This information was first presented about five years ago to help Iceland in their marketing of the Icelandic Horse in America. It wasn't understood at that time, and we hoped it would be understood after the not-so-good results of the icetolts.
The Americans who have read the original text, this condensed version, and / or the full version are now using information from the report, doing surveys, taking a stand, and separating from problem situations. They are at the point of reaching an understanding of the implications of how to effectively market the Icelandic Horse in North America, specifically for our horse culture.
It was about six years or seven years ago when we first talked about thinking outside of the box. Oh, gosh, it was unthinkable back then.
We were definitely ahead of our time, and caused quite a few raised eyebrows (to say the least :-)) along the way. At times, people didn't like hearing what was presented and offered... but it's always good to remember: don't shoot the messenger!
It's easier to see, at this point in time, that the information was valid. Hindsight is 20/20 :-).
Horses, politics, organizations, and egos don't mix well. It should be about the horse, pure and simple.
Organizations (and the politics and egos that go with them) hold back progress. Look at what we've been able to accomplish without an organization! We're way ahead of the game, leading the pack!
Altho the report was originally intended to help Iceland, comprehension and use of the information in this report by North American breeders is serving to help the domestic breeders market and promote their horses.
By Judy Ryder Duffy
Successful international marketing involves anthropology (the study
of culture) of the intended market. Successful marketing includes learning
about the customers, then translating that knowledge into a strategy for a
Cross-cultural marketing is defined as the strategic process of marketing
among consumers whose culture differs from that of the marketer's own
culture at least in one of the fundamental cultural aspects, such as
language, religion, social norms and values, education, and the living
If marketers want to be winners in the cross-cultural marketing arena, they
must create the marketing mix that meets the consumer's values.
Marketing tactics used in one country may not work in another.
Marketing the Icelandic Horse in America is much different than marketing the Icelandic Horse in Europe. In America there are thirty breeds of gaited horses and high-level experienced gaited horse owners, breeders, trainers.
The key to success in a foreign environment is to know how to listen to what
is needed, to know how to reshape the product to meet those needs. Adapting
the product is key number one!
Firms must conduct some form of cultural analysis to provide an
understanding of consumer behavior in the targeted market. Cross-cultural
analysis is the systematic comparison of similarities and differences in the
material and behavioral aspects of the culture.
The following are aspects of cross-cultural marketing:
Things to consider:
 Does my product meet the cultural needs of the market?
 Does the price fit in with competitor products?
 Is the product being promoted culturally appropriately?
 Do we have knowledgeable and effective distributors?
 What needs are fulfilled by the targeted audience with this product?
 How are the needs presently fulfilled?
 Do members of the culture readily recognize these needs?
Product acceptance is affected by culturally based attitudes towards general
use, and by change. If a product demands a change different from general
use of similar products, your product may need to be adapted to minimize the
In terms of marketing practice, the following points should be guidelines
for marketers to minimize the possible cross-culture marketing mistakes:
 Develop cultural empathy; recognize, understand, and respect another's
 Be culturally neutral and realize that difference is not necessarily
better or worse
 Never assume transferability of a concept from one culture to another
 Get knowledgeable*cultural informants involved into the decision making
*Knowledgeable people would be those who have a much broader knowledge base
than customers who are already using the product whose knowledge is limited
to the product and not the general market.
Voice of the Consumer (VOC)
The "voice of the consumer" is the term to describe the stated and unstated
customer needs or requirements. The voice of the customer can be captured
in a variety of ways: direction discussion or interviews, surveys, focus
groups, customer specifications, observation,
warranty data, field reports, etc.
Stages of Product Life Cycle
Many products stall out at the "Growth" stage for lack of meeting cultural
Capitalize on market demand by adapting products and services to clients'
To "win" offshore requires knowledge of what to sell, when to sell it, and
how to sell it in offshore markets. What the marketers sell at home has an
invisible overhang on what it will sell and how it invests overseas. For
example, marketers tend to export their marketing and engineering viewpoint
and processes along with the product without adapting them to the needs of
the target market.
