The purpose of this paper is to explore how the Empire Marketing Board used enhanced marketing tools and approaches to reduce British consumer bias against foreign products. The paper asks: “How have marketers historically increased foreign exports to domestic markets?”
The paper comprises an historical account of the Empire Marketing Board during the 1920s and 1930s. Applying a qualitative approach, it relies on archival materials gathered by the author in the United Kingdom – including official and personal papers; newspaper and poster advertisements of the Board; and existing scholarship for its information.
The Board used three strategies in its advertisements: collaboration, showing how domestic and overseas markets were linked in mutually beneficial ways; globalization, emphasizing the expansive “home” market and the benefits of removing borders; and producer profiles, narrating the producers of imperial products to create the desire to benefit producers.
The strategies of the Board are not dissimilar to fair trade campaigns used by the private sector today, notably in coffee. Looking forward, these approaches could be valid ways for companies today to reduce consumer bias against foreign goods, and this paper hopes to be a stepping-stone for future research.
Analyzing under-used archival sources, the paper illuminates the complex processes and ideologies embedded within the Board’s campaigns. The Empire Marketing Board played an important role in the interwar British consumer conceptualization of the relationship between Britain and her Empire, construction of a global British “home” market and the familiarization of imperial producers.
The author thanks George Bernstein, Josh Beck and George Watson for their valuable input on this project.
Moore, J.A. (2016), "Selling empire: a historical perspective on selling foreign products in domestic markets", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 263-283. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHRM-07-2015-0023Download as .RIS
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