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What Ronald McDonald Can Teach Us About Glocalization

What Ronald McDonald Can Teach Us About Glocalization

Friday, August 07, 2015

What Ronald McDonald Can Teach Us About Glocalization

I love to travel, but no matter the destination there’s always one ever-present to-do on my vacation itinerary: a visit to McDonald’s. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m just as conscious about my daily McNugget intake as the next person, but what McDonald’s has done with their international expansion is unmatched by any other brand. They’ve perfected the art of “glocalization,” that is, thinking globally and acting locally.

Visit an Australian Macca’s and you’ll find the McOz, India boasts the McAloo Tiki, Canada is home to the questionable McLobster, while France holds the honour of their McDonald’s selling McBeer with breakfast. And let’s not forget all about Norway’s offensive McAfrika, as much of a gastro-gaffe that was.

While some will argue this hyper-localized strategy is damaging McDonald’s ability to lower operating expenses at scale, it’s fair to say that market customization is one of the ways the McJuggernaut has been able to aggressively grow into the world’s largest fast food chain. So what can we learn from the Golden Arches playbook? Well, by embracing a glocal attitude, ambitious brands can make it easier to connect with a foreign demographic and capture new revenue streams.

This kind of strategy can even apply to digital campaigns and ecommerce companies, where online user habits vary from country to country. Did you know Viadeo is the most popular professional network in France ahead of LinkedIn? Or that Taobao, a marketplace website operated by Alibaba, accounts for over 60% of the parcels delivered in China? How about the fact that Brazil is leading the global e-shopping trend with 81 percent of its consumers willing to order from international websites?

Of course, with any glocalization strategy comes the need to talk the local language, to go “native” as it were. Paid media can’t be overlooked in any digital marketing plan, but when it comes to going glocal down in Acapulco and generating a shiny new lead pool, an effective content strategy is the first step in speaking to different cultural nuances before spending media dollars.

The essence of marketing is to convince an audience that a product or service is for them. That somehow their lives will be enriched by purchasing said offering, unless it happens to be a mail order glitter bomb that solely exists to bring fist shaking mutiny to a suburbia near you. It doesn’t need to be emphasized that language is the way in which we effect cross-cultural connections and customized digital content is the mechanism through which we communicate at scale.

The “How” in launching a content strategy that caters to international markets all begins with research. Research your audience, the socio-political status of the country, buyer behavior, digital usage, regional laws, holidays and customs, the most popular websites, social networks and apps. Connect with local freelancers for ideation and translation where needed. Heck, you could even travel to the destination for an immersive experience that will acquaint you with that perfect new consumer.

Ultimately content will flow from your robust research and guide the deployment of a bespoke strategy. This isn’t a one-size-fits all approach and marketers shouldn’t get complacent in assuming the same campaign will work across demographics. Uniquely local landing pages should be developed for key locations, SEO optimizied to take into account internet speeds, search behaviours, language, currency and design preference. Meanwhile, we can also add Facebook Location pages (formerly “child” pages) and geo-targeting for linguistically tailored social posts — doing the same for display networks – to circumnavigate the time-consuming exercise of creating multiple social profiles geared towards each new market.

Just as HSBC became synonymous as “the world’s local bank,” your brand positioning should be that of a retailer on the doorstep of every nation, ready to service this decade’s burgeoning consumerism. Sure the planning and execution of such a glocal strategy can seem like a Sisyphean slog in its early stages, but if successful, your brand’s return on investment will know no boundaries.

For more information on how you can introduce a local strategy into your global marketing plans, feel free to get in touch with a DAC team member.

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