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Balancing the Scales of a Globalization & Localization Marketing Approach

December 29, 2022
Balancing the Scales of a Globalization & Localization Marketing Approach

Brands are always assessing new marketing approaches to expand their reach and permeate new markets. One to strongly consider is a balanced approach focusing on the tenants of both globalization marketing and marketing localization. Approaching global marketing with a local lens might sound counterintuitive, but it can actually greatly benefit brands in the long run.

In fact, making a brand relatable to various, specific audience targets (localization) while still maintaining a holistic and all-encompassing brand concept (globalization) is the holy grail for marketers. Look no further than the “Share a Coke with…” campaign from Coca-Cola as an example of this. By thinking and planning globally while adapting and executing locally, brands can amplify their influence across different geographies while ensuring brand consistency remains intact.

What It Means to Be a Global Brand

Global brands draw much of their power from connecting communities across drastically different demographics through common values or universal human truths. It’s this shared appeal, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or personal persuasion, that allows a truly global brand to link consumers to a singular, unified mission statement. A brand’s influence can extend far beyond its own efforts if it establishes a great experience or builds trust with its customers and communities.

Now more than ever, brands rely on these communities and groundswell movements like social media, review sites, peer recommendations, and reputable subject matter experts to build credibility and engage their customer base. In essence, a brand’s engaged customers thus transform into brand ambassadors and utilize digital platforms to spread a brand’s message and reach even further.

For brands looking to take that first global-facing step, dialing in on a target audience by developing a comprehensive audience persona is critical. When a brand knows exactly who they’re speaking to, the needs of those people, and how it can fulfill those needs, it can then easily turn someone from a prospect into a customer and an adopter into a full-fledged brand advocate. Once a brand establishes that connection with its audience, it’s important to maintain it and provide the same brand experience to each customer no matter who or where they are. The foundation of that is a rock-solid brand identity that is upheld across every market and touchpoint.

This level of brand consistency can be accomplished by reinforcing the identity and mission of the brand in every piece of collateral it puts out and making sure it’s always relevant to the audience it serves. It’s the reason millions of people can look at the image of a white mermaid in a green circle and know it’s Starbucks or hear the phrase “have it your way” and know it’s Burger King.

Key Benefits of Globalization Marketing

Brands that implement a successful globalization marketing strategy are likely to experience these benefits:

Increased Brand Visibility

When you tap into globalization marketing, you will achieve greater brand visibility. This strategy allows your brand to become more discoverable and gives you a wider reach to people you may not have engaged before, which can lead to more conversions.

Increased Revenue

An increase in profit is a logical extension of increased visibility and conversions. While you may need to invest in your globalization marketing strategy upfront, you will see a return on your investment.

In many cases, that return will include an increase in your profitability. This comes from getting your products and services out there in a way that resonates with different communities.

A Boost in Your Digital Footprint

Globalization marketing allows you to break through the geographical barriers that may have limited your brand’s online presence, boosting your digital footprint. Essentially, you create a larger platform to engage in marketing.

A Larger Target Audience

Marketing on a global scale gives you a larger audience to reach. To experience the benefits of this, you will need to revisit your targeting strategy and possibly develop new customer personas. Once you do so, you will likely find that you are reaching prospects who were not accessible to you previously.

Facilitated Growth

Your globalization marketing strategy can put you in a better position to expand into new markets. You can better understand the people and cultures you are trying to reach. This will help you make more profitable decisions in the areas of:

  • Audience targeting
  • Product development and improvement
  • Digital Marketing
  • Recruiting and hiring
  • Building relationships with local business partners

You will also gain insights and experiences that will drive your success as you grow your brand.

More Successful Navigation of Cultural Barriers

Geographic and cultural barriers exist, but globalization marketing helps you build a foundation to navigate those challenges. Your efforts to research, plan, and ultimately connect with customers in new regions will be rewarded. You won’t simply have a larger audience; you will also have an audience that feels connected to your brand.

Potential Globalization Challenges

It’s worthwhile to pursue a globalization marketing strategy. However, there are a few challenges you may need to navigate in the process. It is recommended that an organization do in-depth research on each of the below challenges to ensure the best chance of success:

More Competition

As you move into new regions, you’ll have new customers to reach. You’ll also be faced with additional competitors. Some of them may have the advantage of having already established a regional foothold. Your marketing strategy should definitely include a competitive analysis.

Cultural and Language Barriers

Language and potential cultural barriers can create a bigger roadblock to global expansion than many businesses anticipate. It’s important to have the budget and resources in place to overcome these barriers.

Intellectual Property Issues

Once you enter new markets and begin experiencing some success, you may encounter intellectual property issues, with other companies attempting to copy your products.

