IBM Global Services started up its global branding campaign first in Canada and the U.K. A global ketchup ad from H.J. Heinz Co. tested in Albany, N.Y.; Kansas City, Kan.; and in Canada. Mars Inc. debuted its cat-fancied ads in the U.K. before export to the U.S.
Procter & Gamble Co. tested Dryel in Columbus, Ohio, and in Ireland. And although its Oil of Olay cosmetics tested in Evansville, Ind. for more than four years, it was results from a U.K. launch last year that convinced P&G to roll the product out domestically.
As a result, marketing managers used to analyzing the minutest consumer peculiarities are concluding that it is a small world after all.
"The more that we truly explore consumers on a global basis, the more we find that they're really more alike than they are dissimilar," said Laura King, brand manager for Swiffer, an electrostatic mop and cleaning cloth P&G tested in the U.S. and France on the way to a global rollout in July.
That's also what Heinz found with its $50 million, teen-oriented ketchup campaign that tested in Canada and is rolling worldwide with only minor creative tweaks.
"The way teens approached Heinz isn't that different across geographies," said Casey Keller, VP-meal enhancement. "What they did with it wasn't that different." The primary adaption Heinz and its agency, Leo Burnett Co., are making when the effort moves into 75 countries is to customize the food teens are pouring the ketchup over, whether it be hot dogs, pasta or hamburgers, depending upon primary usage in the local market.
IBM LOOKS OVERSEAS TOO
Package-goods marketers aren't the only ones testing overseas. When IBM Global Services found it had relatively low awareness of the consulting and technology services side of the organization, it tested a new branding campaign in Canada and the U.K. in April 1998, before rolling it out in the U.S., where the unit does roughly half its business, in January.
IBM ruled out a global or U.S. rollout without a test because of the financial risk, said Phil Juliano, VP-marketing of the Global Services unit. But test marketing in cities didn't make sense for a business that's national in scope, he said.
The common concept for the campaign from Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, is to feature real Global Services consultants and technicians. But the executions can easily be customized, Mr. Juliano added, since each country's campaign features employees who actually work there.
The rise in global testing is in part a testimony to the increasingly global nature of the players involved. For P&G, for instance, increased global testing dovetails with a move to global brand and category management under the current Organization 2005 restructuring and its new emphasis on speeding global results from new-product launches.
Testing overseas may be cheaper in many cases than testing in the U.S., said Burt Flickinger, consultant with Reach Marketing, and allows companies such as P&G and IBM to test products or ads in relative secrecy from less-global competitors, which he said are better equipped to track competitive tests within the U.S.
Rivals, however, may not be the only ones that have more trouble getting overseas test data.
IRI EXPANDS IN EUROPE
Noting the increase in global testing, Information Resources Inc., a leading new-product and ad concept testing service in the U.S., has been working to expand its presence in Europe.
But scanner data isn't always as easy to get overseas as in the U.S., an IRI spokesman said. U.K. retailers, for instance, charge seven times what U.S. retailers do for data and are reluctant to release chain-level and store-level data for fear of jeopardizing their strong private-label businesses, he said.
Even so, global testing of new products is a trend that's likely to grow, said Tom Vierhile, president of new-product tracking service Market Intelligence Service.
"Tastes are converging," Mr. Vierhile said. "The world is getting smaller partly