Starbucks Company is a renowned American firm established in Seattle in 1971 (Haskova 2015, p. 11). The firm is a world known retailer, marketer, and roaster of specialty coffee. It has about 19, 767 stores spread across the globe with 182, 000 staff (Haskova 2015, p. 11). The firm’s product mix includes handcrafted and roasted quality tea, coffee and other beverages, and it also sells tea and coffee products. Starbucks license its trademarks via different channels such as grocery and licensed stores (Haskova, 2015, p. 12). Through various innovation strategies, the company has expanded successfully into the international markets. The focus will be on the Starbucks’ global marketing and how it has successfully stayed ahead of its competitors.
One of the players in the coffee sector is the Starbuck Company. Starbuck is aware of the stiff competition from other players in the industry; hence it is well prepared to handle it. According to Neelankavil and Rai (2014, p. 148) to determine and understand the situation of the firm in the beverage industry, it is significant to examine quantitatively and qualitatively the current marketing strategy. Effective analysis of strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of Starbucks will highlight its negative and positive feedback.
Starbucks has achieved a lot to assist the firm not only grow but also expand into an international business powerhouse that it is today. It employs a strategy called quality differentiation, which makes it focus on pleasing its clients. Starbucks introduced the Digital Network and wireless Internet with the objective of providing its customers with a better experience (Mourdoukoutas 2013, p. 1). The firm also wanted to boost its sales and improve on its previous financial performances. They hold on the premises that if customers stay longer at the cafeteria, they are likely to purchase more food, beverages. Also, since Starbucks has a variety of online stores due to partnership with Digital Network, customers have the option to purchase music. The firm will sell its music and other kinds of media via its wireless Internet. For example, following the introduction of the wireless Internet, the firm’s sales increased by 4%. Therefore, the wireless Internet is one of the key assets to the company (Koch 2001, p. 352).
Another major strategic asset is the firm’s entry into the India market. India is characterized by middle and upper classes and growing economy. Therefore, the company will be able to attract more Indian clients to the specialty coffee. The country has more propensity for the firm’s products as it is becoming more industrialized. The Chinese community has started to embrace the trendy styles (Paryani, 2011, p. 5).
The coffee shop also gained entry into China and focused on growth potential that the country enjoys in terms of sales. With growth in China, the firm would be able to compete with McDonald as it expands its business. Presently, China aims to be the biggest coffee market leading other nations such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan. This is a vivid indication that the firm would witness a significant rise in profit. Additionally, the company adopted a transnational strategy, which has enabled it to achieve a lot.
To clearly understand how the firm is performing in the industry, it is important to examine the statistics. Starbucks has experienced fluctuations in stock price. In 2007, the firm’s stock price was $35. Consequently, in 2009, it reduced to $10 and in 2011 it was $30. The 2009 and 2008 economic crisis impacted negatively on the firm’s stock price (Haskova, 2015, p. 13). The best lesson from the mentioned is that Starbuck handled the loss. Presently, the firm has focused on ensuring that its stock price remains high. Even though the company’s stock price reduced during the financial crisis, its net revenue remained stable. The firm’s profit shot from $78 to $10 billion between 2006 and 2008. However, in 2007 the profit was reported at $9.8 billion and increased to $10.7 billion two years later. The economic crisis that impacted on many companies and made them incur losses did not dampen the firm’s revenue. Citing Koch (2001, p. 353), if a company that can pull through the strongest financial crisis and reports stronger stock price, is a clear indication that it can survive in any form of financial storms. The coffee shop has also continued to expand in the last years. Despite facing different challenges, it has maintained its growth and revenue.
In 25th October, 1995, the international speciality coffee shop, Starbucks made another international venture. The firm entered into an agreement with the Sazaby Inc., which is a Japanese restaurant and retailer. The objective was to establish various Starbucks stores across Japan (Thomson 2009, P. 338). The joint partnership was called Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. The establishment was strong because it combined key lifestyle firms, which would offer Japanese customers with unique and new speciality coffee experiences. Through the same partnership, in 1996, the firm established another store in Tokyo in the Ginza Shopping. This was the first retail store outside Europe and North America. However, since then, the company has opened additional 368 stores across Japan.
