I first heard the phrase “Glocalisation” nearly 20 years ago when I worked with one of the world’s leading retailers. While giving an “Introduction to International Marketing” seminar to a group of ambitious start-ups last week, I found myself using it as the foundation for our session.
The concept is a simple one – make a global offering locally relevant. Let’s be honest, has there ever really been a time when this wasn’t important? No, is the answer. Not for the first company who ever set sail for a foreign market and certainly not for any exporting or internationally expanding company today.
We’ve always favoured a company who has made us feel important enough to speak our language when they’re selling to us, and I don’t just mean in my case, English. Speaking a customer’s language is about knowing what they value and making sure it’s part of your mix. Recognising the differences between your customer groups and caring enough to make them feel like you’re not just pushing a one-size-fits-all solution.
Becoming a success has its challenges. You need to manufacture in a way that will not hurt animals, plants, insects, the air or soil, but be all natural and biodegradable as long as you’re not supposed to be reusable, then you also need to be recyclable. You should produce locally to minimise carbon-footprints, but using only the best the world has to offer while giving everyone the opportunity to experience luxury at a price so low that you can’t be beaten by a knock-off online supplier. You need to be authentic, never before seen, but classic. You need to say the right thing, at the right time, everywhere, but not too often. You need to know everything about your customer, while asking nothing. You need to make them feel secure, but anonymous and to be able to confirm that you’ve forgotten them if they ask. You need to make them feel proud to be associated with your brand while not stepping on the toes of the local heritage brands. You need to understand that the impact of a war fought 100 years ago can still be felt today and which side you need to be on.
This taste of the some-what crazy, but required marketing mix, is hard enough to get right when you are dealing with a customer that is at least from your hometown, never mind a different language, time-zone, climate, culture, technology, political system or currency.
But you can get it right. Companies do all the time. You do it by asking questions and assuming nothing. You start by realising your home market is not the only or the best way for things operate and you open yourself up to the idea that we’re not all the same in this global village we call home.
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