Going “glocal”: How to effectively expand your business in
an international market


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It’s no secret that international business and commerce are both increasing at a high rate. Not only are the largest companies expanding their markets overseas, but smaller brands are also learning the value behind business that extends beyond geographic borders. The reason? With digital tools readily accessible and a new focus on intercultural communication, professionals have the ability to effectively communicate with new target audiences through the “glocal” approach.

“Glocal” is a combination of global and local perspectives in regard to segmenting and targeting your consumer. For American companies wanting to expand their business borders on a global scale, they need to adopt the “glocal” perspective to develop their messaging, content, and other deliverables for the new target market. It is a global understanding with a local context and undertone.

“Glocal” considers the global aspect of product placement in a new country, but it also emphasizes the importance of knowing the local audience in that foreign space.

Some of the most critical elements in the “glocal” approach include research, local contact development, and messaging. The research phase has never been more important — you must understand the international audience. Not only does this phase require extensive research about the cultural norms and customs of the country, but companies must be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their product category in that particular region. For instance, Coca Cola had to make adjustments to their popular American beverages when placing their brand in other countries around the world. The carbonated beverage sector in other countries was not a comparable industry to the United States, so Coca Cola developed alternative beverages that better suited the international consumer. For instance, Coca Cola introduced Sparletta Sparberry in central and Southern African countries back in 1955. This beverage, unique to the region, is a raspberry cream soda drink that is a fan favorite.

The development of local contacts is another vital phase in the “glocal” approach. If your brand or company does not have any local contacts in the specific area in which you are expanding your market to, it may negatively impact your expansion effort. For a more successful implementation of your brand’s product or service into a foreign market, it is imperative to create local contacts and relationships that can benefit your expansion process. Local contacts may include members of the media such as journalists, reporters, publicists or well-known publications.

J.O. president Jennifer Henderson states, “It’s absolutely vital to have these connections locally in the area in which you want to be represented, even if it’s just to understand the nuances of that region that an outsider would have no way of knowing otherwise. We’ve used local representation for clients to better understand the lingo, the trends, the dialect and to have the opportunity to market that brand in a way that locals can feel connected. If not done properly, it can completely backfire on a brand.”

Message development must also complement the information compiled from the initial research phase. If a brand’s messages do not align with the values and tendencies of the target country or culture, your product or service may not survive their market. It is crucial for brands to remember to constantly evaluate and test their messaging tactics with their local contacts to ensure accuracy and appropriateness of the content. This is why the research phase is so important for international business and global communication. This phase can merely make or break a company. That is why brands must attain content appropriateness and develop messaging that resonates with local consumers, even if they live across the globe.

Tanya Lariviere
Agency and Gallery Intern

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