Japan is important part of the firm’s expansion strategy in the international market. This is because Japan is among the largest coffee consuming nations worldwide (Thomson 2009, P. 338). It is third behind United States and Germany. Japan is ideal for business because it is one of the best performing economies in the Pacific Rim.
In the last years, the demands for different blends of coffee have increased in Japan. However, speciality blends are highly in demand. The Japanese consumers have taken into coffee at the same rate as milk. Paryani, (2011, p. 9) Starbuck settled on Japan as its international market because it’s the third largest coffee consumer globally. The firm doubled its stores outlets. In 2001, the number of Starbucks’ stores in Japan was 286, and it further expects to open more in the near future. The stores provide similar menu as that of U.S stores, but the portions are different. It uses names such as Grande and tall just like in the U.S Starbuck stores. The entire Japanese stores use the firm’s logo and trademark décor. Additionally, the Japanese clients can buy the firms packaged food, coffee beans, fresh sandwiches and pastries and coffee-making machines.
A SWOT analysis is another significant tool that can be used to examine the firm’s success at international level. In the coffee sector, Starbucks enjoys a lot of success. It is the leader in the coffee market. As per the 2010 fiscal year reports, the firm had about 16,858 stores across the country (Haskova, 2015, p. 12). Additionally, the company has registered rapid pace in its growth both locally and internationally. The firm is mostly opening international stores and less of domestic ones. Consequently, the firm is financially strong and this was evident during the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis. Despite the stock price fluctuating, the net profits remained stable during the entire period. Additionally, the firm has a consumer friendly atmosphere and provides quality products and services. This has made it create a brand among its consumers.
Even though the coffee shop has numerous strengths, there are also weaknesses. The firm’s products are expensive compared to other competing stores. For example, McDonald’s utilizes the firm’s high prices as its marketing strategy. More than 75% of the firm’s profit is, particularly from the specialty beverages. It can be pointed out that an increase in coffee prices will result in a direct impact on products of Starbucks. However, McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts importantly focus on food and then coffee (Barnea 2011, p. 80). The mentioned are exempted from being vulnerable to the increasing coffee prices (Koch 2001, p. 354). The weaknesses do not outweigh the company’s strength. Therefore, it is a sound and strong firm.
It is also essential to examine the opportunities that the company enjoys. Starbucks has different opportunities in the coffee sector, and this has made to compete favorably in the market. The major opportunity is the international market. In nations with growing economies, such as Malta, Maldives, Seychelles and Croatia there are ever expanding middle and upper classes markets that are ready to spend their earnings on the specialty coffee. The nations are increasingly industrialized (Koch 2001, p. 354). In addition, the firm is expanding its tastes. Brazil is one of the largest coffee consumers in the world. India is also growing and is increasingly embracing the coffee sector. With entry to India, the company has high expectations of succeeding. Business people have shifted their interest and embraced coffee. Additionally, Starbucks entered into an agreement with Tata Coffee, which is based in India (Haskova, 2015, p. 13). This is a good opportunity for the company because it enables it to access more coffee. Additionally, with increased prices in the coffee products, because of increased cost of production, it will be recommendable for the company to increase sales of coffee internationally. The company can also permeate other nations such as Croatia, Malta, Seychelles and Maldives in the future with the objective of expanding its market further. The mentioned nations have immense growth opportunities.
Another strategy that is important in examining the firm’s expansion in the international market is a threat. One of the threats that Starbuck faces is competition. McDonald is the major competitor of Starbucks. According to Neelankavil and Rai (2014, p. 152), McDonald has focused on opening cafeterias across Europe. Therefore, the competitor is likely to reduce the geographical advantage that Starbuck is enjoying.
The firm has better opportunities compared to threats. The firm has a unique atmosphere and environment that competitors cannot copy. Therefore, it will be crucial for the firm to utilize numerous existing opportunities. However, it should uphold high-quality standards for it to succeed. The firm will always experience threats but it will tackle them well (Koch 2001, p. 359).
