Updated April 24, 2023
“Think globally, act locally” is a popular strategy that has gained relevance in a globalized world without boundaries for moving goods and marketing services. It is now evident that companies cannot insulate themselves from global marketing competition by staying only in the domestic or select markets.
Several global brands such as MacDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Domino’s Pizza, Red Bull energy drink, KFC, Nike, and Starbucks have done it with great success. Global marketing goes through the same process as in local marketing strategies – as the four P’s are relevant in any market-Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
What is Global Marketing Strategies?
Global marketing strategies require considerable investment in money, resources, and manpower to understand various markets, the country, cultures, local traditions, manners, and etiquette. Here are some strategies for companies to follow:
1. One size doesn’t fit all; add local flavor
When it comes to consumer tastes, preferences, and interests, there is nothing universal about it. They differ from country to country, climatic zones, GDP levels (Gross Domestic Product), customs, and traditions. The food industry has successfully used the ‘local flavoring’ strategy with good success.
In much of Asia, Domino’s Pizza uses seafood for its toppings, while in India, they use curry. Dunkin Donuts has marketed flavors based on local preferences, such as marketing it as Dunclairs in Russia. In Korea, Grapefruit Coolata and Mango Chocolate Donuts are served, while in Lebanon, they offer dry pork and seaweed donuts. McDonald’s tailors its menu to local tastes with items like Green Chilli Cheeseburgers in Mexico, Bulgogi Burgers in South Korea, and McArabia for Arab nations.
Japanese automobile manufacturer Suzuki has developed several variants of its SX-4 model, first as a hatchback for European markets, then as an SUV in US markets, and subsequently as Sedan in India and S-Crossover in different markets. The engine power, fuel variants, and design specifications were all altered in different countries to suit local tastes. This has made it the much talked about automobile in the past 10 years since its launch in 2006.
2. Understand the cultural differences
When going for branding across different countries, it is better to do global marketing research on what the word or words mean in that country. Chevrolet’s Nova failed miserably in Spain, not because it was a bad product but because No-Va means ‘no-go’ in Spanish. Colgate toothpaste brand Cue struggled in France because its name was associated with a popular pornographic magazine. Similarly, Vicks cough drops faced challenges in Germany as ‘V’ is pronounced as ‘F’, making it slang for sexual intercourse. Nike had to recall its products that featured an illustration resembling Allah in Arabic. An improper brand name in a particular cultural or linguistic milieu can cause huge damage to the company, and its marketing efforts may go down the drain.
The T-shirt campaign by Abercrombie was labeled as racist, resulting in consumer protests in the US, and Fitch also faced a similar backlash with their campaign. The slogan “Two Wong’s can make it White” was deemed offensive, and “Get Your Buddha” slogans on the floor led to consumer boycotts. Naming liquor in the name of Hindu gods also invited the ire of the large Asian community in the USA, leading to the recall of such brands.
3. Tie up with a local partner who understands the local market
In many countries, it is not mass media campaigns; money is pumped into marketing and distribution that will bring results. A good understanding of the local market is a prerequisite for success. The best way to ensure this is through a joint venture global marketing partnership or marketing tie-up with a local partner in the same business. This will enable the global firm to attain market supremacy much more rapidly. Honda, Renault, Suzuki, and Swedish firm Forbes launched vacuum cleaners in India in the 1980s (Eureka Forbes through a joint venture in India). Starbucks (Tatas), Sharp (Kalyani), and several global brands established their foothold in India through tie-ups with local companies.
Tie-ups can be in the form of 50:50 joint ventures or marketing tie-up. Companies confident of going ahead on their own can set up fully-owned subsidiaries. The joint venture arrangements can be for a specified period, after which both companies can launch their own brands. When Hero severed its ties with Honda for two-wheelers and Renault for cars with Mahindra, the companies concerned launched their own products.
4. Production, marketing, logistics
Until a few years ago, having multi-locational operations to deliver a product was not easy. With advances in technology, better logistics, and economies of scale, it is possible for the parent company to design a product in its headquarters or an emerging market, get them fabricated in a different country, do the manufacturing there, and export it to other countries. Many global brands such as HP, Toshiba, and Acer are manufactured in China, Taiwan, Thailand, or some other nation where manufacturing is cheaper. And it is shipped to the consuming country and still enables good margins on the sale of products.
5. Plan the global campaign
Once a product is launched, the global campaign has to begin. It has to be undertaken by a global marketing agency. They have to take care of the creative, media planning, hoardings, and other mass publicity campaigns in association with the marketing team in the global marketing company. The campaigns must be translated, localized, and relevant new ones created for specific markets.
Setting key metrics and goals such as CTR (click-through rates), impressions per 1000 pages for web-based advertising, return on investment for global ads, and social media campaign targets is important. It is essential that the marketing team has got the budget for all these, including campaigns in electronic media, and gets approval from the headquarters. Marketing teams across the globe should be in constant communication with themselves to evolve strategies.
