transnational
consumers are those people who understand, perceive and behave in a framework
transcending the national and local (socio-cultural, political, economic, and
technological) reference points. They are often linked to more than one national
framework and/or referring to such behaviour patterns beyond any national
framework. Therefore, we have those consumers who are not mobile but
connected transnationally as well as others who are spatially mobile, spending
substantial periods abroad or on travelling or moved abroad, and yet stay in touch
with the countries of origin and countries of transit. Hence the transnationals as a
consumer segment can be examined in two sub-groups: (i) transnationals (or
borderless non-mobiles) and (ii) transnational mobiles (or borderless mobiles).
An earlier conceptualization of the term can be found in Sirkeci and Mannix (2009 and 2010).
Figueiredo and Cayla later presented a similar concept in a conference paper (2012).
I. Sirkeci, Transnational Marketing and Transnational Consumers,
SpringerBriefs in Business, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-36775-5_2,
The Author(s) 2013
It is important to underline here that to be ‘‘transnational’’, mobility is not
essential. The transnational outlook, connectedness, being part of such networks
spanning across national borders can inﬂuence consumption patterns. Transna-
tional [non-mobile] consumers are the ones who are transnationally oriented.
Mobility and movement have not been considered among marketing segmen-
tation variables despite some growing literature on immigrant consumers. Nev-
ertheless, people, or consumers, have always been mobile and contemporary
consumer societies are more mobile than ever. Perhaps early mobile groups such
as Pilgrims or Free Masons
appearing as an imagined community in the ﬁfteenth
Century can be called early transnational mobile consumers as they have devel-
oped and shown patterns of behaviour beyond any single national cultural refer-
ence points and with some ‘‘gestures and signs of recognition allowing them to
gain conﬁdence and credit of counterparts abroad’’ (Pijl 1998, p. 99). However,
some national cultural set of references are likely to be found dominant in these
mobile individuals’ and groups perceptions and behaviour.
Transnational consumers, as is the case with transnational ﬁrms, can be con-
fused with the globals. Globals or global consumers can be deﬁned as those whose
social and cultural differences are overshadowed by their similarities in terms of
psychological consumer tendencies, mainly focusing on attitudes in the market and
towards ﬁrms, brands, and products (See Cleveland and Laroche 2007; Singh et al.
2006; Holt et al. 2004; Firat 1997). Holt et al. (2004, p. 5) identify four global
consumer segments: Global citizens, global dreamers, antiglobals, and global
agnostics. These are deﬁned by their perceptions of transnational companies with
no reference to consumers’ own characteristics, and certainly not mentioning their
connectedness and mobility levels. However, what Culley and Hudson (2010)
refers to as ‘‘fertility tourists or global consumers’’ would fall among our trans-
national mobiles because mobility appears to be a deﬁning characteristic.
We can link transnational consumers to the globalization of the marketplace,
which is a process inﬂuencing the cultural characteristics of people around the
world. In due course, ‘‘powerful forces such as capitalism, global transport,
communications, marketing and advertising, and transnational cosmopolitanism
are interacting to dissolve the boundaries across national cultures and economies’’
(Cleveland and Laroche 2007, p. 249). It is difﬁcult to claim that this process is
creating a homogeneous global consumer culture. However this process is blurring
the national and cultural boundaries and borders and thus paving way for trans-
national consumer practices.
In a different context, Derne (2008) refers to ‘‘transnationally oriented’’ family members.
Pijl (1998, p. 99) calls them ‘‘transnational classes’’.
26 2 Transnationals: Transnational Consumers and Transnational Mobile Consumers
2.1 Connectedness and the Consumer E-Geography
Konrad (1984) and Hannerz (1992) referred to intellectuals ‘‘without boundaries,’’
who are ‘‘at home in the cultures of other peoples as well as in their own. They
keep track of what is happening in various places…. They have friends all over the
world…. They ﬂy to visit one another as easily as their counterparts 200 years ago
rode to the next town to exchange ideas’’ (Konrad 1984, pp. 208–209).
‘Transnationally connected intellectuals’ may or may not be adequately large or
appealing as a segment, but the internet and wireless technologies have changed
the nature and speed people connect with each other while also changing the
marketing and marketing environment for good. For our discussion here, the most
important inﬂuence of internet has been the level of connectedness among con-
sumers around the world. Often it is referred to as ‘‘hyperconnectivity’’ enabling
global customer and talent markets, making geographic distances and national
borders almost irrelevant. Some so-called revolutions have been organized, or at
least facilitated, via tweets and facebook sharing. There is now a generation who
have always had the internet in their world. According to the International Tele-
internet penetration rates are increasing rapidly around
the world: More than 3 quarters of people in North America, two-thirds of Europe
and Australasia have access to internet. Percentages of internet users in Africa
grew over 36 times in the last decade or so whilst it grew 26 times in the Middle
East. In China, internet user numbers jumped from about 22 million to over 530
million in the same period. In some European countries such as Norway and
Iceland nearly all individuals have access to internet.
Social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google groups, and
Xing have become household brands in short span of time. This is one fascinating
feature of internet: Everything happens so fast! Hence some of these internet
business disappear equally rapidly. Nevertheless, almost one billion of the world
population have a Facebook (fb) account today. About half of European internet
users are also on fb, which means nearly 30 % fb penetration rate and it is over
50 % for North America. The implication for consumer behaviour is that through
these variety of means, individuals around the world are connected and share
information. They share what they like and what they do not like; they mobilise
campaigns, petitions, even boycotts.
Segmentation and targeting with the help of fb and other social networks has
been evolving in response to developments of the internet and increased con-
nectivity. About 5 years ago, it was possible to argue that fb users are ‘‘smart,
afﬂuent, and internet-savvy people’’ (Holzner 2009) but today, as majority of
people becoming part of it, there is no longer such easy associations. However, as
the Founder and CEO of fb, Zuckerberg, correctly said in an interview in 2007
‘‘nothing inﬂuences a person more than a recommendation from a trusted friend’’
(Story 2007). Within the contemporary transnational marketing and transnational
2.1 Connectedness and the Consumer E-Geography 27
consumers context, where this ‘‘trusted friend’’ is located does not really matter as
much as it did in the past. Hence a new term, e-geography comes into play.
E-geography or electronic geography can be an extension to what Batty (1997,
pp. 337–338) called ‘‘virtual geography’’ which he believes has risen as a result of
‘‘the emergence of virtual worlds which have their own sense of place and space,
their own geography’’. The beauty and challenge of this virtual geography is that it
does not necessarily resemble the real geographies of the world, countries, cities,
and towns. Our transnationals can surf through, search, meet up with each other in
the comfort of e-geography without the hassle of a physical move. It is cross-
cutting market spaces, social spaces and personal spaces through the inﬁnite
number of connections between the nodes each of which represents something; a
person, an organisation, a thing, product, a service, a place, anything else one can
Transnational consumers (including transnational mobiles) are part of these
virtual communities and geographies. The online technology offers many advan-
tages in terms of data availability and thus more precise targeting. However, many
would argue that the basics of marketing have not been changed, particularly
segmentation. Demographic variables are still very important for market seg-
mentation. For example, Linkedin users are expected to be professionals who aim
to maintain a network of trustworthy friends and business partners (Papacharissi
2009; Skeels and Grudin 2009). On the other hand fb tends to be dominated by a
younger demographic where two-thirds are expected to be younger than 34 who
are more interested in sharing fun stuff and personal experiences among friends
This segment of (non-mobile) transnationals can therefore be further segmented
by using psychographic and demographic variables to set up appropriate targeting
strategies. For example, gender differences and diverse attitudes of different age
groups are likely to moderate online behaviour whereas education and family
outlook can have signiﬁcant effect on the individuals’ involvement with transna-
tional networks. Again for instance, non-movers (or those who stay behind) who
are part of households with one or more members living abroad or had experience
of migration in the past are more likely to develop wider transnational connections
compared to others. Migrants and mobile professionals, as well as transnational
families (where members of the family are scattered in two or more countries),
would be expected to have strong cross-border networks (see Penaloza 1995).
