A global brand has one set of values to communicate to the whole world, which makes it unique from other global brands. An inconsistent appearance dilutes this message and can confuse the receiver. One vision, one voice – one logo. But at the same time, it’s important to remember that across the nations of the world, mindsets remain different. There is no ‘one size fits all’ in branding and each market should absolutely develop its own strategy. We have all grown in different conditions and environment, both in our families, and in our countries, nature, etc. And so, we are different, less or more. And, global or not, the brand must fit all these. Even the most global brands “know” it.
India today is undoubtedly one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing economies that global brands and marketers are betting high on. With the advent of globalisation, knowledge has become the most valued ally. The Indian consumer has evolved considerably and this can be attributed to high economic growth, increase in disposable incomes and the aspiration to taste global excellence. International brands are competing to satisfy the hunger of the Indian consumers and gain their favour; however success has come to those who have given the consumers the allure of global ambience without taking them out of their comfort zone.
Brands that instantly come to mind when one speaks about glocalisation at its best are Coca-Cola, Cadbury (*now Kraft Cadbury), MTV, Google, Microsoft, Nokia and of course McDonald’s! Some have localised applications, packaging, messages, language, pricing or products to suit the local tastes and preferences of consumers.
Coca-Cola, for example, in India is sweeter than its international counterparts, keeping in mind the preference of Indian consumers. About eight years ago, Coca-Cola set out to woo rural consumers by halving the price of a 200-millilitre bottle to just Rs 5. Nokia too responded to local customer needs with the introduction of dust-resistant keypad, anti-slip grip and an in-built flash light for Indian rural consumers (specifically targeting truck drivers). The challenge is to take the ownable parts of the brand’s architecture, and bring those equities to “life” in a consumer relevant way at the local market-level.
Last year, Cadbury (now Kraft Cadbury) too has been changing recipes to improve the shelf life of some of its chocolate bars. For example, mini-packs of Dairy Milk are now made to withstand India’s heat -- which is useful in a country with many retailers who do not have refrigeration units and who have to contend with regular power outages. This strategy has not only helped Cadbury increase chocolate penetration, but consumers are also buying more.
There are very few industries that can truly ‘go global’. While global consistency in quality and support should be a driving force for all companies, equating that to one graphical image is not necessarily the same. MTV is another excellent example of localising strategy and programming in Asia. For example, MTV broadcasts on two channels with Chinese music in China and Hindi pop in India. Using joint ventures with local partners, channels are branded accordingly as MTV India, MTV Korea, MTV China and MTV Japan and use more local employees with use of local language. Google in India, knowing Indians and their craze for cricket, streams live Indian Premier League matches on its YouTube platform.
Brand direction ought to be driven by market dynamics. Microsoft launched its Windows XP software in 14 local Indian languages like Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi and more, and this has helped make the brand relevant to its Indian consumers while containing threat from its competitors.
Last, but not the least, is the brand I work for and believe this is truly an excellent example of ‘glocalisation’ in its truest sense. McDonald’s is one of the brands that has taken tremendous efforts to adapt itself to local needs and requirements. McDonald’s worldwide is well known for the high degree of respect to the local culture of each market it operates in. In line with this respect for local culture, India is the first country in the world where McDonald’s does not offer any beef or pork items. McDonald’s developed a menu especially for India with vegetarian selections to suit the Indian palate and modified global products like the McSpicy range with introducing McSpicy Paneer burger to appeal to Indian taste buds.
The world is shrinking; with Geography now becoming History, being relevant to customers is the success mantra of any global brand which tries to establish itself in the Indian market.
[Rameet Arora is Senior Director Marketing & Head - Menu Management, Hardcastle Restaurants (McDonald’s India)]