Your consumer is glocal
A look at the behaviour of globalised consumers and how to address them in local markets
Vedika is a 21-year-old woman living in Mumbai, about to head to college, and in the market for a new pair of sports shoes. Having travelled widely during her pre-lockdown holidays and visited Adidas stores in London and Dubai, she has decided to get some new trainers.
Her research takes her to the Adidas USA website, but eventually she opts to buy her sports shoes from an ecommerce site based outside India, paying by credit card.
Like Vedika, swathes of consumers purchase with both a global and local mindset, and it’s posing some fundamental challenges for brands. The solution to the problem is not as easy as getting global brands to build a local profile as consumers are experiencing brands across a much wider geographic footprint than ever before.
As digital access and connectivity continues to expand, this group will become bigger and bigger. Their habits are helped by the availability of low-cost smartphones and low-cost data bundles. In India, for example, data access now costs as little as $0.09 USD per GB, while a new smartphone can be just $20 USD, catalysing the entire eco-system.
There are currently four factors that are making brand experiences an increasingly global phenomenon:
- Consumers are online, globally: Brand discovery is an online experience for many consumers and there are no barriers to stopping them getting a glimpse of their favourite brands in markets well beyond their home country.
- Consumers can buy from anywhere: Shoppers are now able to access global brands from almost any market they like. Thanks to the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, consumers are accessing brands from outside their local geographies. Ali Express, for example, which is based in China, is proving popular with Indian consumers.
- Consumers can pay in any currency: Online payment systems make it easy for them to buy and sell anything, anywhere. A shopper is now easily able to purchase with international currencies thanks to PayPal, Western Union or debit/credit cards enabled by brands like Visa and Mastercard.
- Consumers can go anywhere: Pre-COVID-19, international cross-border travel was steadily rising, allowing consumers to experience the same brand in different countries. Take McDonald’s for example: today when a consumer is travelling abroad and craves a Big Mac, they know they can walk into any McDonald’s restaurant and expect the same Big Mac, with the same taste and experience that they get back home.
There are three things global brands can do to address these globalised consumers:
1. Make reference to localised popular culture
Every local market will have its own traditions, values, cultures, foods and languages. Brands need to identify what makes the right connection with consumers and amplify that.
Amazon India’s Aur Dikhao campaign, for example, captures the variety of choices that Indian consumers want before making a purchase decision. This behaviour is an age-old tradition. For example, it is common for an Indian shopper to visit a shop, browse a range of items and ask the shopkeeper to reserve them while they look for more in other stores. It is up to them, ultimately, which one to purchase, if at all.
2. Don’t compromise the experience, customise it
In endeavouring to integrate into the local culture, brands often end up compromising the overall experience due to global guidelines. It is important to ensure that brands are able to deliver to local expectations, rather than compromise and stopping half-way.
With the McAloo Tikki Burger, McDonald’s India committed fully to adapting to local needs. By introducing a burger with a cutlet made of mashed potatoes and peas and flavoured with Indian spices, which cost only 20 rupees, the McAloo Tikki Burger was a unique proposition that combined the familiarity of Indian cuisine and the novelty of the humble potato patty being used to create a burger.
3. Think global, but act local
Most global brands have predominantly focused only on local communication to remain relevant to the local consumer. With the rise of ‘glocal’ consumers, brands need to think of an idea that can be relevant across multiple geographies by integrating it with local insights.
In April 2018, Coca Cola’s global Share a Coke campaign came to India with bottles labelled with popular local words (including words like bhai, meaning brother, didi meaning sister, and more). This is a classic example of a global campaign successfully executed using local insights.
Innovation will be essential to ensuring that brands can remain relevant with consumers. The brands that can integrate into local culture and customise the experience seamlessly, keeping the globalised consumer in mind, are the ones that will be able to make authentic connections and build long-lasting relationships with them.
21 October 2020
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