International vs. Domestic Marketing: What's the Difference?

International vs. Domestic Marketing
International vs. Domestic Marketing

International vs. Domestic Marketing: What's the Difference?

In today’s virtually connected world, it’s more important than ever for organisations to use digital marketing to reach audiences everywhere. As a digital marketer, you want to be everywhere but your consumers want you to be local. How do you accomplish this? 

Digital marketers must deliver international marketing campaigns that feel local by connecting with their audience on social media, leveraging Big Data to personalise content, and interpreting marketing analytics and web analytics to optimise customer experience (CX).

Domestic marketing can be scaled internationally to ensure consumers understand your brand and feel connected to your company. Learn more about the main differences between international marketing and domestic marketing so that you can launch successful campaigns and reach audiences wherever they are. 

woman on a business call

International Marketing vs. Domestic Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Large brands extend across the world, but the way they offer their products and services varies in different locations. For example, with 36,000 locations in over 100 countries, McDonald’s menu items change based on geographical location. You could order a McFalfal wrap with paprika-infused cheese fries in Egypt or a Matcha McShake in Japan. 

Advertising agencies in the UK often export their services to other countries and must deliver local marketing campaigns across international borders. Before you can understand the importance of local marketing, first you must know the essential differences between international marketing vs. domestic marketing.

International Marketing

International marketing refers to carrying out marketing activities outside national boundaries. International marketing typically involves the following:

  • A large scope and wide geographical target market
  • The use of different languages, currencies, and cultural variances in advertising
  • Higher financial investment
  • Lack of familiarity with foreign markets
  • Less control over international marketing activities
  • International government and legal considerations

Domestic Marketing

Domestic Marketing refers to carrying out marketing activities inside national boundaries. When compared to international marketing, domestic marketing involves:

  • A smaller scope of work with a local target market
  • Uses the nation’s official languages and currencies 
  • Less financial investment 
  • More familiarity with the domestic market
  • More control over domestic marketing activities
  • Local government and legal considerations 

The US vs. UK: What’s the Difference?

The US and the UK contain diverse market conditions and different consumer attitudes and behaviours that serve as a perfect example for outlining barriers while marketing across borders. Learn more about the contrasts between language, currency, regulations, and trends in the US and the UK. 


The US

The UK


The United States does not have an official language, but the most common languages used are American English and Spanish. American English uses different spelling when compared to British English (ex. Color vs. colour). 

The official language in the United Kingdom is English. 


The United States dollar (symbol: $; code: USD)

The pound sterling (symbol: £; code: GBP)

Government Regulations

Marketing must comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and be sensitive to health claims, marketing to children, using “Made in USA” labels, environmental marketing claims, and more.

Marketing must abide by the Government of the United Kingdom’s marketing and advertising laws, including the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations.

Marketing Trends

Digital transformation, automation, the importance of social impact, influencer marketing, and short-form videos are all digital marketing trends to watch in the US in 2021.

Digital transformation, automation, and the importance of social impact are also relevant trends in the UK. Conversational marketing, consumer privacy, and AI and machine learning are also top-of-mind for marketers in the UK in 2021. 

Spending Habits

Customers in the US make more digital purchases per Capita related to automotive supplies, health, pets, and sports/outdoors, according to research by LinkedIn.

The same research found that UK customers have unique shopping habits and spend 50% more on food-related transactions. UK customers also spend more on women’s clothing, appliances, and home-related purchases.

Cultural Advertising

The Guardian highlights how ads differ in the US vs. UK and reports that American ads tend to be more patriotic, feature celebrity endorsements, use optimistic language, and prioritise advertising during sports events like the Super Bowl. 

UK ads conversely, tend to avoid patriotism, film ads in real-world settings, use fewer celebrity endorsements, employ self-deprecating humour or sarcasm, and run the most advertising during holidays like Christmas. The UK also emphasizes the diversity of its multicultural population in its advertising. 

Has COVID-19 Impacted International Marketing Exports in the UK?

The pandemic and resulting lockdowns have changed the world, including the world of marketing. People are spending less time travelling and more time in their place of residence. Despite these changes, UK advertising agencies continue to export their services and recent reports found that 22% of UK agencies have increased export revenues throughout the pandemic. 

