In the past couple of decades more so in the past decade companies have aggressively globalized. They have followed the mantra wider the better. So as companies expand their borders to tap in to new markets with the help of relatively cheap credit, they must also keep an eye on maintaining local relevance. With the exception of luxury brands most of other products are bought off from the shelf by local dwellers. Let’s take the example of Xiome; it needed a champion marketing strategy to break into the Indian market because it lacked local relevance. It may be the Apple of China but an enigma had to be created amongst the Indian customers to make it relevant to them.
The present scenario in developed market is stagnated. It becomes almost impossible for a new company to enter into it because of its oligopolistic nature. Only a new idea or a new concept can make relative inroads into it. So while the entry gets restricted the existing players have to battle it out amongst themselves to get a share of the available flesh. This is where local relevance comes in. You have to look at the brand’s image from a macro as well as a micro perspective. Globalization provides that macro perspective wherein a brand receives adulation and reverence both amongst its customers and peers. That does give your brand a certain push but final sales happen at the local level, hence one needs to develop a micro perspective by staying relevant to the local customer.
Now when it comes to the developing markets there are still a lot of opportunities that exist in them. The companies are making huge investments into these markets. But any international brand has to make sense to the local customers. It has to develop a value chain which the locals can identify with. Different people in different places have different objectives of buying a product. A 100 cc motorcycle while marketing itself needs to answer the whys of the local customers. It has to position itself in the minds of the customers in a way that they can connect their needs to the value proposition of the product.
Nintendo was able to do a great job at this. Though it was a Japanese company it understood that a huge market existed in west, it came up with games which had western characters, western settings and western lifestyles, for example Mario was an Italian Plumber. Maggi’s value offerings vary from country to country. In Singapore for example non-veg Maggis retain the aroma for the animal they are made from. Prawn magi would actually smell like uncooked prawn. A McDonald’s top draw in the west maybe it’s hamburger but for obvious reasons it isn’t even present on the menu in India. Hence the marketing strategy of a company must focus on targeting the local needs.
HeroHonda’s amalgamation of a local favourite and international powerhouse did a brilliant job at that. It identified a need for a bike that was inexpensive and fuel efficient at the same time. It immediately appeal to the global customers and went on to set international records. Bajaj did that with its humara Bajaj ad campaigns. It’s first ad campaign for Chetak aimed at the then Indian middle class, people were ready to wait for six months to own an ‘our’ Bajaj. Their next ad in early 2000s was for the rising IT professionals with disposable income. It showed that though young India is becoming a world beater but still they respected their culture and are rooted in it. And the final one was about the joy of riding the machines and the fact that we are continuously getting ahead of ourselves.
The writing on the wall is clear on this issue, you may be a force to reckon with internationally, but if you sell a product that is bought by masses you better start making sense to local consumer. Hence, a marketing campaign needs to address the local requirements and related with the local sentiments.
‘Market in Rome as the Romans do’