Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine American multinational corporations' (MNC's) web site standardization in Poland and the Czech Republic. The theoretical framework was adopted from global marketing strategy (GMS) theory, which focuses on three primary strategies: strategy to create a uniform brand image; strategy to appeal to cross‐border segments; and strategy to express culturally bound meaning. To this end, MNCs are posited to pursue the standardization of corporate visual components and web site functions, and the localization of textual information. Design/methodology/approach – Using web site content analysis techniques, the similarity between the home (US) and host (Polish or Czech) sites is evaluated, and the existence of web site functions in each site is coded. As a secondary reference point, German sites are also examined. Two native coders per country are employed, and the reliability scores are deemed to be satisfactory. Multivariate analyses, including a multiple discriminant analysis and a multiple correspondence analysis, were applied to test the principal thesis of the study. Findings – The findings suggest that American MNCs tend to apply a high level of visual components in Polish and Czech sites. However, the level of standardization in textual messages is notably low. Specifically, it appears that the textual information in Polish sites is highly localized – despite their uniform visuals, in the same manner as German sites. In addition, MNCs use web site functions in Polish sites to a similar extent to their home US sites, but to a much lesser extent in Czech sites. Originality/value – The findings of this study make an important contribution to the literature, electronic commerce research in this region is extremely scarce. In addition, the theoretical framework, based on GMS theory, appears to be a useful stepping‐stone in this area. Along with recent findings in international advertising standardization, this study also provides unique evidence that European integration affects firms' marketing standardization strategy, not only offline, but also in the online marketing environment.
European Journal of Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 14, 2008
Keywords: Multinational companies; European Union; Integration; Marketing communications; Standardization; Worldwide web
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