Similarly, residents of global cities such as London are likely to develop rich
transnational networks involving people from a variety of countries and cultural
backgrounds (see Beaverstock and Smith 1996; Sassen 2002). One should also
remember growing numbers of mixed-race individuals who often maintain some
degree of connection to the countries from where their parents and grandparents
are originally from. They also tend to be bilingual or multilingual. Hence all these
consumers (e.g. dwellers of global cities and mixed race individuals) can be
considered as members of an e-geography that may or may not correspond to
physical boundaries of any nation state.
28 2 Transnationals: Transnational Consumers and Transnational Mobile Consumers
The ‘‘transnational imagined communities’’ concept proposed by Cayla and
Eckhardt (2008) helps to understand these borderless yet non-mobile consumers
and how their identities are inﬂuenced and shaped by brands. Cayla and Eckhardt
(2008) studied the role of brands in the creation of such transnational identities and
connections, with a focus on Asian brands. Here the connectedness is built by
consumption patterns and perceptions imposed by brands and marketing crossing
the national boundaries. They explore within the regionalisation debate, how Asian
companies moved from national association to regional association beneﬁting
from increasing regional exchanges between Asian nations through online and
print media while questioning the role of marketers in the process. These
exchanges and connectedness contribute to the process of creating a sense of
belonging and shared consciousness in the Asian region. Hence it is possible to
talk about an emerging transnational Asian imagined community of consumers.
This line of thinking is applicable to other parts of the world too; such as Latin
America, Middle East, or Mediterranean.
This connectedness can possibly be treated in a rather conventional market
segmentation. Online and wireless electronic connectedness is similar to roads and
transport routes connecting locations without the limitations of physical move.
Louvieris and Driver (2001) argued that the ‘‘marketing success in cyberspace
depends on understanding IP address in the same sense that marketers can interpret
postcodes or zip codes’’ (Sirkeci and Mannix 2010, p. 101). The ﬁxed IP address
would help to pin down consumers’ lifestyle and behavioural choices within a geo-
demographic segmentation model: Possible cyber-demographics use in market
segmentation? Existing dynamic IP address models, and household noise would
make such identiﬁcation extremely difﬁcult at individual level (Sirkeci and
Mannix 2010). However, the level, intensity, type, and nature of connectivity (e.g.
heavy users versus occasional users) can still be useful segmentation variables to
understand and target these highly connected people.
2.2 Introducing Mobility and Movement as Segmentation
In an earlier work, it was argued that for marketers, there is need for awareness of
‘‘human movement and mobility’’ which need to be included in our set of seg-
mentation variables (Sirkeci and Mannix 2010, p. 95). The urge to conceptualise
mobile consumers arises from a shift in consumer landscape, where borders are
increasingly blurred. Movement of goods, services, ﬁnances, and ﬁnally of people
have intensiﬁed in response to advances in transportation, communication and
technology as well as increasing global integration through regional and global
treaties (e.g. EU, NAFTA).
The key feature in this shift is increasing mobility and connectedness for
people. For example, some of the very experienced consumers are beneﬁting from
good pensions and savings and therefore they are very active and mobile. They
2.1 Connectedness and the Consumer E-Geography 29
often travel domestically and internationally and as a result spend considerable
time away from their permanent, or usual, addresses. These older consumers also
sometimes have families living in several locations (cities, towns and countries).
Thus a considerable number among this so-called ‘‘Golden Age’’ segment is
mobile. The changes in international secondary and higher education in certain
regions, such as the European Union, facilitated the emergence of a large trans-
nationally mobile student segment. Student exchange programmes carry students
from country to country and exchange students spend substantial periods abroad
through programmes such as Erasmus in Europe. Another example is transna-
tionally mobile professionals. These work for large multinational corporations and
sometimes by the nature of tasks, sometimes by company rules, they have to move
between different countries or make regular trips to carry out tasks in different
2.3 Early Scholarship on Mobiles
Consumer mobility is not a new phenomenon and yet consumers are more mobile
today than, for example, 50 years ago. As mentioned above, many people spend
substantial periods abroad. Among them are business people, holiday makers,
students, immigrants, and staff of national and supranational organisations and
governments. For instance, members of the European Parliament have to move
between Brussels and Strasbourg almost on a weekly basis. This two-seat
arrangement means these members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are
practically working in two countries and possibly living in three countries making
them a truly transnational group. The distinguishing feature of these consumer
groups, compared to the resident or non-mobile populations, is ‘movement’ in
Marketers need to pay attention to the ways in which this mobility and
movement feature can be taken on board in marketing planning. It leads us to the
issue of integrating mobility as a variable in market segmentation. Our current
segmentation toolbox includes some geographic and demographic variables. Thus
it should be relatively easy to add new spatial variables. ‘Place’ as a variable is
already well-established in marketing. Hence it is a key component in marketing
mix considerations. Nevertheless, understanding and use of ‘‘place’’ in marketing
analysis and planning are not reﬁned enough to consider human mobility yet.
Various available data sources such as censuses, labour force surveys and
expenditure surveys include information on place of residence, commuting dis-
tance, birth place, change of residence, and sometimes directly on migration status.
Thus, there is no reason for not developing marketing analysis and plans using the
However, there has been little attempt to integrate movement into our under-
standing of market segments. Bell (1969) investigated the consumption patterns
among households who changed their place of residence in the US. He named
30 2 Transnationals: Transnational Consumers and Transnational Mobile Consumers
them as national mobiles and mobiles in short. However, he was not speciﬁcally
interested in the ‘movement’ variable. Bell conducted his study just a year after
Andreasen (1966), who focused on conceptualisation of geographical mobility (i.e.
change in residence) into market segmentation. In this pioneering study of
mobility in marketing, he presented a strong case to show that a consumer seg-
ment, which he called geographic mobiles, are likely to have high purchasing
power and likely to switch products, brands and stores (Andreasen 1966, p. 341).
Surprising for him was the fact that while geographic location is sometimes the
most important determinant of consumer attitudes and behaviour, change of
geographic location was neglected.
Both Andreasen (1966) and Bell (1969) show us that ‘national mobiles’ who
migrate between the US states are a large and lucrative segment worth targeting.
These ‘mobiles’ are often relatively young (18–35), including disproportionately
high number of ethnic minority members.
Marketing scholarship has not yet acknowledged movement as a segmentation
variable though there is a growing literature on immigrant consumers for example.
These focused on migrants’ consumption patterns (Askegaard et al. 2005; Chung
2000), marketing of public transport (Frumkin-Rosengaus 1987), and immigrant
minority consumers (Burton 2002). Not much change since Bell had underlined this
fact by stating that ‘‘geographic location or residence has long been a recognised
factor’’ but ‘‘change in residence has received very little attention’’ despite the fact
that about 20 % of ‘‘American consumers change addresses each year’’ (1969, p. 37).
Bell’s ‘‘mobiles’’ or ‘‘inter-county mobile families’’ were corresponding to
three segmentation questions: Can we deﬁne a set of common lifestyle charac-
teristics for these? Are their shopping behaviour is affected by being ‘‘mobile’’?
Can we reach them via standard marketing programmes or do we need to develop
special ones? Then these mobiles were found to be relatively better off econom-
ically and socially and hence providing a lucrative opportunity for small or large
businesses (Bell 1969, pp. 43–44). These consumers were rebuilding their con-
sumption patterns in the new locations, destinations. Internal mobility levels are
similarly large across the world. For example, in the UK, during the year ending
June 2011, there were 2.59 million domestic moves reported, representing nearly
5 % of the total population (ONS 2012).
Nevertheless, over a decades later, Albaum and Hawkins (1983, p. 97) were still
trying to convince audiences that geographic mobility is an important variable as
about 20 % of the US population was moving home every year. Gottko and Sauer
(1989) revisited the issue to see if geographic mobility is relevant as a segmen-
tation base. These studies revealed that mobile consumers represent a reasonably
large segment and their demand and behaviour regarding particular products and
services are likely to be different than non-movers. It was also noted that there
were differences between long and short distance movers. This corresponds to our
A signiﬁcant portion of these are expected to be university students who change residence to go
to university as the highest level of migration is reported for those aged 19.
