It is very seldom that I can say I venture into a McDonald’s in Toronto, maybe once a year is even a stretch to say. Not because I have anything against their menu items, or their value, but simply it has not been part of my lifestyle. When I do visit the golden arches though, I always order the same thing: Big Mac with extra pickles and Big Mac sauce. Yum! I have heard several times that McDonald’s diversifies it’s offering depending on the country they are in. Two summers ago we were in Rome, and just off the wildly popular Spanish Steps a massive McDonald’s invited tourists and locals alike. Naturally we were curious and ventured in. I went for my usual Big Mac, which I must say tasted quite different than at home. My partner on the other hand ventured off the beaten path and ordered a steak sandwich on a Foccaccia bun, and some red wine on the side, just to wash the meal down. When in Rome, right?
Keeping with the philosophy “Think Global, act Local”, companies such as McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Starbucks and countless others have been expanding to every corner of the World. However these giants faced their share of difficulties bringing their American culture to certain markets. After all, different communities hold different values, customers and religions which shape their consumption habits and restrictions. Simply changing the menu and packaging to conform to the language did not cut it.
When McDonald’s entered the Indian market in 1996, they faced the toughest challenge of all: bringing a menu of mostly beef products to a predominantly vegetarian culture. However, working with local suppliers and partners, McDonald’s altered their offering to fit the culture they entered. In other parts of the world, such as Europe, you can find beer and wine on the McDonald’s menu. In Quebec they offer poutine as homage to the French Canadian dish. However it was also important for the company to keep its core offering safe. In most instances consumers around the world can still find the classics on the menu, keeping the core Brand Values intact. Today McDonald’s serves over 69 million people a day around the globe.
Starbucks has become a daily staple around the world as well. The company has created a strong Brand Community on a global level. They too have stuck with their core offerings, adding local favourites along the way. In Canada, Starbucks has just released the newly named “True North Blend”, a Blonde Roast that has found its name after 60,000 contest submissions from coffee lovers. Kevin Reid, director of beverages at Starbucks Canada said “Canada has always had its own distinct Starbucks identity and we’re honoured to pay tribute to our consumers…”
Glocalization, a term that is not in the dictionary but seems to be widely used, is taken on differently by different brands. Coca Cola is famous for its staple product, which is consumed all over the world. The Brand Logo has a 94% recognition rate around the globe, and sticking to what they are good at seems to work for the company. Creating a local profile was approached from a different angle by the beverage giant. They have been helping communities grow by raising funds for charities and creating community involvement for children of all ages.
5 Steps for Brands to follow for a smooth transition into a new market:
1. Research – understand your new market, who your consumers will be
2. Adaptability – be open to specializing your offering and your values based on the community
3. Medium – know your channels, as your new consumers might consume media differently
4. Humility – be ready to be humble, as you enter a market where your local competitors have the home turf
5. Blend in – become part of the community
Global brands can become of local tradition by showing flexibility in their offering. This can be achieved without jeopardizing the overall Brand Values and Core Competency.
Other fun products available only in other parts of the world:
– Red Bean Sandwich, Purple Sweet Potato, Edemame – Kit Kat flavours in Japan
– Pizza Dough Kit Kat pops – Pizza Hut offering in the Middle East
– Fried Chicken Potato Chips – KFC offering in Japan
– Ice Cucumber – Pepsi Flavour in Japan
– Citrus Blast Tooth Paste – Colgate flavour in India
– Blue Cheese Mayo – Heinz flavour in the UK