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Consequences of deglobalization vs. globalization for brands

39 Comments · Marketing Research

The growing variety of market needs forces managers of global brands to run locally adapted strategies.

One such company, which is famous for practising globalization at its best, is running a more and more locally oriented strategy.

Nearly everyone thinks that Coca-Cola offers its soft drink Coke in an identical quality worldwide, but this is not true.

For example, in the Arab world, consumers prefer soft drinks to be sweeter than in Europe.

So Coca-Cola had to adapt its products for Arab countries. In a similar vein, Coca-Cola of Germany no longer implements the global marketing strategy developed by its headquarters.

The German subsidiary developed a country-specific series of commercials, which show a “hidden” kind of eroticism.

These commercials intend to attract more teens and “tweens” by emphasizing the connection between the soft drink and the “coolness” of younger German consumers. Coca-Cola could not show such “erotic” commercials on US television.

As a consequence of mad-cow disease in Europe, international fast-food-giants such as McDonald’s and Burger King have been forced to modify their global strategic orientation.

Hamburgers are no longer the focus of marketing campaigns. Instead of “Big Macs” and “Whoppers,” European markets emphasized “Chicken Wings,” “Fish Weeks,” and “Bacon Toasts.”

Although this strategic redesign is not driven by a return to country specific values and attitudes, it is the consequence of a similar cause.

Firms relying only on pure global strategies will have to learn the lessons of falling profits in a diversifying world market.

Various cases illustrate the need for a high degree of flexibility and the ability to adapt to local specifications.

Taken together, these forces could be viewed as indicators of an economic and social future that is by no means a one-way road towards global products, services and brands.

On the contrary, “de-globalization” is likely to occur. As the history of cultural dimensions such as arts, architecture or literature shows, long-term development in these fields has followed a pattern, which is similar to the swing of a pendulum.

International marketing research needs to consider local differences and nuances in design, respondent availability, field execution, and data quality. Data collection methodology may have to vary from country to country.

Interviewing services with facilities in shopping centers don’t exist in most countries. Interviewing is done at home with interviewers going door-to-door; by street intercepts where the respondent is invited to a meeting room or hall; or by pre-recruitment.

The use of telephone interviews in individual homes varies a lot; in some countries it is as low as 10 percent.

In Japan, where telephone interviews are not a problem, it is considered discourteous to conduct a lengthy interview.

The way in which respondents interact with interviewers varies greatly; in some lesser developed countries, there is a desire to please the interviewer.

This, along with other cultural differences, results in the variation in scaling. Differences also exist between “no answer” and “refused.”

While Western Europe has different social classes, the lines between them are less distinctive than in other countries.

In Latin America, it is difficult to approach the upper socio-economic classes because of physical barriers such as houses with gates and the intervening servants.

Always check with locals about the dynamics and nuances of different socio-economic groups.

This holds true in qualitative research in which mixing of social classes will at minimum be unproductive.

In some countries, mixing genders does not work, and in some Middle Eastern countries males are not allowed to interview females (Frevert, 2000).

Before defining the international marketing research problem, the researcher must isolate and examine the effect of the self-reference criterion (SRC), or the unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values (Lee, 1966; Malhotra, Agarwal and Peterson, 1996).

For example, attitudes to time vary considerably across cultures. In Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, people are not as time-conscious as westerners.

This influences their perceptions of and preferences for convenience foods such as frozen foods and prepared dinners.

How could marketing research be explained and be related to the marketing concept?

Keywords: global brands, global marketing,


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