2.3 Early Scholarship on Mobiles 31
classiﬁcation proposed in Fig. 2.1, where, along with the distance covered in
movement, border crossing is added as a new dimension which allows us to
identify ‘transnational mobiles’. To represent different mobile consumer typolo-
gies, the axis x in Fig. 2.1 shows the distance of travel, movement whilst axis y
indicating whether the individual crosses a national border or not.
National and transnational alike, mobile populations pose new challenges for
marketers. On the one hand, they are likely to demand, for example, certain mobile
services more than non-movers. Commuters, and distances to commute to work,
become more relevant here. It is difﬁcult to estimate the exact size of such
commuting populations in global cities but one can comfortably say it is large. For
example, it is estimated that the day-time population in City of London is about 30
times larger than the night time population. Such global cities also attract a good
deal of transnational commuters who may stay a little longer e.g. few days.
Marketers need to take into account the fact that mobility itself is an important
characteristic which may change consumer behaviour and trigger different needs,
wants and desires. Moreover, mobility is likely to cause a substantial change in
terms of consumers’ cultural reference points. This means individuals would carry
choices, preferences, tastes acquired in their places of origin, on the journey, and at
the places of destination. Marketers categorising these mobile individuals need to
consider these potential inﬂuences. A second generation Turkish individual from
Berlin, Germany is likely to show different attitudes as a consumer compared to a
Turk from Istanbul who never left Turkey. Similarly a Yorkshire man-became-
Londoner would have London and Yorkshire in his set of cultural reference points
compared to somebody who never travelled outside Yorkshire. The reference points
are also important for decision making models. Consumer decision making, for
example, regarding the value of a service or product, would be moderated by the
fact that whether they have a single reference point or multiple reference points.
Commuters Internal movers
Fig. 2.1 Mobility and
mobile consumer segments
For a review of single and multiple reference points in decision making models, see Koop and
32 2 Transnationals: Transnational Consumers and Transnational Mobile Consumers
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who are ever more mobile within and beyond national boundaries. National
mobiles, then, are comprised of long-distance and short-distance commuters and
those who have moved between places. It must be also noted that these internal
moves may mean drastic differences in cultural, social, economic and political
environments in countries with larger geographies and multi-ethnic structures such
as China and India. For example, a move from Kashgar in western China to
Shanghai covers a vast physical distance (over 3,000 miles) as well as a signiﬁcant
cultural (Islam to Budhism) and socio-economic (small city to global industrial
hub) distance. Then next step is to deﬁne and explore these transnational mobiles
and any subgroups amongst them. Then it is possible to elaborate on the segment
characteristics and attractiveness of such transnationals.
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34 2 Transnationals: Transnational Consumers and Transnational Mobile Consumers
Mobility and the Transnationals
In a recent conference paper by Figueiredo and Cayla (2012), mobile professionals
who constantly move through different national cultures were called ‘‘circulating
consumers’’. I suggest to frame these ‘‘circulating consumers’’ within our wider
category of ‘mobile consumers’ where movement and mobility is appropriately
taken into account as key segmentation variables to identify these ‘‘mobile con-
sumer groups’’ as shown in Fig. 2.1. The vertical axis in Fig. 2.1 shows domestic or
cross-border character of the mobility while the horizontal axis shows the distance
and duration of mobility. Hence we can distinguish commuters from movers (i.e.
migrants) and internal movers and commuters from cross-border movers and
commuters. Hence these latter ones should be called transnational mobiles.
The sub-segment of mobile consumers, ‘‘transnationally mobile consumers’’
can also be labelled in short as ‘‘transnationals’’. They are likely to switch between
national allegiances and experience an overall weakening of allegiances to a single
nation state or national cultural context and be inclined to have multiple cultural
reference points. There we observe a multiplication of national allegiances among
these consumers. Their mobility reaches beyond a single move from point A to
point B or from country A to country B and this mobility triggers and contributes
to a very dynamic multi-acculturation process.
The key is weakening ties among consumers to a single location as many study
abroad, work abroad, and holiday abroad. However, there is a great variety within
these mobile groups beyond the two axes, of distance and border crossing, drawn
above. Segmentation of this group is therefore a demanding task. One way around is
to focus on categories of mobility in terms of causes, motivations, and intentions.
Thus, settlers, temporary migrants, high skilled migrants, students, and refugees can
be classiﬁed as subgroups. However, other demographic categories based on gender,
income, race and so on would cross cut these subgroups based on causes of mobility.
The difference between Bell’s (1969) ‘‘national mobiles’’ and the transnationals
is the border crossing or mobility beyond national borders. These are often both
employees and customers of borderless/stateless companies. It is important to note
here though we are not only thinking of migrants who often move from one place
to another with a vision to settle for a long or limited period. Human mobility is a
I. Sirkeci, Transnational Marketing and Transnational Consumers,
SpringerBriefs in Business, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-36775-5_3,
The Author(s) 2013
term that covers both those aiming to settle and those others who constantly move
back and forth and across national borders where movement is in their routines of
With the exception of larger countries mentioned above, Bell’s mobile nationals
are likely to move shorter distances compared to the transnational mobiles. As we
discussed elsewhere, transnationals crossing national borders often face a new set
of rules, regulations, laws and new political environments. They move between
different economic settings, cultural settings shaped up by different belief systems
and attitudes. In certain cases, they move into a different technological environ-
Transnational mobile consumers, at least some of them, are frequently moving
between places and countries. This has not received much attention in the litera-
ture. However, signiﬁcant number of works have been carried out on acculturation
processes ethnic minorities and immigrant consumers are believed to go through.
This literature followed the debates in Sociology and Anthropology from a dis-
tance as is often the case for business disciplines (Burton 2005). Thus, it was
believed that these consumers with different backgrounds, that is different cultural
reference points, would eventually assimilate into the mainstream consumer
society as their tastes, preferences, and needs would converge over time. Askeg-
aard et al. (2005, p. 160) ﬁnd that among Greenlandic immigrants in Denmark ‘‘a
transnational consumer culture emerges as an acculturative agent’’ as an unex-
pected outcome for post-assimilationist viewpoint. Later Üstüner and Holt (2007)
found that hegemonic relationships shape the ways in which consumer accultur-
ation develops; hence pointing out complexity of the process. The literature on
identity is well developed Human Geography, Anthropology, and Sociology;
identity is often multiple, relational, and changing, thus making understanding the
acculturation process even more complex and difﬁcult.
Nevertheless, the real question to be asked perhaps is nothing to do with
acculturation or assimilation. Human mobility simply expands the networks
individuals are involved with, exposes them to new relations and contexts, and in
some cases this happens many times. This process may lead to an increased
awareness as well as triggering the process of reﬁning, redeﬁning, and reposi-
tioning of oneself against the others, in relation to the others and in relation to
one’s own experiences all embedded in the context(s) individuals are leaving
behind, passing through, stopping by, or arriving in. The transnational social space
is simply multiplying the processes and offering a space of enactment for new
identities. Therefore, although we can understand the multi-acculturation argu-
ments (Figueiredo and Cayla 2012 and Askegaard et al. 2005), this transnational
mobility process may not necessarily result in any acculturation but creates new
(transnational) identities. Thus one can speak of the creation of transnational
consumer cultures appropriate to the transnational ‘‘consumption-scapes’’.
these mobile individuals are likely to be aware of and responsive to new socio-
Ger and Belk (1996) used the term ‘‘consumption scape’’ in another context.
36 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
cultural environments they are entering. The legal and customary codes about
certain services and products such as tobacco, alcohol in these new environments
are to be considered by these transnationals and thus their consumption behaviour
is adjusted to the new environments.
Transnational mobility, on the other hand, is ﬁnancially costly. Along with
ﬁnancial costs, it also requires a certain level of human capital and social capital to
facilitate border crossing and life in another country.
This may mean being
skilled, knowing other languages, having friends, acquaintances, and family
abroad as well as good enough ﬁnances to cover the expenses of preparation and
travel (e.g. visas, permits, travel, accommodation, etc.). Hence it is possible to
argue that, at least a certain group, of transnationals are better off and likely to
have higher incomes and/or wealthier than the ordinary consumer. No wonder this
proﬁle shall make transnationals more appealing to many businesses. Then the size
matters. We have already looked at national mobiles who represent about 20 % in
the US and nearly 5 % in the United Kingdom (UK) as mentioned earlier.
