Personally, one of the most exciting challenges of this project was developing a marketing strategy for a culture that was entirely different and new to me. As business students and marketing majors (myself included), we have a tendency to think we have it all figured out: run a Five Forces, do a SWOT, NPV, find the competitive advantage, differentiate, add in some other random b-school buzzwords, and poof! You’re done! Looking back, it is hilarious how off-base we were in our analysis and our approach to our analysis while doing our preliminary work back in the US.
In country, we quickly realized how much of what we knew (or thought we knew) about business- marketing in particular- was not useful. How do you market a product to someone who has very little disposable income (and a high month- to month variance on what disposable income they do have), no television, no computer, and limited mobile capabilities? On top of all that, how do you reach consumers who have a completely different perspective on consumerism with different priorities, characteristics, and personalities, and entirely different outlooks on life, culture, and sense of self than what we we know as Westerners?
It has been a humbling learning experience to apply our knowledge and test it against an unfamiliar market.