This means that companies in international markets are hiring UK advertising brands to create content for their domestic markets. The same report found that the key drivers of UK advertising exports include:

  • The UK’s global reputation
  • The quality of UK talent
  • High levels of creativity 
  • Global use of the English language
  • The UK's geographical location, allowing UK agencies to transcend time zones with Asia and America
  • The size and scale of the UK

Has COVID-19 Impacted Domestic Marketing in the UK?

Marketing in the era of COVID-19 has changed to respond to evolving consumer behaviour. UK shoppers are spending more on essential items and spending less on fuel, airlines, and foreign travel.

London is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, but recent travel restrictions have slowed the tourism industry and led to a 64% drop in domestic tourism in London, from £17.5bn in 2019 to £6.3bn in 2020. 

The need for tourism prompted advertising agencies to launch a £6m project called “Let’s Do London” — a campaign designed to attract people from across the UK to visit central London. This campaign embodies domestic marketing efforts because it encourages Britons to explore their own backyard and engage in a series of free outdoor activities. This proves that the pandemic has changed the importance of domestic tourism and domestic marketing efforts.

women entrepreneurs discussing

Is it Possible to Make International Marketing Feel Local?

Local or domestic marketing used to be the only way marketers could reach their audiences. Billboards, print, radio and television advertisements were commonplace and UK companies struggled to run marketing campaigns outside of national borders.

Advanced technology, Big Data, and business analytics allow marketers to create, distribute, and track marketing campaigns across the world. Nowadays, UK marketing companies need the right tools and talent to launch international campaigns that feel close to home. 

There are several things an organisation should prioritise to launch a successful international marketing campaign:

  1. Start close to home: Countries nearby tend to present fewer market barriers. Barriers may include language barriers, government restrictions, legal implications, or cultural differences.
  2. Budget: Use data analytics and financial reporting to determine a budget, including shipping costs, legal fees, foreign tax, travel expenses, etc.
  3. Conduct market research: Big Data and marketing analytics can help your team conduct in-depth research to determine costs, demographics, cultural differences, economic disparities, and essential campaign information.
  4. Diversify your content strategy: Content (whether it includes video, blog articles, or Ebooks) is your primary way of educating your audience about your brand. Your content strategy should be differentiated in every location you target.
  5. Create multiple social media accounts: Many large brands host a primary social media account and secondary social media accounts for each location they target. This allows a brand to speak to a general audience while also sharing hyper-personalised news based on local events.
  6. Speak to your audience: Marketing analytics help brands discover who their target market is so they can tailor content specifically to each diverse audience. Find your audience and craft messaging that is familiar to them.
  7. Mind your time zone: Be mindful of the different time zones you market within. This is a small but mighty detail that can be solved with a scheduling platform.

Win at International Marketing with an MSc in Digital Marketing & Analytics

Businesses rely on Big Data and marketing analytics to improve internal operations and enable better international marketing strategies that boost revenue. Europe’s Big Data and business analytics market is expected to grow 11.5% through 2027, from $44.21 billion in 2018 to $105.82 billion by 2027. 

The same report found that nearly every industry, from IT and telecoms to e-commerce and retail, are investing heavily in software and talent capable of translating unstructured data into tangible business insights.

An MSc in Digital Marketing & Analytics teaches students how to mine data, analyse data sets, identify patterns, and communicate findings in proper data visualisation formats. The UK saw a 52% increase in demand for jobs in digital marketing, making it one of the fastest-growing career paths in 2021. 

With a global mindset, students enrolled in an MSc in Digital Marketing & Analytics learn high-demand skills in relevant courses, such as:

  • Business Analytics in Practice 
  • Data Mining and Web Analytics 
  • Descriptive Analytics
  • Digital Marketing 
  • Global Business Ethics 
  • International Marketing Management 
  • Software for Analytics 

Why Study with Aston University?

Start your international marketing career by connecting with an international community of business professionals at Aston University. Aston University is a globally distinguished university that is proudly recognised by numerous education authorities, including: 

  • University of the Year, The Guardian 2020
  • Outstanding Entrepreneurial University, Times Higher Education 2020
  • Triple Accreditation from EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA
  • 30th Best University in the UK, The Guardian University Guide 2021

Learn in-demand skills at a top school with an MSc in Digital Marketing & Analytics from Aston University.