« Think global, act local »
This phrase from the speech of René Dubos at the very first summit about environment in 1972 has become a mantra for marketers. In today’s globalized world, both traditional and newborn brands are aiming at a world-scale expansion. To ensure the brands’ a homogeneous success all around the globe, marketers need a certain flexibility to adapt to each market they decide to dive in. Even though products or services itselves are often exposed to some minor changes to adapt to different countries, most of times they remain the same, so an adapted way to advertise may be mandatory. Basically the issue could be summed up as selling two different people a coffee machine that they do not « dream » about the same way, who do not give the act of drinking the same meaning etc. A flop in a country a brand has just settled in would be the best scenario. The worst scenario being durably, or even permanently damaging said brand’s image or reputation.
An interesting case was the upload of a picture on a Instagram recently by a well known global luxury hospitality company displaying a kid dressed as a groom with a caption mentioning the hotel’s « little pages » in Shanghai. The comments backlashed with people discussing child labour in Asia. The picture was since deleted. This case, however, reveals what may be at stake for today’s marketers, and it’s sort of a big deal, such as defining right and wrong. In China, making a child contribute to the family wage is part of the culture. In Europe, it’s child labour. Which one has to prevail ? Should the brand remain loyal to the customs of its original place of birth ? Should the brand just adapt to this country she just arrived in, after all, and embrace child labour ? Whatever way you would answer, sure thing is that recruiting people trained for intercultural marketing issues will become more and more relevant within tomorrow’s companies.