From the situational analysis of Starbucks, it is evident that the company is stable and it would be successful in the future. This is because it has strong quantitative and qualitative strategy. The firm’s plan is implementable. Besides, Starbucks is stable financially. Despite, going through a financial crisis that impacted negatively on different companies, its net profit was not affected. Based on the information from the SWOT analysis, it is evident that the firm is sound both externally and internally. However, it is crucial to understand the company’s present situation before examining how it competes in the international front. According to Neelankavil and Rai (2014, p. 149), it is impossible for a sound company to compete in the international environment because of the pressures associated with it. The firm has strong global strategy and mindset.
The firm has tackled competitors in the coffee industry and remained top in the international market, and its expansion in Japan has not been exceptional.
One of the company’s strategic imperatives is realizing greater markets and expanding internationally. The firm’s most motivation is to expand international and access larger markets. According to (Paryani 2011, p. 8), crossing national borders assist in overcoming fear and encouraging cross-border integration. The firm uses a variety of joint ventures and alliances with the objective of expanding to other markets outside Canada and United States. The joint ventures and alliances enable the firm not only to understand the market but also expand its products range. For example, in 1996, there was a partnership between the firm and Pepsi cola. Through the partnership, the two companies sold bottled products at convenience and grocery stores. The mentioned is one of the ventures, which enabled the firm’s capabilities and products to expand into the international market. With more consumers efficiently accessing Starbuck products, its market scope also expanded. The firm’s main objective is to portray itself as the premier provider of specialty coffee across the globe. Therefore, Starbucks is an efficient multinational firm and has the right means, mentalities, and motivations to succeed.
Starbucks agenda is to be the largest player in the coffee sector. However, it is not ready to compromise its morals in realizing its goals. The firm wants to maintain all the ethical standards and remain an environmental leader. The firm’s management also seeks to ensure that the business exhibits high standards that are beyond reproach, particularly in the international market. To preserve the environment, the firm has focused on promoting fair coffee trade. Koch (2001, p. 353) defines fair coffee as a mode through which peasant farmers get economical and sustainable rates for their products and extra money that they can utilize to improve their businesses and the community as a whole. This protects the farmers from the exploitative huge coffee firms. For instance, the Fairtrade certified coffee market showed tremendous growth that was reported at 18%. This was because of the firm’s role in fair trade coffee. The increase in both production and sale of fair-trade coffees help all the farmers across the globe. It is crucial for Starbucks to play a great role in social responsibility. This would make sure that Starbucks does not exploit the peasant farmers. Presently, the company prides itself as the world’s leader in the production of fair trade coffee. Therefore, citing Thompson and Arsel (2004, p. 635), an increase in production is likely to stay ahead of its competitors in the market. The firm’s products might be expensive. However, Starbucks is heavily contributing to the economic betterment and improving people’s lives all over the world. The firm’s consumers should take the mentioned into consideration while they are visiting the specialty coffee shop.
Another key strategy that Starbucks adopted is product differentiation. It has focused on providing differentiators such as locations, product mix, coffee beverages supremacy and quality customer care services. This enabled the firm to build a premium brand that proved costly for the competitors to imitate. The firm has also focused on smart acquisitions and strategic alliance. The firm did not adopt the traditional franchising models common with coffee firms but instead invested in joint ventures and company oriented stores in both domestic and international markets. The firm made significant acquisitions such as Bay Breads, Teavana, and Evolution Fresh (Thompson and Arsel 2004, p. 636). This strategy has made the firm to enjoy a competitive advantage in the international market.
Moreover, the firm focused on obtaining a global competitive advantage. The company features multinational flexibility, and this has enabled it to successful tackle all the managerial risks that interfere with its operations. One of the risks is the ready availability of quality coffee beans more than the demands. To maintain a supply of high standard coffee in 2001, Starbucks initiated a supplier program with the objective of attracting and rewarding all coffee farmers who are committed to practicing environmental friendly farming (Thompson and Arsel 2004, p. 640). The program attracted a large percentage of farmers because they were assured of good pay. Additionally, the program issued the farmers with incentives that motivated them to continue growing and supplying coffee to Starbucks. The good payment also helped them to develop economically. The company further promoted global learning. It is important to note that cultural differences are common. Nonetheless, there are cultural similarities that can assist in determining new trends across the world.
