Thursday, 6 August 2015

Why don’t the Germans follow cricket?

The start the fourth test got my thinking about two of my previous positions – one as Deputy Director General of the German-British Chamber and the other as Marketing Manager for The Lord’s Taverner’s – cricket’s charity. You may think this was a bit of a career change but I can see parallels between the two environments.

I know that there are many Germans who do indeed like playing and watching cricket. But I am surprised it’s not more popular in Germany, after all, it’s a game that complements the German psyche, especially when it comes to business. Many of my German friends and work colleagues always argued that they don’t watch as, “The games go on for days and then no one wins.” But I think if they give cricket a chance, they may even become big fans…

I admit cricket is, relative to other games, very long-term. There are some critical decisions to be made during a game that can win or lose the match – for example, whether to bat or field first, or when to declare. Furthermore, a test series of five matches can stretch over several weeks so there is time between the matches to review strategy and adapt playing style. The Germans are adept at planning long-term in business – so the tactics in the game should be easy to relate to. And yes, sometimes after all that effort the match ends in a draw. But isn’t business just like that? Not everything you do succeeds, sometimes no one wins and you just chalk it all up to experience.

Look closely at cricket and there are aspects that reflect German business culture. Firstly, it is a team game where everyone is a specialist. Of course, there are all-rounders, but most cricketers train to be expert bowlers or batters. Excelling in a particular role is synonymous with highly-motivated, highly-skilled Germans. Furthermore, although very traditional – the MCC was formed in 1787 – cricket has embraced new technology. The first test match with a third umpire (an umpire off the field who uses TV replays to assist in decisions) was played back in 1992.

A long-term plan, executed by a team of specialists, in a traditional atmosphere using cutting-edge technology. Doesn’t that sound like the business model of German industry?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Are Germans really so demanding?

A recent survey on international consumer attitudes showed that German consumers are the most difficult in the world. As widely reported in the German press, they tend to be extremely demanding in their purchasing decisions.

German consumers score areas such as value for money, innovation, price and a tailor-made purchasing process higher than consumers in other developed markets.  Fulfilling these demands may seem a daunting prospect to any British exporter but it is worth the effort.  After all, a satisfied customer will be an advocate for your products so you need to develop trust in your brand.

And trust is another value that scored highly in the German psyche.  However, this can only be achieved on a one-to-one, personal basis. A corporate image and philosophy can be built online.  But personal interaction and a tailor-made customer journey cements trust. This can, naturally, be difficult when dealing with potential clients abroad as you need to communicate in German and understand cultural norms.

Going back to the survey, my overriding opinion is that German consumers are misunderstood.  Germans seem very demanding - but maybe that is just an Anglo-Saxon interpretation of their inherent logical buying process. They need to know everything about a product; they want to compare it to similar products; they have to make the most informed and best purchase.  And that is why they ask more questions and need more information than other consumers.  By asking all these questions and wanting to know all these facts, perhaps they are perceived as being demanding when, in fact, they are only being "German"!

Once you understand the mind-set of the German consumer, you can adjust your advertising messages, marketing / promotional literature and general approach to the market in order to satisfy these needs. You just need a little bit of market knowledge and forward planning.  Contact me if you have any questions.