Sometimes, the global campaign should not be restricted to pushing more sales but to inspire to embrace a concept. Unilever did that for Dove Soap with Campaign for Real Beauty. The global marketing company focussed on raising women’s self-esteem and aligning the product with it. Email campaigns, conferences, website promotions, and person-to-person interactions were all part of the integrated strategy of Unliver to achieve the objective.
6. Utilise the power of social media
On a global scale, none is more powerful than social media to reach a wide audience. For campaigns with pictures, video, and lesser text, FaceBook would be the appropriate medium. At the same time, Twitter marketing may be effective for sharing industry global marketing news, especially those involving B2B products. Paid campaigns can create good reach, and even YouTube videos can be shared effectively to reach a large audience. All major consumer products marketed globally have a good social media presence, including Coca-Cola, Samsung, Pepsi, Unilever, and Glaxo.
Pearse Trust has operations in the UK, USA, and Canada. It is globally renowned for advising corporates, and trusts have used the FaceBook campaign that features announcements on webinars on various topics and the various services they undertake.
7. Events and promotions
Sports and entertainment events are the best avenues for promoting brands, and Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, Coco-Cola, Pepsi, and other transnational companies have used them to boost their brand value.
Red Bull Energy drink has also successfully sponsored sports globally, using it effectively for branding. Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, UK’s Red Bull Air Race, and Jordan’s Soap Box race are all examples to study and implement.
8. Pricing & Packaging
Prices are very sensitive in emerging markets, while they may not be so in developed markets. For example, shampoos and oils are normally sold in 250 or 500-ml bottles. Still, in emerging markets like India, China, Philippines, Korea, and Indonesia, it may be better to have smaller sachet packs of 50 or 100 ml to cater to lower-income segments or those living in rural areas. Many MNCs have already adopted such localization techniques effectively. Sample toothpaste sachet packs with 50 gm content are now being marketed in such regions.
KFC or MacDonald’s may not be expensive in US and European markets, but not so in emerging markets. India, it may be possible to have tea and snacks for fifteen rupees, but the simplest snack in KFC may cost fifty rupees or more.
9. Utilise local strengths
In many countries, large malls or commercial centers are yet to emerge, but there is a strong network of small shops or kiranas as they are called in India or Kombini in Japan, the convenience stores that are an essential part of their life. No marketing strategy can ignore the strength of these sales networks. Amazon markets its products online in Japan but is delivered through local convenience stores. In India, the power of kiranas to drive sales has also been proven repeatedly. The retailer can put up point-of-purchase (POP) leaflets and hangers and also advise regular customers to choose the best products available.
10. Global marketing is not for big players alone
There is a myth that large companies can only undertake global-scale marketing. A translation services company in the UK, Lingo24 went global by opening offices in four continents. It also localized its web content into the region’s language and boosted
its total revenue from global operations to 50%. Many of the companies getting good business in software services are not big players but medium and small players who offer better rates and expertise in some niche verticals or are seen operating from major technoparks in India.
Considering the diversity of global markets, understanding each region may be a daunting task. Companies often think of other markets as extensions of the home markets and hence fail to make major inroads into other territories. Even in mass media campaigns simple translation strategy may not work, and hence new campaigns with local themes set in the country’s social milieu must be done to attain good results. The translation team needs to understand the organization’s goals and what brand value is intended to be conveyed to the consumers. Even Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has to be adapted to different countries and regions, which means the ‘one size fits all’ will also not work for online campaigns.
Despite the many success stories in global marketing, several others don’t succeed because of a lack of localization strategy. The INBOUND 2015 conference revealed marketers’ thoughts about translating content to local languages. About 48% of those who participated in the survey felt there was no budget for translation into local languages. It is accepted that in many countries, consumers tend to read more branding content if it is in their native language.
A marketing campaign that does not respect local cultures, sentiments, traditions, and the consumer as an individual is bound to fail. Therefore, it pays to employ local talent in marketing and branding to help understand regional tastes and attitudes to deliver the right branding message in promotions.
Consistency in brand promotions, localizing the product to the regional markets, extensive use of social media and inbound marketing, and appropriate pricing and packaging will make your global campaign a grand success. It is important not to upset the local sentiments in any nation, and campaigns should look credible.
Several decades ago, Indians and most Asians were used to cleaning teeth with charcoal. The Colgate campaign ridiculed it, but subsequently, fluoride content in their pastes was reported to be high and caused concern about fluorosis. Now Colgate claims its new version of the toothpaste has charcoal. Colgate-Palmolive’s FaceBook post has invited the ire of consumers who are now told that the presence of charcoal in Colgate is beneficial for cleaning your teeth. Now the company uses ultra micro charcoal particles and is always at the forefront of combining innovation with tradition.
Such campaigns undoubtedly lead to losing credibility and brand image, which is best avoided.
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