‘To go global or to go local, that is the question.’ Well, it is certainly a question often asked by many brand managers and marketing directors around the world. And there is compelling evidence to go either direction. A recent study by McCann Worldwide called “The Truth About Global Brands,” uncovers the complexity of this particular question.
While an overwhelming majority of people in the 30,000 person study fielded in 29 countries feel that global brands have the ability to make the world a better place (88% globally, with a striking 91% in China), there is a growing number of people that feel their country has lost/is losing its culture in the face of globalization (68%). And 85% feel deep pride in their country’s identity.
In the 4th Annual Brand Africa 100, its still clear that global brands dominate the minds and hearts of the African consumer: 77% of the top brands in Africa were imports, however MTN (the African mobile carrier) still tops the list as the most loved brand in the continent (with Apple as the most valuable). So maybe in Africa we are still fans of global brands. But I think this will change in the coming years and I think McCann is on to something as we see the creative economy influencing the millennial/younger generation in Africa to embrace locality, with Nollywood overcoming the influence of Hollywood, music from Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, and other African nations topping the music charts, fashion trends embracing historical trends, etc.
McCann has gone so far, as advertising agencies do, to label the new trend in how brands need to rethink globalization – similar to “going glocal” or “glocalization,” McCann is touting their new mindset as “Deep Globality” and it is based on three principles:
In today’s global world, every local action can cause a global reaction. While this presents amazing opportunities for brands, it can also cause real consequences if not done properly. Given this complex landscape – coupled with the imperative for brands to go global – we need to rethink how we expand and operate in multiple markets. How should global brands, and those with global ambitions, think about their path to globality? In this study, we explore the key components of a global framework, and how brands can leverage these elements to their advantage.
2) EARN OUR WAY INTO CULTURE
The new age of globality means brands have a responsibility to be additive to a culture, rather than reductive. The Truth about Global Brands reveals a set of universal truths we believe enable people to achieve a more meaningful existence. However, these truths manifest themselves differently in nuanced ways across settings, relationships, ideas and media, including digital. While Love may unite people all over the world, an Argentinian person says “I love you” 24 times a week, while a Japanese person says it less than once a week! How can brands navigate these seemingly disparate culture behaviors successfully and earn their way into cultures around the world?
3) INSPIRE CREATIVE THAT TRAVELS
In today’s more global world, ideas can come from anywhere and go anywhere. With content moving at break-neck speed, there is a great need for great ideas to travel well. Why do some ideas become “hits,” while other perfectly engineered ideas never really make it? We spoke to the creator of the hit show Downton Abbey, watched with cult fanaticism in countries around the world. Despite it’s viewership in countries as dissimilar as China and America, its success lies in its loyalty to its authentic English self. We look to understand how and why ideas travel, and setting up the conditions for greatness.
As Luca Lindner, president of McCann Worldwide puts it:
This requires thoughtfully spreading a brand, idea or movement across multiple markets while actively enriching the receiving culture. It involves understanding that global brand marketing is about clues, not rules, requiring a careful honing of pattern-recognition skills. It means moving beyond cultural stereotypes, and being aware of surprising connections (or dissonance) between countries.
Our condom brands in East Africa must embrace this new thinking before we swing too far to the trend of globalization. As we try to drive efficiencies by achieving economies of scale, centralizing our efforts, it’s important to remind ourselves that our offerings must participate in the local dialogue and add value to the culture. Whether it’s through taking a stand on an important and relevant issue for the brand (think of Dettol’s CSR work in Africa and Asia, supporting hygiene and heart health amongst youth or Durex’s pseudo-support of sexual health and overcoming stigmas on condom use), or simply starting a conversation about things that again are relevant to the brand and matter to our consumers (think of Luvs Diapers work that embraces their product as the cheaper product for savvy second time mothers, who know better than worrying about every small detail of child rearing).
Check out the work being done by McCann Worldwide on the Truth About Global Brands here.