3.1 Mobile Population is Larger Than Migrant Population
Despite being one of the dominant topics in mainstream media and politics in
many countries, particularly in the industrialised world, only about 3 % of the total
world population reside outside their countries of birth. International Organisation
for Migration (IOM) reports it to be around 214 million (www.iom.int). Mobility is
not evenly spread around the world as some parts of the world witness more
migration than others. For example in Europe and North America, about 9 and
13 % are overseas born respectively whilst this ﬁgure is 15 % for Oceania (UNDP
2008). Emerging markets and fast developing countries such as Brazil, Turkey,
Russia are increasingly receiving more migrants but overall the share of immi-
grants in total population is relatively smaller in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
These statistics largely exclude the short term moves as ofﬁcial statistics are
commonly compiled according to a United Nations deﬁnition of migration which
is changing permanent place of residence for 12 months or more. Many of those
professionals who frequently move between countries and yet stay lengthy periods
but not enough to qualify for migrant status are often invisible in these statistics.
Therefore, travel statistics often indicate much larger ﬁgures. For instance, in
the UK, reported total number of person trips for 2005 was nearly 95 million (ONS
2006). For 2011, UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported that almost 220
million went through the gates of UK airports while over 133 million were des-
tined to London’s ﬁve major airports. Obviously these ﬁgures include multiple
trips by individuals and do not necessarily indicate such a huge migrating popu-
lation but surely it is an indication of mass mobility. It simply indicates that there
See Cohen et al. (2009) and O’Leary (2009).
3 Mobility and the Transnationals 37
is a movement carrying a population over three times larger than the country’s
ofﬁcial population size.
The UK travel statistics from 1980 to 2011 provide evidence for increased cross
border travels, that is increased human mobility, and increasing spending by these
mobile people (ONS 2012b). Figure 3.1 shows that the number of UK residents’
visits abroad rose from 17.5 million in 1980 to 56.8 million by the end of 2011.
The number of overseas visits to the UK nearly tripled to 30.8 million in the same
period. The total spend by these international visitors (both directions) grew
almost ten-fold, from a mere £5.6 billion to almost £50 billion in three decades.
Again, among the British reported in this data set, there are people who make
multiple visits every year. There are also others who never travel anywhere.
However, yet, these ﬁgures are for a country with a population of just 63.2 million
Similar statistics can be found for all other countries and global cities to
underline the ever-increasing transnational mobility as well as transnational
expenditure. For example in the US, total number of visitors went from 41.2
million in 2003 up to 62.3 million by the end of 2011.
In the same period the
number of US citizens visiting other countries slightly increased from around 55
million to 60 million. In the meantime, historic ﬁgures on spending by visitors,
inbound and outbound, indicates a steady increase: Americans’ expenditure rose
from around $2 billion in 1960 to around $14 billion in 1980, then to $48 billion in
1990, to $89 billion in 2000, and ﬁnally $110 billion in 2011. Since the end of
1980s, the US began receiving more tourism revenues than what her own citizens
spend abroad. Spending by visitors to the US rose from about $1 billion in 1960, to
over $13 billion in 1980 and to $153 billion in 2011. Although US is one of the
largest markets in the world, these two ﬁgures put together represent a total vol-
ume ($263 billion) which is larger than most countries GDP (USDoC 2012).
According to the World Tourism Organisation Statistics, the number of
OS visits UK
Fig. 3.1 UK international travel and expenditures, 1980–2011. Source ONS (2012b)
Following the New York attacks there was a sharp decline in visitor numbers in 2001 and 2002.
38 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
international tourists who stayed overnight almost doubled from 535 million in
1995 to 1,035 million in 2012, over half of whom were reported in Europe.
Usually about a quarter of these visits are for business purposes indicating a
signiﬁcant market for needs other than leisure.
3.2 Sub-groups Within Transnational Mobiles
The fact appears to be that transnational mobiles making over a billion trips every
year may represent a gigantic market. However, within this large population, there
is a great diversity. They surely share some common characteristics but we will
ﬁrst look into potential sub-segments which may present more precise and
attractive marketing opportunities.
Transnational mobiles are both consumers and providers; they are marketers
too. They do move around the world and consume products and services satisfying
their distinct needs arising from the fact of being mobile. Among them are tourists,
business people, entrepreneurs, highly skilled professionals, and various kinds of
immigrants e.g. working holiday makers, students, refugees, seasonal workers, and
Their needs and wants, thus consumption and expenditure patterns, can
be relatively different from their fellow citizens left behind in the origin country
and those in their destination(s) (i.e. non-movers, non-mobiles). Holiday makers
and professionals working in multiple or far away locations should also be con-
sidered in this category, which we term as ‘transnationals’ because of their links,
networks and complex reference points reaching beyond any single national
context. These people establish links with their friends, families, partners in
diasporas (e.g. Indian diaspora, Jewish diaspora, Turks in Europe) as well as those
in their countries of origin. They foster new cultures and experiences while the
cultural baggage they carry remain to be of interest to marketers.
Then the important question for marketers is how these customers will be
identiﬁed and segmented? What will be the reference points that we need to take
into account contextual characteristics while setting up marketing plans targeting
these mobile people? Is it their country of origin or the destination matters more?
The transnational mobiles can be categorised under two main groups: Migrants
and non-migrants, based on the criteria of changing place of residence for
12 months or more as the UN deﬁnition suggests. Figure 3.2 illustrates the sub-
groups within these two broader categories. The ones within the red circle are core
migrant groups whereas others do not always comply with the 12 month criteria.
Nevertheless some groups may also include people who falls within the migrant
Available from http://www.unwto.org.
‘‘Transnational entrepreneurs’’ are an interesting group, for example. They are deﬁned as
entrepreneurs who undertake cross-border business activities (see Özden and Schiff 2005). These
are considered in relation to ‘brain drain’ and ‘brain circulation’ and even called astronauts as
they spend substantial amount of time on airplanes (Saxenian 2002 and 2006, p. 318).
3.1 Mobile Population is Larger Than Migrant Population 39
category and these are shown overlapping in the Fig. 3.2. Some of these categories
are more mobile than others. For example, professionals, entrepreneurs, and
sojourners are frequent travellers whereas asylum seekers, refugees and undocu-
mented movers are less mobile due to their unique legal circumstances which often
impose limitations on their movement within and between countries.
3.2.1 Transnational Professionals and High Skilled
One of the leading consultancy ﬁrms argue that globally minded leaders are
needed to advance projects and it takes a ‘‘borderless approach to recruiting top
talent’’. This particular ﬁrm employs about a quarter of a million professionals and
receives over 1.6 million job applications from around the world. Mobile pro-
fessionals attracted some attention from companies who are providing mobile
services particularly in the communications sector.
Mobile professionals can be
Tourists - visitors
Fig. 3.2 Transnational mobile segments
It seems most focus is on white collar ofﬁce professionals but one should remember that there
are other professionals such as plumbers, mechanics, medical staff who are very mobile too,
although these are unlikely to be transnationally mobile.
40 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
employed by transnational companies or organisations as well as other ﬁrms with
international operations and links. Company executives, specialist consultants
such as information technology (IT) consultants, engineers, ministers of religion,
professors teaching in transnational campuses, university ofﬁcers involved in
overseas operations fall into this group. This group includes a good number of high
income managers. For example, in a comparative study, 38 % of executive
directors of the top 100 ﬁrms in France and 48 % in the UK were ‘‘foreign’’ while
the share among non-executive directors were 64 and 62 % respectively (Harvey
and Maclean 2010, p. 119). Intra-company transfers is also part of this broad
segment of transnational mobile professionals.
Intra-company transfers represent a unique and privileged category among
transnational mobiles. They are often not subject to the usual immigration controls.
They represent about two-thirds of those registered in high skilled migrant pro-
grammes. Their admissions are often treated preferentially for a few reasons: First,
they are transferred on a temporary basis—e.g. in the UK, these can stay up to
5 years. As a manager of a pharmaceutical ﬁrm suggested, this assignments are
lengthy for a reason: ‘‘If you are trying to form a relationship with a government as a
country manager, you are not going to do that in three years. Four years is still a bit
short…probably ﬁve years’’ (Salt and Wood 2013, p. 99). Secondly they are either at
managerial or executive levels or in possession of specialist knowledge and skills
which are considered to be in shortage and uncommon in general labour market.
