The globalization of commerce has had a profound effect on businesses of all sizes. It’s opened new markets for many entrepreneurs, increasing opportunities to buy from businesses and sell to consumers all over the world.
We are all connected now—exploring online, sharing with others around the world, creating trends and meeting demands. With a click of a button you can buy almost anything from anywhere. It’s estimated that online purchasing will hit $1.5 trillion by 2018, only two years from now.
While it may seem as if the world is shrinking, when conducting business in this hyper-connected marketplace you still must be mindful of local culture. What works in one country may not necessarily “translate” to another. And it’s not just the products you sell or the services you offer—your marketing and branding need to be localized as well. Even big brands make mistakes, as Gerber baby food found out after keeping their iconic package design when they entered the African market. Big mistake.
No matter how long you’ve been in business, building demand in a local international market is like starting a new business, especially when you are not yet known worldwide. Succeeding globally comes down to understanding your audiences—how they are the same and how they differ, and then crafting the customer experience that best meets their needs and aligns with your brand.
Because the ideal customer experience is likely to change from country to country or even from market segment to market segment, the key is being aware of these differences while staying consistent with your brand promise. This is where global meets local: glocalization. McDonald’s does this well, creating glocal experiences, while remaining consistent at its highest level. For example, in Japan they offer items in the smaller sizes the Japanese market prefers, while in the Middle East they offer the McArabia, a flatbread sandwich with local appeal.
"If the brand you promise to be in one country is not going to be accepted in another, you may need to develop another brand they will like."Greta Wilson
Developing branding that appeals to a diverse global audience can be a challenge. When you have a diverse set of buyers with different needs, you may need to have more than one brand. A brand is like a person and cannot have multiple personalities or identities. If the brand you promise to be in one country is not going to be accepted in another, you may need to develop another brand they will like. Look at Lay’s potato chips, for example. They are called "Walkers" in the U.K, "Sabritas" in Mexico, and "Tapuchips." in Israel, all to appeal to the sensibilities of their customers preferences and needs.
As the world gains more access to technology (smartphones, the Internet, etc.), it will continue to shrink, not in size or population, but in styles and brands. Growing businesses cannot ignore the increasing global opportunities and demands. More and more businesses will find a way to be globally relevant, weeding out those who can’t figure it out. We’ll be left with fewer, but much stronger global brands—and your business can be one of them.
How are you managing expansion into new markets?