A better understanding of the international market is another effective strategy that Starbucks has employed. The firm has to expand its operations globally so as to grow the business. Additionally, because of the need for stronger and greater domestic and international markets, the firm has successfully expanded into more than 43 nations (Simmons 2012, p. 70). All the nations that the firm has expanded into have their own cultural practices. It is impossible for the firm to overcome the different cultures without using joint ventures to assist tackle some of the challenges associated with growing internationally. For example in Japan, the firm has opened about 700 stores. Thus, without embracing joint venture with a Japanese firm, which accepted it to obtain cultural understanding, Starbucks could not have succeeded in its international operations. Every culture is characterized by its unique beliefs and values, which affects the products it buys and sells. The firm conducted an intensive research in every country that it gained entry into. This ensured not only its ability but also success to expand into different and difficult regions and nations. Furthermore, the company appreciated the necessity of local responsiveness and differentiation in Japan. Despite the fact that Starbucks focuses on developing core products, it is open to trying new products. It aims to produce unique products based on geographic areas due to different cultural values and tastes accompanying them. The firm is also ready to respond to different cultural and environmental factors. This has helped to grow as an international firm since its first establishment in Seattle (Koch 2001, p. 355).
3A. International Marketing Recommendations
In any international business set up, there are usually organizational challenges. Therefore, it is important for the firm to learn how to manage flexibility, integration, and responsiveness. Starbucks gained entry by acquisition or joint venture of different national firms. The company further holds an administrative heritage. This enables it to prosper in different geographic areas and cultures. Starbuck further strives to provide quality customer service and products that can transcend culture and language. However, it realizes that its local and international success is not titled to them. Most firms fail in their operations because of entitlement. Starbucks realized that it has to have a good reputation in every new community and culture. However, investment in knowledge is what makes Starbucks succeed in its operations. Starbucks further partners with the principal players. This has assisted it in its global expansion and success (Thompson and Arsel 2004, p. 636). The firm further banks on its employees to obtain customer information and new ideas. Every Starbucks store provides feedback to the main hub to assist with company’s success. It is possible for the company to break down the similarities and differences existing in markets because it divides the world into regions or nations. This makes it possible for the firm to be responsive and flexible to the changing wants and needs of its customers, hence overcome major organizational challenges.
Another organizational obstacle that the firm is likely to face is creating global learning and innovation via cross-regional knowledge management. The firm realizes this through a relationship with suppliers, customers, employees and alliance partners (Simmons 2012, p. 75). The relationship between Starbucks and its suppliers remain the best in the coffee sector. The firm also encourages global learning. Every a person feels that his/her work ethic and opinion is essential for firm’s success. This makes every individual responsible for the failure or success of the company. The headquarters of the company is known as Starbucks Support Center that reflects the function of the central management as a support and information provider. According to Simmons (2012, p. 76) via regionalizing and decentralization of the decision-making process, the company is capable of developing customized patterns for every store. It assists the firm’s managers not only to know but also understand the developed patterns and their relevance to the geographic regions of operations. The company has close ties with all of its corporate teams that enable all of its stores to maintain their unique values as well as distinctions, which is reflected throughout the firm’s stores (Thompson and Arsel 2004, p. 636). Consequently, via Starbucks strong relationship and decentralized structure, the company has incorporated core values and this has enabled it to attain global innovation and learning.
