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How Culture Impacts Branding

Can a brand succeed globally by thinking locally?

8Jul

The world's economy is rapidly merging into a single market, and companies may underestimate the importance of a locally-orientated brand strategy because they might be focussed more on their global performance. However, in order to succeed globally, brands must consider a local aspect first, in order to start their journey. Businesses become increasingly concerned about how to run a global, yet localized business, so how can we achieve this?

When it comes to markets, some countries may be more interested in specific brands, although, if there is an absence of authenticity, a brand strategy risks failing. Trying to convince consumers overseas that a particular brand's products are beyond cultural barriers is another mistake. It can be useful to adapt a brand strategy to the cultural differences and portray a product as a good alternative, rather than something similar. For one country, a breakfast bowl of cereal may look normal, but it doesn't mean that the same can be applied throughout the world. Weetabix Food Company, for example, exports breakfast goods to more than 80 countries, and this diversity creates a bigger chance of failure as brand strategy needs diversification. While some products, such as phones, TVs, and other home appliances may stay the same, the food and drink market, for example, is much more culturally specific. Thus, Weetabix's CEO, Giles Turrell, believes that Weetabix needs to convince countries like, Kenya, that their product is a good alternative to the breakfast food that is already there.

It's also important to understand customers' preferences towards global and local brands. According to data acquired by Nielsen, nearly 75% of global consumers listed brand origin as a key purchase driver in 2016. Patrick Dodd, Group President at Nielsen Growth Market, said it was surprising to discover that consumers are influenced by the origin of the brand even more than they are by quality and price of the products. Data also shows that local brands win over global ones in many categories related to the food and drink market. However, there are also examples of global brands succeeding overseas because they are foreign.

The US Krispy Kreme doughnut brand managed to expand overseas, by keeping its American undertone. The brand introduced a doughnut culture to the UK, by playing on the British understanding and appreciation of American culture. They also aimed to encourage UK consumers to practice the communal experience, where doughnuts are bought in boxes and shared in a group of friends or co-workers. The marketing campaign included 'give aways' of gift cards that gave holders a box of 12 doughnuts every month, intended for sharing. The outcome was positive and the UK welcomed Krispy Kreme to the market.

Culture is the main aspect that brands need to work with in order to achieve a global success and retain their strong positions locally. John C Jay, a president of global creative at Uniqlo, rightly pointed that the idea is to have a space devoted to culture, that is unique and relevant and brings something back to the community.

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