Thinking Outside the Box
Willingness to take new perspectives to day-to-day work.
Openness to do different things and to do things differently.
Focusing on the value of finding new ideas and acting on them.
Striving to create value in new ways.
Listening to others.
Supporting and respecting others when they come up with new ideas.
Project management today is not quite the same as it used to be in past
Foreign markets vary widely among themselves and in comparison to home
markets. Marketers who understand and implement this awareness into their
operations are capable of becoming successful.
The Basics or Fundamentals of "How"
 Separate the product from services and add-ons.
 Find a market (niche / segment) and adapt a product / service to that
 Be proactive and anticipate your customers needs
 Be the first to "attack" this market and you will realize a significant
competitive advantage (first to market rules, leaders dominate, followers
pick up the scraps)
 Who is your customer and what does he / she want or need?
 What comes first the market or the product / service? (The market)
 Trying to adapt a market to your product / service ("Build the temple and
they will come"). It is much more difficult to try to adapt a market to a
product or service.
The two very primary basics or fundamentals are:
 Product: you must have a product that people want or need
 Price: your product must be made available at a price your market is
willing to pay
Classic Mistakes / Learn From Others
 Biggest mistake marketers make is to create a product/service first and
then promote it (market/sell it) to see if it "will fly" - very costly (hit
 Don't think because you believe your products and services are fantastic
that your customers will share your same sentiment
 Don't sell your product/service until you know your market(s) / customers
will want to buy it
 It is much better to be market (customer) oriented than product / service
 Diverse or heterogeneous organizations will know how to market and sell
diverse or heterogeneous target markets
 Homogeneous organizations will suffer and possibly perish
 Develop a product / service to meet or exceed the needs of this market
 Then market and promote your product / service to the pre-defined target
market (niche / segment) and monitor the results.
Separating Product from Services and Add-ons
To start a new marketing strategy, it will behoove the plan to separate the
product of the Icelandic Horse from any services such as trainers, farriers,
professional riders, judges, clinicians, etc., and also from any add-ons
such as tack and saddles. Sell the horse first! Let it become popular
within the horse culture (like the Paso Fino) before tacking on services.
How does all of this relate and transfer to the marketing of the Icelandic
Horse in North America?
About The American Market
There are currently over 7 million horses in the US, compiled of
approximately 100 breeds, including about 30 gaited horse breeds. This is
Recreational use of horses is the fastest growing segment of the horse
industry, involving almost 3 million Americans and an economic impact of
more than \\$28 billion, including almost 317,000 full-time jobs.
The world had an estimated 61 million horses in the mid-1990s, of which over
10 percent were in the U.S. The AHC Foundation completed a study in 1996
of The Economic Impact of the Horse Industry in the United States. The
equine industry as a whole, including racing, showing, recreation and
working horses, involves 7 million horses and approximately 7.1 million
participants, including over 1.9 million horse owners. Millions more show
horses or ride for exercise and recreation.
The most popular horse is the Quarter Horse. AQHA has registered 3.7
million American Quarter Horses and serves more than 300,000 worldwide
The most popular gaited horse is the Tennessee Walking Horse. A report by
the Tennessee Department of Agriculture said there were 190,000 horses in
Tennessee in 1999, the third-highest horse population in the nation. The
breed has a total population of approximately 500,000 registered horses.
Currently, the USIHC reports approximately 2,000 registered Icelandic
Horses, altho we believe, from an informal study in 2000, that there may be
about 3,200 Icelandic Horses in the United States. (Some horses have not
been registered by choice, others were from abandoned herds, some caught in
Looking to other similar gaited breeds, coming into popularity in the mid
20th century along with the Icelandic Horse, we have the Peruvian Paso and
the Paso Fino. Currently, their recorded numbers in the US are: Peruvian
Paso 14,000 and Paso Fino 50,000.
There is such a large gap between the numbers of Peruvians and Finos, that
we wanted to find out why and what made the difference. It has been
interesting and insightful to research the breeds, their history, and their
marketing in the US, and to try to find some answers that may be helpful for
the Icelandic Horse.
