There is no such thing as a global market. Why, then, does everyone talk so much about global marketing? The answer, in a nutshell, is that while there is no single global market, there is a world full of local markets that are open to global brands.
Therefore, a successful global market penetration plan has two fundamental components. One is localization—connecting to customers in new markets where they live and shop. This means speaking the customers’ language, both literally and figuratively. The other equally vital component is preserving unified effort and avoiding fragmentation of the brand.
The Customer at the Door
Fast food franchise McDonald’s is a leading example of a brand that has connected around the world while preserving its brand identity. A McDonald’s outlet anywhere is instantly recognizable, even if you cannot read the script in which its sign is written. Yet at the same time, a McDonald’s in Paris or Mumbai is not the same as the one around the corner from you (unless you happen to be in Paris or Mumbai).
According to Business Insider, McDonald’s has achieved one of its most outstanding successes in France, which is the company’s second-largest profit center after the United States. At first glance, McDonald’s in France seemed like it would be a tough sell. France has a famously distinctive culinary tradition, and at one time, McDonald’s was greeted there with active hostility.
In response, “the company started explaining why it belonged in French society,” emphasizing local ingredients and restructuring its menus to appeal to the tastes of local customers. At the same time, the shifts were not so extreme as to undermine the brand identity of McDonald’s.
Localization without Fragmentation
Every brand and product has its own character, identity and distinctive potential appeal to new customers in a world of local markets. In other words, every brand is different. Even a fast food company positioning itself in France would not simply imitate McDonald’s.
At the same time, similar fundamental lessons apply. A global market positioning strategy needs to reach out to all those local markets without losing touch with the brand itself.
You need to connect with customers not “globally,” but at their local door. This applies even to brands sold online. This means connecting with their tastes, habits, and outlook—speaking their language, in the broad sense. At the same time, localization should not—and need not—lead to fragmentation. Even as companies learn to speak the local language, their localized branches need to continue to speak to each other as well.
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