Supranational and regional organisations such as the European Union, the
United Nations, and the UNICEF also mobilise their members of staff transna-
tionally. For instance the members of the European Parliament have to commute
between their constituencies and the Parliament sessions held in Brussels and
Strasbourg. Similarly, workers of UNHCR, the UN agency dealing with refugees
around the world have to spent substantial periods abroad in the ﬁeld while some
others visit multiple sites on a regular basis. Similarly, professors employed for
transnational education programmes of universities (e.g. Nottingham, UK, Mid-
dlesex, UK, Yale, US, Webster, US) may be required to spend lengthy periods
away in their campuses in Dubai, Malaysia, or China.
Acculturation process poses interesting challenges for multinational com-
panies with signiﬁcant numbers of expat managers. These do go through a
multi-acculturation process as they move between countries and some
studies argued that the failure in acculturation costs companies in excess of
$50,000 per manager along with some difﬁcult-to-measure costs such as
decline in self-esteem (Mendenhall and Oddou 1985, p. 39). Nevertheless,
the acculturation process is facilitated by the ﬂow of ﬁnances, goods,
information, ideas, and people to create individuals who are inﬂuenced and
shaped by multiple cultures (Craig and Douglas 2006).
3.2 Sub-groups Within Transnational Mobiles 41
These professionals live abroad for relatively varying periods from a few days
or weeks to 6 months or more. They often work on speciﬁc projects or meet with
their clients, providing training, consultancy and giving lectures. Many of them are
expected to travel alone or with colleagues while some also take their families
along. In fact many of them might be single.
This professional mobile group is believed to be signiﬁcantly large among
transnational mobiles and their mobility is increasing (Beaverstock and Faulcon-
bridge 2010). The total number of business travel miles increased about one-third
in the 2000s (Faulconbridge and Beaverstock 2008). Similar to other countries in
Western Europe, business travel has grown rapidly in the UK (ONS 2006 and
2012b). While international travel for business purposes have doubled in the last
two decades, average length of stay for business trips is around 5 nights. In fact,
travels between the UK, France, and Germany constitute about 25 % of total
number of visits to and from the UK whilst travels from and to Europe represent
about 75 % of this market in the UK travel industry.
There are motives for corporations to source within their internal labour markets
and move staff around the world. Salt and Wood (2013) refer to categories such as
commuter assignments of key experts who commute weekly over periods up to
2 years or ‘‘extended business travel’’ ranging from a month to six months. Some
companies prefer to shift staff internationally when they set up new subsidiaries in
another country until the local staff are trained and available (Salt and Wood 2013,
p. 91). They quote a manager stating ‘‘We have to move these people around the
world to where we have the global centres of that particular type of work’’ or the
‘‘business is based on a very speciﬁc knowledge, skills, research. So it requires a lot
of movement of the very highly specialised, may be research scientists’’ (Salt and
Wood 2013, pp. 98–99). In other cases, the need is drawn from the company’s staff
training policy and client requirements as one IT manager points out: ‘‘we actively
rotate people back to India’’ to make sure the off-shore team get a real appreciation
of the client needs (Salt and Wood 2013, p. 101).
For example, in a small higher education institution in central London, one can
ﬁnd a professor who lives in Germany and travels to London frequently to teach
his classes on management. At the same institution, another lecturer based in
Barcelona travels several times a year to teach a master class while another col-
league travels from Turkey to teach his well demanded class each Spring semester.
Each one of them spends a good deal on travel and accommodation as they often
stay in London for periods ranging from a few days to a few weeks for each set of
Mobile professionals are required to deliver services in multiple locations. That
may mean a heavy reliance on mobile services such as mobile phones, wireless
internet, e-mail as well as resources and support which would be easily available in
an ofﬁce setting. When working, mobile professionals can also be required to work
in unconventional environments such as in a car, in a café, hotel, station, or airport.
These are features likely to incur higher costs when staff are on the move which
goes beyond simple travel costs. For example business people who spend a sub-
stantial portion of their working week travelling, equipped with mobile services
42 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
via laptops, mobile phones and other smart devices are called ‘‘Techno Road
Warriors’’ (Schiffman et al. 2008, p. 52).
High skilled migrants are considered among transnational professionals because
they share similar characteristics overall. However, their cross-border moves are
often self-initiated and motivated by career prospects. They are not sent by
companies but travel on their own initiative (Ariss and Syed 2011, p. 288). They
are likely to be subjected to stricter border controls compared to intra-company
transfers but still likely to be relatively more mobile and wealthier. As in many
countries, when such admission systems in place, high income is imposed as
Medical doctors and IT specialists are such professionals and
also they overlap with immigrants category. For example, overseas doctors con-
stitute a signiﬁcant share of those in the profession in many industrialised countries
such as New Zealand, where more than a third of doctors are overseas (MOHnz
2008), and the UK, where around 25 % of consultants have overseas qualiﬁcations
(Goldacre et al. 2004).
3.2.2 Transnational Entrepreneurs
Portes et al. (2002) present transnational entrepreneurship as an alternative way of
immigrant adaptation as these individuals are believed to mobilise their cross
country social networks to succeed economically. They beneﬁt from a web of
contacts created by immigrants and their home country counterparts who engage in
a pattern of repeated back-and-forth movements across national borders in search
of economic advantage and political voice (Portes et al. 2002). Transnational
entrepreneurs are a signiﬁcant group. For instance, Morawska (2004) names three
types only in New York: ‘‘Chinese global traders’’, ‘‘Jamaican ethnic entrepre-
neurs’’, and ‘‘Dominican small-scale investors’’. Chinese global entrepreneurs are
found even in tiny nations such as Cape Verde (Haugen and Carling 2005).
These entrepreneurs tend to move, even commute, between their countries of
origin and host, taking care of their investments in both places. They very rarely
move into third countries. According to a Canadian study, a typical transnational
entrepreneur is a 45-year-old or older man who is married with one child, likely to
have a Master’s degree, with no full-time job and he moves to another country
seeking business opportunities and, subsequently, looks for business expansion by
drawing resources from dual locations (Lin and Tao 2012).
The survey of 1198 ﬁrms conducted in the US by Portes et al. (2002) reveal a
consumption and business pattern spanning across home and host countries.
Typical transnational entrepreneurs invest in their home countries while about one-
third import goods from their home countries. About a quarter travels at least twice
In the UK, earning requirement for eligibility in high skilled immigration category can be as
high as £45,000 minimum (UKBA 2007).
3.2 Sub-groups Within Transnational Mobiles 43
a year and about sixth travels six times or more every year. Nevertheless, the key
fact is that these individuals’ consumption behaviour is shaped by distinct sets of
environmental structures, including cultural repertoires, social and professional
networks and power relations carried over and gained through travels (Terjesen
and Elam 2009, p. 1105).
Dominicans in New York is an interesting case, because they are framed as
‘‘temporary’’ movers in the discourse of the Dominican government (Itzigsohn
et al. 1999). Constantly moving between the two countries, these transnational
mobiles invested substantially in the residential construction industry in the
Dominican Republic. In response to this demand, Dominican construction and real
estate ﬁrms became regular advertisers in the immigrant media in New York City
while new development projects in Dominican Republic largely designed for,
targeted and marketed to the expatriate community (i.e. transnational entrepre-
neurs) (see Portes et al. 2002). Hence we can identify here the inﬂuence of
transnational mobiles on the marketing mix of a national construction industry.
These entrepreneurs typically forge ties between the sectors in their country of
origin and destination on a daily basis. Kamber, the Turkish manager of a cultural
association in Germany ‘‘have to deal with Turkey almost every day…work
closely with ministries and cultural organisations in Turkey…deal with artists …
record companies’’ (Faist et al. 2013, p. 32). Their cultural ties, or cultural ref-
erence points determine their business behaviour as well as consumer behaviour.
