A glocalization strategy helps give your brand a local flavor and flair when entering new markets, so that customers from different countries can better relate to your messaging, products and services. In other words, glocalization makes your global brand feel local while maintaining its international appeal. 

Here’s how to build a successful glocalization strategy to ensure your brand connects with local audiences worldwide, plus three glocal strategy examples from Tesco, KFC and Barbie.

How to build a successful glocalization strategy

An image of KFC in China in an article mentioning KFCs glocalization strategy

Consumers today want companies to recognize their needs and create products and services just for them—no matter how big the brand is. Think about how McDonald’s customizes its menu for audiences worldwide, from offering kosher Big Macs in Israel to the Chicken Maharaja Mac in India. 

That’s why successful marketing in another country requires more than translating your messages and campaigns. You need to transcreate and localize (more on that below). Your goal should be to ingrain your brand into the country’s culture and make it feel local

A glocalization strategy helps you build a brand that feels both global and local at the same time. While you produce the same global products and services at an international level, you modify them to meet local norms and preferences.

One of the major benefits of glocalization is that it helps you gain trust from your local customers. They’ll appreciate that you’re an international brand, but still putting in the extra effort to show that you understand their needs and local climate.

Need a few quick glocalization examples? Glocalization varies from car brands adjusting their steering wheel placement for each country (i.e. in the UK they drive on the left side of the road; in the US on the right) to electronic companies localizing their plugs and fast-food outlets adapting their menu to suit local tastes.

No matter which route of glocalization you take, here are a few key pointers to follow while working on your glocalization strategy.

See also: Global marketing standardization vs. localization: A helpful guide

1. Get to know your audience really well

Glocalization emphasizes the local preferences and needs of each target audience. That’s why your first step requires getting to know your audience in each region. 

We’re talking about really getting under their skin and understanding your audience on a deeper level—from their biggest needs, interests, challenges and frustrations to their cultural references and general way of living. You need to work with people who live, breathe and speak with locals every day—even better, people who are locals.

Let’s go back to the McDonald’s example above. Their glocalization strategy includes figuring out the preferred local tastes of each market they operate in, and customizing their menu accordingly.

And what’s the best way to do that? It’s by understanding the local cuisine, exploring local ingredients and flavors and speaking with a wide range of people in the country.

Not everyone will have the same preferences, so you need a broad snapshot of your audience to truly understand the target market as a whole.   

See also: International audience research methods: How to reach new markets effectively

2. Test then tweak: Take things slow

When it comes to implementing a glocalization strategy, there is no reason to rush. In fact, it’s far better to take things slow. Gradually start testing different glocal products, services and advertising campaigns. The more glocal products and services you implement, the more information you’ll gather that you can use to improve your marketing strategies.

Netflix is the perfect example of slowly implementing a glocalization strategy. While they launched into 130 new countries at the same time in 2016, they actually started with the easiest country first way back in 2010—Canada. This market was strategically chosen due to being close and reasonably similar to the US.

By first developing a glocalization strategy in a less challenging environment, they learned what to consider when entering a new market. They then applied those learnings as they started entering foreign markets.

It’s also important to remember that you glocalization strategy should continue to evolve as the local environment changes. Trends come and go, new interests emerge and living conditions change—so should your glocal product.

Netflix launches in Canada, starting their global expansion

3. Invest in high-quality transcreation

Translation is a major part of glocalization, but transcreation is even more important. Transcreation involves recreating brand messaging to adapt it to local markets by incorporating language, culture and emotion. It makes the content relevant and relatable—whether it’s your multilingual content marketing, global product packaging, service offerings or customer care content.

Looking at Netflix again, their global strategy includes creating original content that reflects the local culture. Netflix’s local catalogs play a key role in the streaming platform attracting foreign audiences.

See also: Marketing translation: Engaging audiences in their own language

Example of Polish local content available on the Netflix Poland catalog.
Example of Polish local content available on the Netflix Poland catalog.

Tip: Don’t underestimate the complexity and importance of high-quality translations and localization practices. It’s best to either build an experienced localization team or work with a transcreation agency that understands your markets. 