Each of these three breeds (Icelandic, Peruvian, Fino) had individual horses
brought into the US prior to the middle of the 20th century, but it was in
the 1950's and 1960's (post-war) when each one got their breed identity in
For the Paso Fino: "Awareness of the Paso Fino as we know it today didn't
spread outside Latin America until after WWII, when American servicemen came
into contact with the stunning Paso Fino horse while stationed in Puerto
Rico." The January 2004 cover of the Endurance News magazine sports a full
page, color picture of a Paso Fino.
For the Peruvian Paso: "As part of their recovery in 1945 from the Chilean
War, Peru made an all out effort to preserve their treasure, the horse,
almost lost due to the war. Peruvians made a serious attempt to record the
horses' fabulous history and guard their legacy. It was at this time they
decided to have shows, form an association and start a stud book. However,
in terms of historical continuity because of political problems, their
isolation and the war, Peru has been at a disadvantage."
The difference between the horses coming to the United States is that the
Paso Finos came with American servicemen and were mainstreamed into the
American horse culture, easily sliding into wearing western tack, trail
riding, becoming family horses, working cows. Acceptance of the Paso Fino
Horse into the American horse culture was facilitated by this initial
In contrast with the Peruvian Pasos, the Peruvians were brought to the
United States "guarded" (so to speak) by their trainers, and the mystique
and mythology that goes along with it. It was said that "Peruvian tack has
evolved with the horse for 500 years and most closely suits its
conformation, riding style, and unique beauty of the horse for which it was
created. The breed associations have continued to observe the tradition of
Peru, and the Peruvian tack remains mandatory at most shows."
The number of Paso Finos grew rapidly, while the number of Peruvian Pasos
During this time, the Icelandic Horses were also first imported to North
America, taking more of the same route as the Peruvian Pasos, entrenched
with their own trainers and tradition.
Again, by recorded numbers we have Paso Finos at 50,000, Peruvian Pasos at
14,000, and Icelandic Horses at 2,000, for approximately the same time
period of about 40 years in the US.
Rocky Mountain Horses, first organized in 1986, approximates 6,000 horses.
The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association was established, March 22,
1989, As interest and awareness of Mountain Horses grows, so does the role
of the KMSHA. It has grown from "a handful of horses" to over 1000 members,
and nearly 6000 horses registered.
Fjord Horses and Welsh Ponies came into North America about the
same time and they log in with 7,000 and 40,000, respectively.
American Riders and Riding Style
The largest population of riders is in the pleasure market which is, again,
the fastest growing segment.
American horse riding culture, in general, is "western" in orientation, preferring
western saddles, tack, and casual riding style.
To ride "western" has really little to do with the equipment you use, but
it's a different approach to riding, and the ultimate goals are different.
Often the expression "western style riding" is used, but it's not just a
style... style implies more that the difference lies in the outfit, but to
ride western means a different way, a different method, a different
philosophy, means somewhat different aids and cues.
The horse doesn't know whether it's a "western" horse or not. It will either
move away from pressure or against it, depending on how it was taught, it
will wring its tail if you annoy it sufficiently, it will gap its mouth if
you pull too much on the rein, etc.
Western riding is a style which is aimed at allowing the horse to move in
the most natural form.
As the larger portion of the potential horse-owning population of America
ages into the "mature" years, it has more disposable income, ready to
fulfill their childhood dreams of horse ownership.
Natural, Natural, Natural
The American (and world-wide) trend is towards natural horsemanship; for
example the methods of Pat Parelli (Parelli Natural Horse-man-ship), John
Lyons (Lyons Perfect Horse), and Bill Dorrance (True Horsemanship Thru
Everything is going "natural": riding style, tack, saddles, barefoot care,
training, etc. At the big horse expos in the US, most of the clinicians are
This natural trend fits in perfectly with the western horse culture of
America. Breeds that use these methods are more attractive to potential
Marketing the Icelandic Horse in Europe where there were no other gaited
horses is much different than marketing in the US with 30 breeds of gaited
horses and high-level experienced gaited horse owners, breeders, trainers.