Businesses also find it difficult to participate in the cross-border collaboration. However, Starbucks is always careful in deciding on the kinds of firms it partners with while entering new markets. Through various strategies that include joint ventures, licensing, and global partnerships, the company has successfully gained entry into new markets. The firm opts to leverage its brand via different alliances with the objective of selling its specialty coffee and developing new products using Starbucks name. The company’s strong brand also enables enjoy the power and upper hand; hence leverage in all forms of negotiations with other firms. Additionally, the company uses the alliances with the objective of creating new and innovative products, which it might fail to realize solely. The firm is also informed about what it wants to achieve with the strategic alliances. For example, Starbucks establishes an alliance with partners with corporate cultures, sufficient human resource, finances or shared values. The firm has uncompromising standards and previous experience, and this has ensured its successful operations. The company entered into an agreement with other stores such as the Kraft Foods Inc. (Haskova 2015, p. 12). Therefore; it gave the Kraft Foods an opportunity to avail its products to grocery stores. This had made Starbucks products to be available across North America. Because the firm had a clear idea of the attributes it is seeking from the partners, it has been successful in its partnership deals. Starbucks was ready to examine the negatives and positives of the alliance and settle on the benefits of the alliance towards the firm’s successful operations. Hence if Kraft Foods Inc. lacked similar goals and corporate culture as Starbucks, the firm would not have partnered with it. Starbucks successfully established regional border collaboration, and this made it not only to expand but also grow (Paryani, 2011, p. 7).
The Managerial Implications
There are a variety of managerial implications associated with international business, and this includes a firm being in a position to implement a strong and effective strategy. Starbuck adopted new marketing strategy, instead of simply focusing on advertising and marketing. The company’s employees were the brand communicators (Zahra, Ireland and Hitt 2000, p. 926). Therefore, instead of spending a lot on advertising, it focused on the employees. This made the employees work hard and promote the firm’s brand. The company further strived to establish a close personal relationship with all of its consumers. Additionally, via the established personal relationships, the corporation successfully gained a consistent and strong relationship, which maintained its different brands. Another factor that contributed to the firm’s success in the international market is a knowledgeable employee base. Starbucks ensures that every store takes part in the training programs, shows product expertise and is committed towards the company’s success.
Another significant success factor for any international corporation is digesting the significance of diversity. The firm pays attention to diversity as a corporation. This is because it holds that diversity involves similarities and differences in pursuit of personal relationships and innovations on a daily basis (Zahra, Ireland and Hitt 2000, p. 926). The diversity that the firm embraces enables it not only to change but also grow in a variety of ways. In diverse groups, it is easy to come up with innovations and ideas compared to when asymmetric clones are embraced. Quarterly, the firm’s geographic areas hold meetings to discuss improvement and changes that the firm should make. The company also enables all of its managers to formulate and implement decisions based on geographical segments and share the outcome at the corporate level. The mentioned promotes open communication and collaboration between the regional offices and the central base. The firm further has different regional managers, and this enables them to make decisions interdependently. Furthermore, the firm’s employees can make independent decisions and on behalf of Starbucks become empowered business persons. Therefore, the company builds effective international managers via diversity, geographic boundaries and effective personal relationships for product management (Neelankavil & Rai 2014, p. 150).
Starbucks is an international firm that aims to be a renowned leader in the coffee sector. However, its marketing strategies need standardization. Starbucks does not advertise in print media, radio or TV instead relies on word of mouth (Neelankavil & Rai 2014, p. 148). Additionally, the firm has not only developed but also perfected the use of social media. The company used Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram other social media platforms to market its products via promotional offers and competitions for its clients. Neti (2011, p. 6) argues that the success of the firm particularly in the social media platforms is because of movements such as anti-Starbucks. This is because criticisms result in heightened coverage of the brand’s name, enabling Starbucks not only to counter the labelled negative criticism but also promote their ethical standards. The firm utilizes social platforms to interact and motivate customers. Additionally, it gives various rewards to all of its loyal clients via one of its programs known as My Starbucks Reward. It also uses polls to promote crowdsourcing (Koch 2001, p. 355). Through this, Starbucks demonstrates loyalty towards its customers, and change them into brand ambassadors.
