Today international organisations are competing harder than ever to expand their business by increasingly penetrating new markets on a global scale. However, selling across cultures requires companies to have an extensive understanding of the culture they are dealing with. Consumers’ attitudes and expectations differ widely across cultures and organisations cannot sell a product in the same way in two different markets. These differences have to be taken into account when doing business abroad or else companies can face huge financial and reputation losses.
Some opponents of globalisation argue that the influence of western brands on a global scale has created a sort of homogenous culture. The term of McDonalidisation reinforces this idea and describes the situation where McDonald’s invade local markets and bring about the loss of local customs and traditions because of tough competition. The same goes for global successful brands such as Starbucks or Disney.
This cultural homogeneity is not a reality, however, because brands have to adapt to local cultures, and not the other way round. Without any cultural sensitivity and cultural adjustment when selling across cultures, companies have little chance to succeed. Renault’s setback in India with the Logan car or Carrefour’s failure to integer the Mexican market have proved that. To be successful on a global scale, brands have to take local tastes into account.
Companies are increasingly aware of this and therefore try to ‘glocalize’ their products. This means that they are producing on a global scale but every product is personalised in order to suit specific cultures or tastes. The concept of ‘glocalisation’, a combination of globalisation and localisation, is increasingly being adopted by global brands. Many now acknowledge the vital need to truly understand potential clients’ requirements and expectations across cultures.
Looking at the two examples of McDonald’s Starbucks we can see how they have done just that. As McDonald’s franchises are locally owned, they are able to propose different menus depending on local tastes and habits so you may find a McBurrito in Mexico, McFalafel in Egypt and mutton burgers in India. Starbucks also tries to sell ‘glocalised products’: pastries come from local suppliers and during the Dragon Boat festival in China, Starbucks proposed specific Cantonese pancakes. In this case, Starbucks is being ‘asianised’ rather than Asia being ‘uniformised’.
Taking part in a Selling across Cultures training course is an excellent way to learn and understand the cultural factors at stake when penetrating new markets. This training will help you to develop your intercultural competence and understanding of other cultures so that you can adapt your products appropriately. By understanding the expectations and purchasing motives of your international customers, you will be able to create the best marketing strategy for your products and ensure that they will be welcomed.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2013