4. Continually evolve and collaborate with locals

If you want long-term success in a country, you need to continually adapt your products and services to reflect the local market. Glocalization is an ongoing process that requires a dedicated team to remain on the pulse with current trends and needs in the region.

Use your data to analyze what is and isn’t working and collaborate with locals as much as possible—we really can’t emphasize this enough!

At VeraContent, we work with local professionals who are native-speaking and based in the countries our clients are targeting. Local collaborators are the link between global brands and their international audiences.

See also: Native language marketing: The benefits of local knowledge

Do you want to take your brand global? Download our free guide on how to adapt your content strategy to local markets for a head start guide.

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Glocalization strategy examples

Here are a few popular glocal strategy examples of brands that have launched into markets worldwide.

See also: Glocalization: What it means and which brands are doing it best

Tesco glocalization strategy

Stroll through any Tesco in a foreign country, and the aisles will feel extremely local. For example, in Czech Republic, you’ll find shelves packed with pickles, sausages and local beer—differing from what you’d expect when visiting a Tesco in the UK.

The cornerstone of Tesco’s glocalization strategy is exporting culturally customized versions of its marketing and merchandising formula for local hypermarkets. For Tesco to be accepted in a foreign market, shopping there must become part of people’s routines. And for that to happen, it needs to feel natural and not too exotic. Local consumers want to recognize products, understand labels and easily find their local favorites—which is exactly what Tesco has done.

Although they’ve been successful in many global markets, they’ve also had to pull out of a few—including the US, Poland, France and all Asian countries. This shows that while you may have a solid glocalization strategy, there are many factors at play for a brand to have long-term global success.

Tesco also recently found themselves in hot water in the Czech Republic after a translation mistake on the ingredients listed on a chocolate drink. One of the ingredients listed, chocolate powder, was translated as “čokoládový prašek,” which means “chocolate powder.” However, Czech law requires that food labels refer to it as “čokoláda v prašku,” meaning “chocolate in power.”

After recalling the product and adjusting the label, Tesco was still defeated in the court case on this matter—proving our previous point on the importance of high-quality translations.

Tesco Czech Republic glocalization marketing

KFC’s glocal menus and ads

Among many other fast-food brands, KFC provides a great example of a global business strategy. Each country with KFC locations has a localized menu that caters directly to unique local tastes and preferences.

You’ll find biryani in India, Tiramisu in France and, in South Africa, you can get your KFC meal with a mini loaf or mash and gravy on the side. Their glocal marketing is also highly localized to reflect local culture examples and slang.

See below an example of a KFC ad in South Africa with the phrase “Let’s go 50/50.” This refers to a popular song by local artist Mandoza, providing a local reference that South Africans will immediately connect with and appreciate.

KFC South Africa localized advert

Barbie goes global 

The Mattel Corporation has truly taken Barbie global, where the popular doll can now be found in 150 countries around the globe. While Barbie is a world-renowned toy brand that has been successful for many years, the brand now also creates localized Barbies. In 2017, the first hijab-wearing Barbie doll was released in honor of Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, and you’ll find thousands of different Barbies in various skin colors and cultural clothing.

The one issue with Barbie’s glocalization strategy is that it walks a fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural respect. The brand has received much backlash from local consumers who feel the dolls are commercialized cultural appropriation—which is an attempt to profit off local cultures. 

When creating a glocal product that directly represents a culture, it’s crucial to remain respectful and honor the local culture. It’s also essential to ensure that the local country and community benefit from your glocal business. For example, are the profits going back into the local communities? If not, you may receive backlash from locals who would then rather support local businesses.

See also: Cultural marketing: Going beyond simple translations

Image featuring different localized Barbies

You don’t need to change everything

While a glocalization strategy may be necessary for widespread international success, it doesn’t have to involve a complete revamp of your home brand strategy. Local customers don’t expect you to change everything about your company when launching into their region. They just want you to show that you value their culture and preferences and have taken the time to consider them.

At VeraContent, we help global brands implement their glocalization strategy by creating content that speaks to their local audiences. From website and blog content to social media, we’ll help you take your brand message and make it relevant to your various target audiences worldwide. Get in touch to find out more.