• Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

How Brands Can Adapt And Thrive In A Changing Global Landscape

Ab Gaur is the Founder & CEO of Verticurl and also serves as Ogilvy’s Chief Data and Technology Officer.

Every day, tens of millions of people stop in a Starbucks to order their favorite drinks from one of the company’s more than 32,000 stores in 80 countries. Whether offering coffee to go in New York City, brewing green tea in nature-ensconced shops in Japan or crafting Viennese coffee in French cafes, Starbucks is serving up local experiences to a global audience.

Starbucks, which launched in Seattle in 1971, has more international stores than shops in the U.S., boosting its brand and driving revenue to record highs. In other words, Starbucks went “glocal.”

Going glocal happens when a brand embraces a global product and marketing strategy where they maintain consistent brand identity and core values across different markets while tailoring strategies and offerings to the preferences and needs of local customers in parallel.

Starbucks is far from the only company going glocal. Major tech companies following suit include Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and Netflix. Meanwhile, household consumer brands like McDonald’s, Pepsi, Ford, Gillette and others have deployed successful globalization initiatives that emphasize going glocal.

The concept of glocalization is rapidly reshaping the way brands operate in an increasingly interconnected world. It’s key to growing their customer bases, maximizing revenue generation and navigating inevitable economic shifts. To be successful, brands must strike a delicate balance between maintaining a global presence and adapting to local markets.

Navigating The Hurdles Of Going Glocal

While going glocal has upsides, brands often face challenges when expanding their footprint.

For example, Walmart’s first foray into the global consumer economies, opening stores in Germany, South Korea and Japan, was not successful. The retailer’s door greeters, ubiquitous at U.S. stores, were cultural oddities in Germany. Combined with other factors, like failing to place stores within walking distance of their consumers, played a role in new regions not accepting this change.

As The New York Times reported at the time, Walmart “discovered that its formula for success—low prices, zealous inventory control and a large array of merchandise—did not translate to markets with their own discount chains and shoppers with different habits.”

This experience is not novel or unique. In another example, Home Depot closed its seven stores in China after six years as the country’s customer base didn’t embrace the company’s DIY sales proposition.

Any company looking to replicate its product offerings, software solutions or brand experiences will face unique challenges as it navigates the global economy while staying relevant to local regions. These include:

• Cultural differences.

• Different marketing research methodologies.

• Resource allocation and maintaining brand consistency.

• Managing communication and language barriers.

• Ensuring regulatory and legal compliance.

• Dealing with competition and market saturation.

• Ensuring scalability and operational efficiency.

To overcome these challenges, there are ways that brands can lean into the abundant and valuable resource of customer and market data.

Harnessing Data For Effective Glocal Strategies

Technology plays a crucial role in driving successful global efforts. Glocal companies will leverage their technology ecosystem, including cloud data platforms, data management systems, social media technologies, commerce technologies and marketing tech stacks that face end-user consumers.

To effectively implement glocal strategies, companies should harness their existing data by initiating collaborative sessions between global and local teams. Key roles like data scientists and local market specialists are pivotal in these discussions, shedding light on market-specific trends and insights. Moreover, leveraging insights from internal tools, such as CRM and ERP systems, can unveil valuable information on customer preferences and behaviors.

Establishing a task force with representatives from both global and local teams can ensure brand alignment and market-specific adaptations. This committee not only bridges the global-local gap but also fosters a glocal strategy grounded in data-driven decision-making and local market nuances.

When coupled with a collaborative approach between global and local teams, brands can combine a broad strategic marketing direction informed by the knowledge of the local market. Equipped with the right information, global or corporate brand strategy can be modified and updated to accommodate local marketing efforts.

Sometimes, even the most established brands won’t see immediate success, requiring recalibration to hit the target. After eight years of operating in France, Starbucks stores were unprofitable. The company had to reimagine its approach, discovering that U.S. customers wanted carryout experiences, but French coffee drinkers preferred to sip their coffee in the shop. Starbucks applied this customer data to make significant investments in store renovations while continuing to identify and apply hyper-local customer preferences that ultimately drove sales outcomes at a global and local level.

Every brand will experience challenges and opportunities when they go glocal. Following the advice above can help you remain informed about your shifting customer base and be responsive to their unique needs and wants.

A Balancing Act Of Global Reach And Local Relevance

Going glocal presents an effective approach for brands to optimize their global presence while responding to the unique preferences of local markets.

The success of this strategy, as illustrated by many leading companies, lies in balancing consistent brand identity with localized strategies and offerings. Technology and data are critical in crafting a glocal strategy, enabling brands to adapt to diverse consumer cultures, regulations and market dynamics.

In a global, interconnected world, going glocal is a natural next step for brands looking to enhance customer engagement, optimize revenue generation, and navigate complex economic shifts. The benefits are obvious, and the challenges, when overcome, can represent a major upside for the brand.


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