This will often be combined with efforts to undercut your prices. Depending on the business climate and regulations in that particular area, you may have limited recourse.

Financial Pressures

Marketing costs money in any scenario, and for creating and executing a globalization marketing strategy from the ground up, those costs can be substantial. You’ll also need to summon the appropriate workforce and dedicate adequate time to these efforts.

Appeal to Untapped Global Markets with Localization Tactics

Penetrating new markets worldwide should happen at a hyperlocal level specific to that area. When it comes to marketing localization, it’s essentially a subset of personalization. A brand would be hard-pressed to find an instance where making their experience more personalized to an individual, group, or community/locale is detrimental.

For brands looking to tap into new markets around the world, or simply ensure they remain relevant in a given area, the focus should be on connecting individuals and communities with criteria that are unique to a specific localized market. It’s all about meeting the individualized needs of an audience in a given area while still retaining the overall purpose and perception of the brand as a whole.

After all, the crucial component of any successful localized marketing strategy is a regional understanding of that audience and landscape.

One way to gain that understanding is to perform in-depth market research and collect information in a given area around brand perception. This can help brands understand why a customer or client chooses them over someone else, highlighting both key differentiators and competitor gaps/weaknesses to fill.

From there, simply scaling that down to a local level to speak more persuasively to a specific audience can significantly help a brand break into a new market. On a more executional front, brands could consider employing local marketing automation for faster, more efficient geo-specific targeting once that nuanced message is solidified.

Balancing the Scales in Action

Fortunately, any marketing team in search of examples or inspiration is in luck. Many brands have made it through this process and achieved stellar results.

Successful Global Marketing Results

There are two global brands that stand out when it comes to effective global marketing. Both are in different industries, but each exemplifies how research and awareness can lead to successful global expansion.

REI Hyperlocalization

To get a better understanding of brands that have effectively expanded globally through localized execution, look no further than REI’s marketing endeavors. The overarching theme or identity of REI’s brand is to get people active outside.

Each of their locations accomplishes this mission by creating programs that meet the needs of the members of that region at a hyperlocal level. Not only does this strategy emphasize global concepts and principles such as fitness, exercise, and the outdoors, but it also enables each of their local branches to reinforce their vision with specific community interests and maintain brand consistency to boot.

McDonald’s India

Another example is the global fast food chain McDonald’s. Operating in 118 countries and with a slogan (“I’m lovin’ it”) and logo (two golden arches) that are instantly recognizable, McDonald’s is the true definition of a global brand. But it didn’t get to where it is today by not boiling its marketing down to a more micro level. Case in point, this brand predominantly known as a burger chain operates in India of all places, where the cow is a sacred, religious symbol.

Instead of avoiding that large, influential market altogether, McDonald’s adapted its approach while still maintaining its brand and opening meat-free restaurants across the country. This proved that the McDonald’s brand stretches far beyond one product offering.

Global Marketing Failures

Some brands have experienced significant failures in their efforts to expand.

Walmart Germany

Walmart’s failures in its efforts to enter the German market happened in the late nineties. However, the missteps were so significant that it’s still used as a research topic among business students.

Walmart fell short in many areas, but its attempts to apply American cultural norms to the workplace may have been most notable. These attempts included:

  • Placing smiling greeters at entrances
  • Mandatory participation in company “spirit” activities
  • An ethics code requiring employees to report one another for violations

The company also faced accusations of regulatory violations. These included scheduling workers for too many hours, paying below the minimum wage, and predatory pricing.

Airbnb China

Airbnb will exit China by the end of 2022. This concludes seven years of trying to establish a foothold.

What went wrong? Officially, the pandemic and China’s closed borders are getting the blame. However, that doesn’t really explain away the company’s inability to build a customer base among the country’s domestic travelers.

The reality is that there was a combination of cultural missteps, failure to create a truly localized customer journey, and regulatory issues. For example, the company struggled significantly to sell target customers to allow strangers to stay in their homes.

Additionally, Airbnb failed to recognize how Chinese consumers shop for and purchase products by not considering that DIY travel isn’t the norm in Chinese tourism and by delaying the integration of WeChat and AliPay.

While the pandemic was a factor, the final blow may have been China’s regulatory crackdown on tech companies in 2021.

Maintaining the Global-Local Balance

At the end of the day, the most successful brands deploy big-picture marketing initiatives that prioritize overall scale and footprint. Many facets of these campaigns are executed at a local level and constantly adapt in order to appeal to specific target audiences. What results is increased local market penetration and greater expansion of global brand awareness and perception. Maintaining this balance is no easy feat, but luckily there are tools and solutions available to help. Discover how a brand management tool can help establish, maintain, and protect brand identity and consistency while offering greater business intelligence by exploring MarcomCentral’s solution here.