Design-intensive born globals: a multiple case study of marketing management

Zeynep Falay, Markku Salimäki, Antti Ainamo, Mika Gabrielsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper explores the marketing activities of "born global" companies that have been established either by one or two designers, or by a designer and a business graduate. "Born globals" are companies that have internationalised their business soon after their establishment. The focus in this paper is on the impact that the mental model of the founders – in terms of marketing competences operationalised in terms of educational background – has on the firmś commercial success in the early stages of internationalisation. Our analysis shows that the marketing competences of the designers we studied were geared toward establishing the founders' own brand as designers or successfully launching their product offering into the market. Participating in international trade fairs, personal contacts with the distribution channel representatives and control of point of sale activities were the main marketing methods. Conventional advertising was used very little, mainly because of the high costs associated with operating in the global arena. After early development and early growth the design-intensive born globals began to suffer with a lack of sufficient marketing competencies. The marketing competences required for managing growth to maturity and managing profitability were crucial, if there was to be any 'second stage' for the design-intensive firm. In the companies we studied, a partnership between design entrepreneur and a marketing professional was a source of sustained competitive advantage in some firms. We propose that our findings are generalisable. We believe that also other design-intensive born globals meet the challenge of higher requirements for marketing competences in the 'second stage' of growth than in the initial stage. Hence, they may find valuable our result of why and how a "co-preneurial" partnership between the designer and a marketing professional can be a solution.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Marketing Management
Pages (from-to)877-899
Publication statusPublished - 2007
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • design
  • born globals
  • competencies
  • marketing management
  • case study

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