Introduction to Global Marketing Strategies
‘Think globally, act locally’ is a popular strategy that is becoming more and more relevant in a globalized world where there are no boundaries when it comes to movement of goods and global marketing services. Now it has become evident that companies cannot insulate itself from Global marketing competition by remaining in the domestic market or a few select markets.
Several global brands such as MacDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Domino’s Pizza, Red Bull energy drink, KFC, Nike, 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.
Global Marketing Strategies
Global marketing strategies require considerable investment in money, resources, manpower to understand various markets, the country, cultures, local tradition, 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 ‘local flavoring’ strategy with good success.
In much of Asia Domino’s Pizza uses sea food for its toppings while in India they use curry. Dunkin Donuts have used flavours according to local preferences- in Russia it’s marketed as Dunclairs, in Korea as Grapefruit Coolata and Mango Chocolate Donut in Lebanon while in China they serve dry pork and seaweed donuts. MacDonald’s varies its menu according to local tastes- the Green Chilli Cheeseburger (Mexico), bulgogi burgers (South Korea), McArabia (for Arab nations).
Japanese automobile manufacturer Suzuki has come up with several variants of its SX-4 model first as a hatch back for European markets, then as an SUV in US markets, subsequently as Sedan in India and S-Crossover in different markets. The engine power, fuel variants, 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 some global marketing research on what the word or words mean in that country. In Spain, Chevrolet’s Nova failed miserably not because it was a bad product but No-Va means ‘no-go’ in Spanish. Colgate toothpaste brand Cue couldn’t make much headway in France as it was the name of a popular pornographi c magazine, Vicks cough drops was a failure 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.
T-shirt campaign by Abercrombie been dubbed racist and led to protests by consumers in US while Fitch also had similar campaign. ‘Two Wong’s can make it White was seen as offensive while ‘Get Your Buddha slogans on the Floor resulted in consumer boycotts. Naming liquor in the name of Hindu gods also had invited ire of the large Asian community in USA leading to recall of such brands.
3. Tie-up with a local partner who understands the local market
In many countries, it is not mass media campaign, money pumped into marketing and distribution that will bring result. A good understanding of the local market is a pre-requisite for success and the best way to ensure is through a joint venture global marketing partnerships or marketing tie-up with a local partner in the same business. This will enable the global firm to attain market supremacy at a much rapid pace. Honda, Renault, Suzuki, Swedish firm Forbes launched vacuum cleaner in India in 1980’s (Eureka Forbes through a joint venture in India) Starbucks (Tatas) , Sharp (Kalyani) and several global brands by 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 its own can set up fully-owned subsidiaries. The joint venture arrangements can be for a specified period after which both companies are at liberty to launch their own brands. When Hero severed its ties with Honda for two wheelers, Renault for cars with Mahindra, the companies concerned launched their own products.
4. Production, marketing, logistics
Until a few years ago, it was not easy to have multi-locational operations to deliver a product. With advances in technology, better logistics and economies of scale, it is possible for the parent company to design a product in their headquarters or in an emerging market, get them fabricated in a different country, do the manufacturing there and export it other countries. Many global brands such as HP, Toshiba, Acer follow the strategy of manufacturing in China, Taiwan, Thailand or some other nation where it is cheaper to manufacture. And it is shipped to the consuming country and still enable good margins on 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 have to be translated, localized and relevant new ones created for specific markets.
It is important to set key metrics and goals such as CTR (click-through-rates), impressions per 1000 pages for web based advertising, return on investment for global ads, social media campaign targets. It is essential that the marketing team has got the budget for all these including campaigns in electronic media and got approval from the headquarters. The marketing teams across the globe should be in constant communication between 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 the self-esteem of women 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 power than social media to reach a wide audience. For campaigns with picture, video and lesser text, FaceBook would be the appropriate medium while for sharing industry global marketing news, especially those involving B2B products Twitter marketing may be effective. Paid campaigns can create good reach, even YouTube videos can be shared effectively to reach a large audience. All major consumer products marketed globally have good social media presence including Coca-Cola, Samsung, Pepsi, Unilever, Glaxo among others.
Pearse Trust having operations in UK, USA and Canada, a globally renowned for advising on corporates and trusts has used the FaceBook campaign that features announcement 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 trans national companies have used it 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, Jordan’s Soap Box race are all examples to study and implement.
8. Pricing & Packaging
Prices are very sensitive in emerging markets while it may not be so in developed markets. For example, shampoos and oils are normally sold in bottles of 250 or 500 ml, but 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 MNC ‘s have already adopted such localization techniques effectively. Sample tooth paste sachet packs with 50 gm content are now being marketed in such regions.
In US and European markets, KFC or MacDonald’s may not be considered expensive 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 centres 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 essential part of their life. No marketing strategy can ignore the strength of these sales networks. Amazon markets its products in online in Japan but are delivered through the local kombinis or convenience stores. In India, too the power of kiranas to drive sales has been proven again and again. The retailer has the power to put up point-of-purchase (POP) leaflets and hangers and also act as advisors for regular customers to choose the best products available.
10. Global marketing is not for big players alone
There is a myth that global scale marketing can only be undertaken by large companies. A translation services company in UK, Lingo24 went global by opening offices in four continents. It also localized its web content into language of the region and there boost
its total revenue from global operations to 50%. Many of the company’s 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 seen to be operating from major techno parks in India.
Considering the diversity of global markets, understanding each region may be a daunting task. Many a time companies think of other markets as extension 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 has to be done to attain good results. The translation team needs to understand the goals of the organization and what brand value is being 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 not work for online campaigns too.
Despite the many success stories one may find in global marketing several others don’t succeed because of lack of localization strategy. The INBOUND 2015 conference revealed what marketers thought about translation of content to local languages. About 48% of those who took part in the survey felt there was no budget for translation into local languages. It is an accepted fact that in many countries consumers tend to read more of branding content if it is in their native language.
A marketing campaign that does not respect local cultures, sentiments, tradition and the consumer as an individual is bound to fail. Therefore, it pays to employ local talent in marketing and branding to help understand the regional tastes and attitudes so that the right branding message is delivered in promotions.
Having consistency in brand promotions, localizing the product to the regional markets, extensive use of social media and inbound marketing, appropriate pricing and packaging will go a long way in making 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 But Colgate campaign ridiculed it but subsequently fluoride content in their pastes were reported to be high and caused concern on fluorosis. Now Colgate claims it’s new version of the tooth paste has charcoal.The Colgate-Palmolive’s FaceBook post has invited the ire of consumers who are now told that presence of charcoal in Colgate is beneficial for cleaning your teeth. Now the company says it is using ultra micro charcoal particles and always in the forefront of combining innovation with tradition.
No doubt such campaigns lead to loss of credibility and brand image which is best avoided.
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