Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Grokë, Paul O.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Marketing


Durable goods; Consumer; Marketing


The purpose of this study was to determine and analyze those product adaptations and strategies necessary for the marketing of selected consumer durables in foreign countries. Specifically, present practices and trends were examined, bringing out characteristics of the product core, packaging, and related auxiliary services. Product adaptation policies and strategies currently practiced by firms were determined, and a projection of the expected future of product adaptation was solicited. Secondary information was gathered from numerous books, business periodicals, and government publications. Primary data were supplied through interviews with leaders in the field and a mail survey. Three product categories made up the research universe, including Household Appliances Power-driven Household Repair and Maintenance Equipment, and Entertainment Appliances. Manufacturers of consumer durables are realizing that special problems are encountered in overseas selling, and that adaptations must be made. Physical adaptations differed appreciably by product group and in the market areas served. The study indicated that electrical adjustments were considered necessary by nearly all respondents, reflecting the different cycle and voltage requirements around the world. While most, shippers do not consider the use of color as important as other modifications/ they expect its use to increase rapidly as consumers become more knowledgeable and selective. Packaging for consumer durables is primarily functional/ thus the type of materials for overseas shipping was the most serious consideration of most firms. The vital design changes consisted of complying with metric numbering systems/ and the accompanying effects on dimensions, tools, parts, and other factors. Nearly all firms provide a warranty on their products, while depending on foreign local distributors to handle installation, repair, and maintenance services. Western Europe was the most popular market area. It appears, however, that such durable items as washers and ranges have the greatest opportunity in South America. Stringent political and governmental regulations, however, must be carefully investigated when seeking business in South America. Many environmental factors affected product adaptation strategies, with cost and competition being named most often. Only one-half the respondents consider foreign markets to be different from domestic markets, and most of the firms surveyed plan for regional markets, ignoring national boundaries. Product adaptation is kept to a minimum, more effort being put into convergent promotion. Supporting this assumption is the pattern of respondents' predicting more standardization in the future. Based on a review of related literature, survey findings and manufacturers' comments, several conclusions can be made.. Manufacturers of consumer durables can, with more aggressive marketing programs, develop excellent profits abroad. Consumer durables are more standardized> world-wide, than non-durables, supporting the pattern of less physical adaptation. Contribution to the standardization is the almost universal use of the metric numbering system. United States business, to remain competitive in world markets, must begin changing over to such a system. The extra cost, time, and effort of duplicate labeling, dimensions, and calculating is putting American business at an increasing disadvantage. It appears that more American firms should examine potential markets for services provided after the initial sale, including repair, spare parts, maintenance, and operating instructions. Political and governmental regulations have multiple effects on product adaptation strategies, and must be considered as most significant. While producers see more standardization in the future, the potential markets lie in the developing, less advanced countries, where individual differences of sub-markets must still be considered.


Includes bibliographical references.


vi, 76 pages




Northern Illinois University

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