For example, another Turkish entrepreneur from Germany, Ozlem, aged ﬁfty-ﬁve,
selling evening and wedding dresses sources them from factories in Turkey. She
goes to Turkey ‘‘for business for 10 days and stay for the weekend to see her
daughter who runs a fashion store in Turkey’’ (Faist et al. 2013, p. 36).
3.2.3 Wealthy Mobiles
More afﬂuent people are more able to travel as they wish. Around the world, most
migration admission regimes favour such clients. Wealthy mobiles largely overlap
with the tourist segment which can be segmented into income/wealth categories.
Luxury mobiles fall under luxury consumers segment spending which has grown
signiﬁcantly even during the most recent global ﬁnancial crisis. The total value of
the global luxury segment is estimated to be above $140 billion dollars.
Deﬁning the luxury consumer is open to debate and there is signiﬁcant variety
around the world. In the US, wealthy often represents a total household income of
$500,000 and above. The size of the segment is difﬁcult to assess. However, in
China alone, there is estimated to be about 2.7 million US dollar millionaires. They
tend to travel abroad more often. For example, the average number of trips among
Chinese luxury travellers was 3.1 in 2012 for whom the main destinations were
countries such as US, France, Maldives, UK, and Italy (Hurun 2012).
Typically these luxury consumers are internet savvy and interested in new
technologies. Around three quarters of them are active users of Facebook. They
44 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
like customised products and generally expect their expectation of products and
services offered to be met or exceeded. Among the Chinese super rich, over 60 %
reported travelling as their favourite leisure activity on which they spent close to
one-third of their annual discretionary spending of $277,000 (Hurun 2012). This
represents a very lucrative transnational mobile consumer segment.
3.2.4 Tourists and Visitors
Tourists and visitors are in many ways similar to wealthy mobiles but they are not
as fortunate in terms of wealth. The variety in tourist types makes them suitable for
multiple sub-segments using geo-demographic and psychographic/lifestyle vari-
ables. For example, there are tourists travelling in organised groups as well as
others who make an effort to get off the beaten track. Then there are those who
prefer comfort and central locations with touristic attractions as opposed to others
who prefer to get as far away as possible from home and anything familiar to
immerse into the culture of local people in destinations. These groups spending
patterns differ along with their life styles, desires and wants. A further distinction
can be made between those tourists who are visiting family or friends as their
needs and wants as well as the ways in which these are addressed would vary.
Among tourists there are also groups with a mission. One such group is pilgrims
who are on a journey to a holy place. For instance, every year, around three million
Muslims visit Mecca for Hajj and Umrah and stay there up to 6 weeks. Thousands
of Jewish pilgrims also travel to Jerusalem to pray at the Wailing Wall every year.
Similarly thousands of Christians visit Jerusalem, Virgin Mary’s House, and other
holy sites mentioned in Bible, in a less structured fashion.
A more frequent traveller group is football fans who follow their teams around
continents for glory. Leading football clubs, such as Barcelona FC, Manchester
United, and Real Madrid have fan bases everywhere but their local supporters like
any other team go to their matches in European Champions League and other
tournaments. This may entail about a dozen away games every year and hence
means a signiﬁcant mobility for each fan base. The football fans also travel across
the World for national teams playing at the World Cup. They can be considered as
part of the temporarily mobile consumer segment. These football fans are similar
to non-travelling fans, but they are likely to have a higher income and therefore
would need a range of services and products that non travelling fans wouldn’t.
Sitting in between tourists/visitors and immigrants, there are retirees or elderly
consumers. Sudbury and Simcock (2009), for example, proposed two segments of
the elderly, one of which is Positive Pioneers who constitute 30 % elderly the
population in the UK (about 5.2 million). These are people in their mid-50s,
relatively afﬂuent, healthy, in frequent contact with their families, and they take
most of their holidays abroad. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, the number of
visitors around the world has been on the rise year on year during the recent
decades and in 2012 the total visits per annum exceeded the 1 billion threshold.
3.2 Sub-groups Within Transnational Mobiles 45
Increasingly more and more students are becoming mobile. The European Union
promotes student and academic mobility across 28 member states in the Union.
Internationalisation of the curriculum and transnational education have been
important agenda items. For example the UK Higher Education Academy supports
two special interest groups in these two not so unrelated ﬁelds. University rankings
usually include some direct or indirect indicator on overseas students and praise
institutions with higher proportion of international students. All these create an
environmental impetus so universities forge more and more partnerships with
universities in other countries. For example, Regent’s College, a small private
university in London claims to have about 150 partner institutions around the
Students who can move or beneﬁt from existing mobility schemes typi-
cally spend periods ranging from 4 months to 4 years. However, even those
staying longer periods tend to stay term times only and either travel or return home
for holidays. Often they spend about 9 months in countries where they study. This
is why many of students are not reported as migrants in census statistics.
In the UK, the number of overseas students enrolled in higher education has
grown from around 300,000 in 2005 to over 435,000 in 2012 (HESA 2012; Sirkeci
et al. 2010). Overall, the contribution of these students to economy is estimated to
be in excess of £5 billion (Millar and Salt 2008).
Similar to the university students, there is a sizeable number of young
researchers who are mobile professionals often on some sort of training scheme.
These transnational research staff constitute between 24 to 59 % of the total
number of research staff employed in the UK (Smetherham et al. 2008). Many of
these individuals are at earlier stages of their professional careers and often
working abroad to gain experience with little or no intention to settle.
Both transnational students and research staff are likely to live on limited
budgets and therefore tend to live in shared accommodation. It has implications for
consumption and marketing. For example, in these shared houses, individual
tenants or lodgers likely to use mobile services (e.g. mobile phones and mobile
internet) as these places unlikely to have multiple landlines. As a result, this is a
prime target segment for mobile devices and mobile services.
When we talk about human mobility, immigrants are the ﬁrst category to cross our
minds. This is rightly so as they constitute the largest stable transnational segment.
As mentioned earlier, settled or long-term (i.e. staying more than 12 months)
immigrant population in the world is about 220 million strong. Proﬁles of
46 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
immigrants may differ by countries of origin and destination. International demand
for particular skills and qualiﬁcations as well as shortages determine the compo-
sition. Hence the challenges immigrants face and services and products they need
For example, dominantly Muslim Gulf countries in the Middle East host a large
number of foreign domestic carers as well as contractors. Both occupational cat-
egories combined with the societal and cultural traditions in these countries result
in a signiﬁcant segments of single male contract workers and female carers.
Among both gender groups, there are parents who left their families behind in their
countries of origin. Certain products and services would appeal to these segments,
for example to maintain their long distance family relationships.
Immigrant consumers tend to use their mother tongue at home and are viewers
of ethnic TV channels (Aksoy 2006). Other studies point that ethnic enclaves
emerge and offer economic opportunities to immigrant minorities (see Portes and
Shafer 2006;Zhou2004; Sirkeci 2009; Khattab et al. 2010). Residential con-
centration of ethnic and immigrant minorities is an advantage for marketers when
it comes to reaching these customers and targeting.
This segment is also preyed upon by fraudsters. NICE
in New York, in fact,
supports a campaign run by Urban Justice Centre
against consumer frauds
committed against immigrants by immigration attorneys and employment agencies
that actively target immigrant segment (NICE and GDP 2012). Indeed, immi-
gration services including legal aid, consultancy and public services such as visas,
passports are an untapped ﬁeld of research from a marketing perspective. Perhaps
using Service-Dominant logic, the inner workings of marketing in this sector needs
to be unravelled.
Investigating these consumption processes and patterns as well as marketing
practices, there is a growing literature on immigrant consumers with a focus on a
range of issues including acculturation, identity, assimilation and products, ser-
vices and costs (e.g. Donthu and Cherian 1994; Lee and Tse 1994; Venkatesh
1995; Wang 2004; Webster 1994).
Many studies show that immigration is age and gender selective. Thus, younger
individuals are dominant. This might be true for most but there is also the
retirement migration phenomenon (e.g. Gustafson 2001; Illes 2005). These elderly
transnational mobiles experience multiple place attachment and face cultural
differences between home and retirement destinations while pursuing seasonal
migrations between the two locations for stays typically ranging from a couple of
months to 6 months. Among Swedish transnational elderly mobiles, Gustafson
(2001) identiﬁes three ideal–typical transnational lifestyles: translocal normality,
New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) is a community-based organization and
worker center that helps new immigrants build social, political, and economic power in their
communities and beyond (www.nynice.org).
Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Centre supports grassroots organisa-
3.2 Sub-groups Within Transnational Mobiles 47
multilocal adaptation and routinised sojourning reﬂecting different strategies for
managing cultural differences and mobility patterns.
Alongside retirees targeting better climates and affordable areas in other
countries, there are other sojourners and seasonal workers. Sojourners are those
who move internationally but without aiming to settle. They do stay lengthy
periods and may repeat the sojourn several times over life time. By 1980, nearly
half of Mexican immigrants were estimated to be sojourners, which declined to
around 28 % by 1990 and to about 16 % in the late 1990s (Cornelius and Marcelli
2000, pp. 8–9). These immigrants often aim at saving money as they would have a
project to fund upon their return to home or have a timed need for extra income
such as school fees, wedding expenses etc. It is in the deﬁnition: Sojourners are
‘‘those who, after accumulating a certain amount of money, would return to the
country of origin’’ (Cornelius and Marcelli 2000, p. 15).
Seasonal workers however are a category created by the needs of certain sec-
tors. These people often are employed in agriculture, tourism, and construction
sectors. They move to countries with labour shortages during the peak seasons and
return after. Since these are short-term moves, these individuals and/or families are
likely to have stronger ties with those left behind and therefore their needs for
mobile communication services can be higher. Unlike immigrants, they would not
face much of acculturation pressure. Hence switching behaviour possibly can be
triggered only because of unavailability of certain products and services the sea-
sonal workers used to consume at home. This segment can also serve as carriers of
products and brands between the seasonal work destination and the place of origin.
Due to the nature of work, these people tend to be mostly healthy and young
men and women, depending on the sector. For example, there were about 1.75
million seasonal farm workers in the US (Martin 2013). National Centre for
Farmworker Health Inc. in the US reports
the average age of seasonal migrant
farm workers in the US is 36, more than three quarters of them are males, and
majority are married with children. Only about 30 % can speak English well. Only
about 5 % have health insurance. Thus, for instance, marketers can see here a
Spanish speaking market opportunity for insurance products.
Working holiday makers (WHM) are also often fall into seasonal workers
category. There is a need for seasonal workers in, for example, the tourism sector
in many countries. For example, more than 185,000 working holiday makers
were issued in 2010/11 in Australia and average spending by these holiday
makers was estimated to be over $13,500 (USD) during their stay which can be as
long as 8 months (ATEC 2012). In just two decades, WHM numbers increased 6–7
times, indicating an exponential growth in this particular segment of transnational
mobiles. Tan et al. (2009) describe these transnational mobiles, i.e. WHMs, as well
educated, aged 20–30 years old, travel around for experience, typically stay for
These visas are issued to individuals aged up to 30–35 in Australia, New Zealand, and
48 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
8 months, mostly move around the destination country during their stay, and spend
Finally, there are also those who cross a national border on a daily basis or at
least frequently. These are people living in borderlands such as Ukrainian and
Polish border, Turkish and Iraqi border, Laos and Thailand border. Often these
borders are drawn according to some political and administrative concerns and
divide nations, ethnic groups, and families while also dividing once united market
places. Nevertheless, trade does not necessarily stop. For instance, smuggling of
goods through the mountainous borders between Iran, Iraq, and Turkey has been a
known phenomenon for decades for example. Differences in prices and earnings
on two sides of national borders also facilitates such cross-border activity.
However, what matters is the connectivity and maintained ties between places
which result in continued exchanges and trips. For example, Emre was brought to
Germany at age 8 by his guestworker parents and yet he usually ﬂies to Turkey
once a year while maintaining very good contacts with his relatives in Turkey
(Faist et al. 2013, p. 29). Or it is a transnational mother in the US, who ‘‘is here,
but there’’ taking care of her children in Mexico (Hondagneu and Avila 1997,
Refugees and asylum seekers are a sub-category of immigrant segment. Rela-
tively smaller in size than other migrant categories, they may not be as settled as
others since we have cases where refugees are held as temporary visitors for
decades or asylum seekers living in limbo for extended periods. Nevertheless, they
do maintain their ties across borders and often maintain a transnational lifestyle
where these connections with the country of origin and other Diaspora commu-
nities are vital. Legal statuses of these groups have an impact on their mobility,
their income and thus consumption patterns. For example, some asylum seekers in
certain countries are tied to a location or dispersed around the country with or
without their consent. Also in most cases, they are not allowed to work which
restricts their income and in return spending patterns are determined. ‘‘They often
live in purpose built centres and/or are subject to close monitoring. This bars them
choosing a ‘normal’ life style where they can get land lines, permanent addresses
and have access to a range of communication services’’ (Sirkeci and Mannix
2010). Therefore, a special attention is needed to understand and target these
consumers. As a temporal group, they would have closer ties with their countries
of origin and as their uncertain resident status implies, there is a chance of
immediate and sudden return to home (Gibney 2008).
Undocumented mobiles are another similarly temporal but distinct sub-category
who are often named ‘undocumented’, ‘illegal’, or ‘clandestine’ movers. The size,
location and characteristics of this segment is very difﬁcult to assess. However,
they are believed to be similar to immigrant groups, which implies similar in
consumption patterns while being restricted in terms of mobility patterns and their
access to ofﬁcial, legal services. Some of these are expected to be among other
‘‘documented’’ groups such as some seasonal farm workers are undocumented in
in the US and Germany (Hess 2006). As an unidentiﬁable and hard to assess and
hard to reach group, this may not be a lucrative group to target. However, the
3.2 Sub-groups Within Transnational Mobiles 49
ﬂuidity of undocumented and others is obvious. For example, those individuals
whose visas expire become over-stayers, or undocumented. These are likely to be
part of ethnic and immigrant enclaves and therefore locating them might be
possible. Obviously among the undocumented, there will be a variety in terms of
income and other characteristics. It is very likely many of these will be on low
incomes. The sheer size of the undocumented group makes it appealing. Estimates
often indicate that the undocumented population is larger than the number of
registered immigrants in many countries. Nevertheless, one should always con-
sider ethical and legal implications potentially involved in targeting this group.
Immigrant consumer segments to some extent overlap with minority consumer
segments that were originally created as a result of immigration. Mr Debarshi
Pandit, head of Omnicom Media Group Ethnic in the UK says ‘‘a good chunk of
second-or-third generation ethnic minorities who are well integrated into British
society, still want a link to their ‘own’ culture.’’ Own culture here refers to their
transnational ties to the country(ies) of origin. This particular segment is growing
in many countries such as in the UK. These consumer transnational connectedness
is likely to be higher than the native consumers. For example, an Ofcom (2003)
survey showed that ethnic minority consumers perceive some brands to be dis-
proportionately associated with country of origin and these (Asian) brands
remained strong in the community.
Industry seems not fully targeting these ethnic minority consumers despite the
signiﬁcant size and relatively attractive potential market opportunities. There is a
delicate balance to be maintained when there are tensions among and about ethnic
and minority groups. Marriott hotels saw a strong boycotting campaign in 2008
and since then they are actively targeting these very groups. Although there are
increasingly more and more channels at marketers’ disposal (IPA 2012), it may not
be that easy to segment and target the groups such as minorities, mobiles and
transnationals. It is time to turn to successful segmentation strategies.
Box 1. Minority consumers in the UK
Minority populations in the UK are signiﬁcantly younger than the national
average. Comprised of South Asians, Africans, Caribbeans, and others their
share and geographical spread is increasing. Many of them, such as Indians,
are multiple car owners whilst they live in larger households. They love to
drive a BMW and spend a lot more on hair products as well as consuming
Source: IPA (2012)
50 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
3.3 Segmentation for Transnationals and Mobiles
Marketers paid attention to ethnic minority consumers to tap into a lucrative market,
estimated to be around £300 billion in the UK,
but mobility and movement are
generally missing items in their tool boxes. To identify segments we need to look at
how distinct these are from others while also seeking homogeneity among the
members of the segment. However, there are also other concerns. Earlier studies
(e.g. Bell 1969; Andreasen 1966; Quigley and Weinberg 1977) did not test the
homogeneity but made suggestions about distinguishing long distance mobiles from
short distances mobiles. Therefore spatial mobility as a segmentation base has not
been tested. While Quigley and Weinberg (1977) suggesting intra-urban mobiles as
a distinct segment, Dickson (1981) proved in a role-playing experiment that
mobility status did not inﬂuence the choice between chain stores and local stores.
