Glocalization strategy: a key approach to international sales

Have you ever wondered what makes a company from a particular country succeed on the other side of the world or globally? The so-called glocalization strategy is at the heart of the international success of major brands. This article will explain what glocalization means so that you too can apply this international strategy to your business and make it grow beyond your borders.


What is glocalization?

A glocalization strategy is when a brand is committed to cross-border sales, considering the peculiarities of the area where it wants to sell.

Simply put, in business terms, glocalising refers to customising and adapting global or standard business patterns to local or particular conditions.

The word glocal, as its name suggests, comes from the union of the terms “global” and “local”. The mindset of companies pursuing a glocal strategy is based on the familiar idea of thinking globally, acting locally.

The first to implement a glocal marketing strategy were Japanese entrepreneurs in the 1980s. They called it dochakuka, which in Japanese means “he who lives off his own land”.

A good glocalization will ensure that your brand, regardless of its origin, can be perceived as part of a country’s everyday life.


Glocalization examples

There have been cases of foreign brands that have become a complete icon of a country’s culture. This is due to a particularly good glocal marketing strategy. Some of the best-known examples are:

  • McDonald’s: Who doesn’t know this company? Today it is present in around 100 countries and has almost 36,000 restaurants worldwide. One of the most important factors behind its success has been its ability to adapt to the territories where it expands. Its menus are modified depending on the country’s particular tastes. In Japan, for example, they created cod-flavoured potatoes, and in India, where part of the population is vegetarian or vegan, they created their potato and pea burger.
  • Coca-Cola: In this case, the glocal strategy focuses on another crucial aspect to reach the territory’s culture. This company analyses the messages that resonate best in each territory and then reflects them in its advertising campaigns, thus reaching audiences more directly and effectively.
  • PepsiCo: This company is a clear example of how to act when faced with a failure in this type of strategy. In the 1970s, its orange soft drink Mirinda was not as successful as expected in the Spanish market. Instead of persisting or admitting defeat, the company opted to buy Kas, a well-established soft drink company in the country to keep on with business in another way. Today, Mirinda is still sold in many territories, but not in Spain.


How to implement a glocalization strategy

At this point, you may be wondering what steps are needed to implement glocal strategies in your business so that it can thrive, no matter which market it enters.

Here are three fundamental elements of any international strategy and how you can adapt them glocally to make your landing in a foreign market a successful one.

Give maximum importance to storytelling

In the development of any glocalization process, a good storytelling adapted to the territory cannot be missing. In any advertising campaign and even in some publications on social networks or in the creation of a website, storytelling will be present, but not just any storytelling will be enough.

Depending on the country, some cultures will accept more sentimental messages, while others are more daring or transgressive. For example, in Spain, direct advertising that does not hesitate to stir up emotions and pull at the heartstrings of the viewer is more deeply rooted. However, in Latin America, commercials tend to be friendlier and much less emotionally charged.


hofstede - compare countries - glocal


Knowing these cultural differences is crucial to guide the tone of our brand and our message in each territory. However, this does not mean that we cannot take risks, although we must be aware of them.

Keep local customs in mind

Companies take advantage of major global holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day or the arrival of a new season to launch special products, unique promotions or advertising campaigns.

However, when launching a commercial strategy in a given country, the particular festivities and customs of each area must also be considered.

Carnival in Venice, Fallas in Valencia, St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Chinese New Year or Oktoberfest are all local festivals that must be taken into account in our marketing strategy if you want to sell cross-border.

But be careful! Sometimes local festivities have ended up spreading to other countries. This is the case of Oktoberfest, which is already celebrated in other countries besides Germany. Research should be carried out to make a good marketing plan in these situations.

Proper communication in the native language

Of course, a good glocal strategy cannot be properly implemented if our brand does not communicate with consumers in their native language. This is a trust signal in any international ecommerce.

It is important in these cases to rely on translation services for corporate materials such as Ontranslation to avoid making mistakes that could cost your brand its reputation or trust.

Also, don’t forget that using idioms and expressions to get closer to your audience is a fundamental part of any good glocalisation work.


Cultural glocalization: a way to make your company more sustainable

Nowadays, concern for the environment is increasingly widespread. Consumers are increasingly demanding that companies have values such as environmentalism. Brands that ignore this social issue are condemned to receive a great deal of criticism and to be severely damaged.

Therefore, by implementing a glocalization strategy in your business, you can steer your company towards a more sustainable path. But how?

Glocalisation does not only have to be present in the marketing strategy, but can also be present in other areas, such as production.

Producing in the country where you want to expand or using local raw materials is a form of glocalisation, and at the same time, a way to make your production processes more sustainable.

Cooperating with local companies or helping humanitarian organizations in the country can be other such methods.

Glocalisation is a way to highlight the importance of the local in a globalised world and also a strategy to reduce your carbon footprint.

About the author

Teresa H. Santacreu

Formada como jurista y politóloga, acabó descubriendo que su verdadera pasión era la comunicación, con lo que se decantó por especializarse en Periodismo Internacional. Gracias a todo ello, se atreve a escribir en este blog sobre cualquier tema: traducción, internacionalización, cultura…

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