Thursday, January 22, 2009

Global Brands Must Think Local

The arrival of powerful media like TV and radio turned some brands between the 50s and the 70s global. Indeed, it was possible for a company to spread the world with its product thanks to these new media that could cover nations, and later on, the world. Based on these media, some companies like McDonald's or Marlboro have been able to become global brands.

The myth of Global Brands
There is indeed a myth of the global brand, which has such a powerful personality that it can spread the world and go beyond cultural differences. Thus, it is true that people in Europe, America or Asia all go to McDonald's, use L'Oreal products or like to wear Diesel's jeans.
Also, some of the main brand features of these brands are spread thanks to their country of origin. Levi's vehicle the american dream, and Emporio Armani the Italian style.

But actually, in order to be able to settle down in a country, there is still some adaptation to be done, in order to suit the local culture and social background.

This is the concept of "Glocal": a global brand which owns very unique features, but also can adapt to local cultures and way to do business. McDonald's is a great example: they have about the same best sales products all over the world, but adapt their communication and some of their products to the local market. That is the reason why McDonald's develop some fish burgers in Israel, and non beef burgers in India (since the cow is a sacred animal there).

The temptation is great to have a global brand that you would manage from the mothercountry and would simply broadcast all over the world. The cost efficiency of such marketing program is great, but actually, there is a high risk to fail, as you are not fitting customer's expectations nor needs.

Some counterexamples
However, some of these international campaigns work, as Apple that market the same way all the different market, but some other didn't which can explain why Burger King did not success in France.
"Unilever, for instance, sells the same deodorant around the world under a variety of names: Degree in North America, Sure in Britain and Rexona in much of the rest of the world. A few years ago, sales of Guinness beer surged in Africa on the back of a campaign far removed from the beer's Irish roots; it featured action movie-style ads, with a Jamaican-born actor as the hero."

It is still very important for a brand not to neglect cultural differences, that might actually become more important in the future, as this article exposes. People are still very involved with their local life even though new technologies enable them to interact with the whole world. Therefore, adapting global brands' strategy seems to be more than ever important.