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Jennifer Marks

Lost in Translation

July 25, 2011

Carrefour is having a spot of trouble in China.

The government has fined the hypermarket for claiming that the original prices on discounted merchandise were actually higher than they turned out to have been. Eleven of its 180 units have been fined $76,000 each.

I guess the Chinese just don't appreciate the good old-fashioned, Western style of flim-flammery we call marketing.
A manufacturing executive in India, talking about his country's retailing industry recently, observed: "You have sales every month. We have them two or three times a year."

India's government is now preparing to open the door to outside retail giants, albeit with a bevy of strict rules. It will be interesting to see if promotional posturing is restricted or regulated.

I started covering retailing nearly 20 years ago. At the time there was a great deal of concern about whether retailers were training customers to shop only for sale items.
We all know how that turned out.

Three U.S. retail chains - Macy's, Williams-Sonoma Inc. and Crate & Barrel - are now making their way into the international market aboard multi-lingual, multi-national, multi-currency ecommerce platforms. They'll surely experience some bumps along the way, but what they learn from consumers around the world will no doubt influence the designs and types of products they eventually will develop for the home market.

It can be troubling to look at the International Monetary Fund projections that show share of U.S. GDP in the global marketplace declining as developing nations arise. But those ballooning BRIC figures also represent opportunity.

Somebody's going to sell to these new consumers. Why not you?