Active globalization

5 Junio 2013

We often tend to overlook one fundamental aspect of the globalization process, and that is that the consumers of various nations will still “insist” on being different from one another in terms of taste, buying habits and the use of products and services. And this is a reality that globalized brands, even the most powerful ones, must resign themselves to taking into consideration, adapting and hybridising their products to suit the different market situations in which they operate.
Coca Cola, that iconic symbol of global homogenisation, alters its sugar content from one country to another, adjusting it to please the palate of the consumer. In India, homeland to the sacred cow, the temple of carnivores McDonald’s is trying out an exclusively vegetarian fast food format. Also in India, Unilever is opening up the market by offering personal care products in one-use sizes or small packs with low unit prices, in order to meet the demands of customers who want to enjoy the quality and glamour of global consumer good brands but who can only afford to spend a small amount of money on each single purchase. The extreme manifestation of this phenomenon is to be found at the sales outlets, which faithfully reflect the tastes and buying habits of the consumers and which must vary from country to country in terms of both display and product range. As an example of this particular occurrence, it’s only necessary to compare a couple of outlets belonging to 7 Eleven, a name that’s synonymous with the convenience store and one of the most internationalised examples in the world. If we look at the outlets in Tokyo and  Copenhagen, for instance, we find a very different range of what’s on offer: in Japan, prevalently hot meals, soft drinks, Manga comics, and even machines for printing business cards; in Denmark, sweet and savoury snacks, hot drinks and newspapers. Shop layout and corporate image, however, are identical: restricted space, speed of purchase, shelf readability and maximum simplicity.
This exemplifies today’s international brands: on the one hand, the need to incorporate the common fundamental elements that make up the basic skeleton of the format, and on the other the ability to differentiate, blending the brand into the local environment and adapting its identity to the particular micro-market in which it is being sold.  
In other words: active globalization. Is this, do you think, the right way forward?