In the event of an economic decline, a corporate has to make decisions on whether or not to be responsiveness, stagnation or exploitation place. For several years, the company has not only maintained a strong balance sheet but also generated sufficient cash even in the event of an economic crisis. Consequently, even though the firm’s stock share prices fluctuated during the economic crisis, it regained and remained a stable corporation due to its business practices and strong business ethics. It strives to ensure that its clients receive quality products and customer care services (Haskova 2015, p. 14). Starbucks has also invested heavily in the community because it perceives it as one of the major contributors to its success. For example, in 2015, the company had an objective of spending approximately one million hours on providing community service. Even in the event of the economic crisis, the firm still focuses on investing and assisting in community prosperity. Starbucks could have taken advantage of the community it serves but decided against it. Therefore, the firm goes beyond its mandate for its clients.
Most business face struggles and obstacles in the international market and Starbucks has not been an exception. However, it has managed the obstacles successfully and emerged stronger. This is because the firm has focused on particular strategic imperatives such as having an effective understanding of the international market, expansion abroad and devising transnational strategies. Starbucks has successfully tackled organizational issues such as establishing global learning and innovation, participating in cross-border collaboration and adopting transnational organization. Starbucks has proven that it is resilient and strong. However, even the strongest firms have areas to improve in (Zahra, Ireland and Hitt 2000, p. 930).
People and Place
Consequently, even though it has to expand in the foreign nations, it has to consider the cultural differences and social norms of other regions or countries. Additionally, it is important for Starbucks to consider the market to sell its products. Tea is a preferred specialty for countries such as Britain (Haskova 2015, p. 20). However other such as Mormon will not consume coffee or tea because of their heritage and religious affiliations. Therefore, if the firm wants to broaden its international market scope, it should conduct intensive research on different regions, countries or communities.
Through product diversification and economical pricing, Starbucks can succeed further into both domestic and international markets. Starbucks is recognized for its high standard teas, specialty coffees, and other appetizers (Haskova 2015, p. 20). It should consider offering other products such as desserts. The firm has gained a lot financially. Nonetheless, it is important to note that trends change with time just like the latest fashions in the market. In the event of another financial crisis, the firm’s coffee will not be a priority, because people need to pay rent or focus on basic needs. The firm should be preferred for another economic crisis eventuality.
More importantly, the company should expand its international markets for a stable economic base. Expansion of the geographic base will promote its growth. The U.S has attained its limit for not only expansion but also growth (Barnea 2011, p. 82). Despite this other parts of the world still, register a wider range of opportunities and customers. There are different regions that Starbucks has not ventured into such as Malta, Maldives, Seychelles and Croatia if it conducts research as well as explore other new nations, then it will grow exponentially in the future. BRIC countries will play a crucial role in the company’s future growth, and prosperity. This is because the countries have large populations that consume coffee. Therefore, it would be recommendable for the firm to portray strong market presence in the mentioned nations. Additionally, an undertaking of new nations and regions will enable the firm to enjoy a competitive advantage in the coffee industry. By establishing new stores in the nations, which the firm is currently operating in, Starbucks can further expand in the international markets without investing in research. The firm has an effective and exemplary international business strategy. However, it has to focus on building its expectations and goals.
Starbucks is an expanding and strong international firm. It is evident that the corporation is enjoying a stable niche in the coffee sector and promising environmental as well as strategic goals. The firm still has the potential of expanding in the international markets. Even though more than half of its stores are still local, there is a possibility of the number of the foreign stores increasing. Therefore, international business should copy Starbucks business model. The firm customizes its products to meet the cultural and local needs of different communities and regions. Starbucks adopted a transnational business strategy, which enables enjoy a universal product across all stores. The firm further boasts of a corporate learning system that allows its management and employees to obtain new knowledge and techniques of marketing its products both nationally and internationally. The study also examined the managerial and organizational implications associated with international business. However, Starbucks has adopted various strategic measures to overcome the obstacles. One issue that the firm still needs to focus is its ability to understand the mechanics of the global market. Prior to entering into the foreign region, it is recommendable for a firm to understand and appreciate other people’s culture. Even though the firm already has stores in Japan, it can still establish additional ones.
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