Wedel and Kamakura (2000, pp. 9–10) divide segmentations bases along the
lines of being observable and unobservable, where segments derived from the
observable bases are believed to be easier to communicate and implement. Seg-
mentation is simply a process of classifying customers into groups. It became an
essential element of marketing in industrialised countries since its introduction by
Smith (1956) as a concept derived from the heterogeneity of customer wants that
need to be satisﬁed more precisely. It is an essential part of the marketers tool box
in effective marketing planning. With precise segmentation, the ﬁrm can come up
with marketing strategies to build the right relationships with the right customers
(Kotler and Keller 2008, p. 410). In today’s increasingly borderless world, internet
and wireless connection technologies are both complicating the process and
offering opportunities. Changes in the market environment such as new develop-
ments in information technology and connectedness across borders provides
marketers a much richer dataset about customers and provides direct access to
customers networks. Hence conventional approaches to segmentation comes under
question (Day and Montgomery 1999). Nevertheless, common segmentation
variables remain useful and multinational companies are interested in segmenting
markets that cut across geographic and administrative boundaries. These variables
include demographic characteristics such as gender, age, education, occupation,
income; geographic characteristics including place of residence, area character-
istics; user and usage dependent categories of behaviour and mixtures.
Wedel and Kamakura (2000) offer a model (Table 3.1) where customers are
broadly divided along the lines of observability and customer/product character-
istics. General variables are independent of products, services and circumstances/
context as opposed to product speciﬁc variables which link both customers, prod-
ucts and the context and circumstances of consumption. Then the other axis is based
on whether one can measure these variables directly (observable) or indirectly
(unobservable). Among the general variables, marketers can identify segments such
This seems an overestimation compared to what Sirkeci (2009) claims (i.e. £30 bn) but the
point is to show that there is signiﬁcant market.
3.3 Segmentation for Transnationals and Mobiles 51
as upper middle class (i.e. demographic) or multi-racial areas or ‘‘boomers and
babies (i.e. geo-demographic) who go jogging, have a mortgage, watch MTV, read
Sunset [magazine] and are into personal computing’’ (Wedel and Kamakura 2000,
p. 243). Rogers’ (1962, cited in Wedel and Kamakura 2000, p. 10) classiﬁcation
based on stage of adoption is an example of product speciﬁc and observable
variables. Psychographic segmentation would consider values, lifestyle choices and
personality characteristics as well as consumer perceptions. For instance, needs
based segmentation, where marketers group customers based on what they want to
do, would fall under product-speciﬁc unobservable category (Greengrove 2002).
Marketers can consider an inﬁnite number of combinations taking into account
various features and factors within the four categories of variables (Table 3.1). Not
all segments and everybody are potential customers and therefore strategic choices
have to be made. Therefore, every organisation works on virtually unique seg-
mentation framework. For instance, three quarters of the pharmaceutical compa-
nies in the UK segmented the market by end use, purchase volume, purchasing
situations, and price sensitivity (Weinstein 2004, pp. 8–9). However, segmentation
categories need to be evaluated against the successful segmentation criteria.
Successful segments should be measurable in size, purchasing power and other
characteristics, large enough to be viable and proﬁtable if targeted, easy to reach
and distinguishable (Hill and O’Sullivan 2004, p. 165). Wind (1978) underlined
the importance of homogeneity and the need for segmentation, that is whether it
can be targeted as a whole. Taking on board Wind and others, Wedel and Ka-
makura (2000) proposed six criteria to assess segments. Accordingly, segments
should be measurable and distinguishable from others (identiﬁability),stable over
time, and large enough to generate proﬁts (substantiality). Potential segments
proposed within the transnational mobility framework are seemingly identiﬁable
Table 3.1 General and product speciﬁc segmentation variables. Adapted from Wedel and Ka-
Cultural, geographic, demo-
graphic and socio -economic
variables: e.g. mobile or not
Psychographics, values, per-
sonality and life-style: e.g.
User status, usage frequency,
store loyalty and patronage,
situations: e.g. forced to
switch due to unavailability
perceptions, elasticities, at-
tributes, preferences, inten-
tion: e.g. tend to switch-less
52 3 Mobility and the Transnationals
and stable (although this appears ironic with our focus on mobility and move-
ment). Many of the sub segments such as wealthy mobiles or transnational pro-
fessionals should be reasonably proﬁtable. Access to mobile broadband across
world regions are presented in Table 3.2. This is a service area of particular
interest to transnational mobile consumers and it indirectly shows the proportion
of individuals who might be in need of internet connection when on the move.
Hence it is clear that there are substantial markets in Europe and North America
where the access rates are as high as 54 %.
‘‘Accessibility is the degree to which managers are able to reach the targeted
segments through promotional and distributional efforts’’ which is closely linked
to distributional challenge coverage (Wedel and Kamakura 2000, p. 4). For
instance, the elderly segment of Positive Pioneers mentioned earlier can be
accessed through magazines, the Internet, and television (Sudbury and Simcock
2009). Highly mobile business executives can be reached, for example, through
publications targeting business class travellers.
Responsiveness means segments, which are homogeneous, must respond
uniquely to marketing efforts targeted at them. For example Dubois et al. (2005)
identiﬁed three segments in 20 countries in terms of consumers attitude towards
luxury: Democratic, distance, and elitist. Each group span across national borders:
for example, the democratic group is comprised of Danish, New Zealanders,
Dutch, and Norwegians as opposed to the distance segment which is dominated by
Italians, Portuguese and Spanish.
The sixth criterion is Actionability. Segments should be devised as such so the
company can proﬁtably and effectively formulate a marketing mix which will
satisfy the needs of the target segment. Basically, the segment should be attractive
for the ﬁrm and the requirements to address the segment’s needs should match the
resources and capabilities of the ﬁrm. In a cross border setting, actionability
becomes a key criteria as not many companies are able to serve at this transna-
tional level. It requires additional resources as well as managerial vision.
Firms need to identify segments for their own market needs. A mobile service
company (AxisMobile 2007) came up with three distinct segments taking into
account their mobility proﬁles along with some other demographic and lifestyle
features: ‘‘Professional super parents’’ who are professional and busy in constant
need of mobile internet while moving around mostly locally for business.
Table 3.2 Active mobile
broadband subscriptions per
100 inhabitants, 2011
The Americas 30.49
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 14.93
Arab states 13.25
Asia and Paciﬁc 10.74
Source (ITU 2007)
3.3 Segmentation for Transnationals and Mobiles 53
‘‘SOHO’’ is the second group who does not have much to invest in infrastructure
and need to travel for their, often small, businesses such as accountants and
consultants; the third group is named ‘‘Golden age’’ referring to tech-aware
grandparents who spend several months away from home on travelling or staying
in holiday homes. These segments seem viable and attractive to offer mobile email
services offered by this ﬁrm.
Some transnational mobile segments would meet the above criteria. Cosmo-
politans, for instance, are immigrants and their descendants characterised by
multicultural backgrounds and large families living in multi-ethnic neighbour-
hoods in urban US (Claritas 2008). Cosmopolitan consumer is ‘‘a world citizen—a
consumer whose orientation transcends any particular culture or setting’’ and they
are ‘‘unfettered by the biases of their home culture’’ (Cannon and Yaprak 2002,
p. 30). When immigrants or mobile populations became part of a segment,
mobility or movement becomes an important variable. The difﬁculty here is the
fact that mobile people (migrants and commuters alike) are likely to have multiple
reference points guiding their behaviour. This is one reason why international
companies are recommended to direct their efforts at customer characteristics
rather than country characteristics where degree of cosmopolitan orientation
among customers is identiﬁed as a powerful segmentation base, reﬂecting what
drives consumers’ tastes and preferences (Rieﬂer et al. 2011). These are typical
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