Marketing has almost always had two localisation rules of thought: world and local. You can market a product or service to a specific region, or you market globally. Before the Internet, only major corporations had the financial resources to spread globally in its marketing outreach, while regional and local businesses focused on reaching customers on the home front. Now your business can reach every corner of the connected world without requiring a huge investment. Whatever market you wish to survive and thrive in though, you need to adapt to each region to succeed.
Competition in modern retail is heavier than at any other time in the history of commerce. Even though governments use trade barriers to protect national interests, in reality you are in direct competition with every other ecommerce retailer similar to yourself across the globe. This is especially true for retailers selling low-cost products that slip under the tax limits imposed on imported goods.
But think of this as a marketing opportunity - your work as a marketer has never been more important. Your challenge is to identify the right ways to connect with customers, stand out from the crowd, fine tune your message and educate your local marketing teams.
Every region is a little bit different from the next. As you know there's a difference in demographics, likes and dislikes even between your hometown and one an hour or two away. The better and more finely tuned the local advertising, the easier it is to connect with the community and sell your products and services. However, you need to put your local marketing into context.
From helping your clients look their best to improving how their lawn looks, your products may improve the lives and boost the productivity of customers. Naturally, the needs of a client in Norway will differ from the needs of a client in Mexico, at least in some subtlety. Repeating the same marketing concepts for every international region may not be a recipe for success, you need to understand the needs of each location. While you have an excellent understanding of your current customers, what works in a new region may very likely differ. By conducting market research in emerging markets, you'll have a better understanding of how to connect current products with the new demographic.
International expansion is easier than ever before and can result in rapid growth but without understanding your market, expanding into to new regions and countries may end up costing your business a substantial amount of money without any real return. Before you do any marketing your company will need to examine the new market in terms of the products you are selling, such as product saturation in the new market, if you need local suppliers, and so on. But researching the new market in terms of how you will communicate is also a vital step.
In some countries the demographic is the same throughout, while in other, often larger countries may have split demographics. If, for example, your business in Switzerland wants to push into the United States, it will pay off to know the many demographic differences between major cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Determining the price point at which you will sell your product heavily depends on several regional factors, including cost of living and exchange rates. In order to push into a new local market, the cost must prove applicable and competitive. A cheeseburger from McDonald's does not cost the same in Oslo as it does in London or Tokyo. Costs can even vary by location within a city. Understanding pricing in a region and how to best remain competitive is necessary for your business to thrive.
Adapting your brand guidelines
As your company expands into new markets, and you set up new regional offices and put people in charge of marketing to these new regions, you need to determine if your brand guidelines should be standardised globally, or if marketing needs to vary for local adaptations. Companies like Adidas or Mercedes use similar marketing approaches universally, although spokespersons will vary based on regional importance.
Multiple agencies or in-house production
Another major point you need to consider is whether multiple marketing agencies should be involved. An external advertising firm that understands a region can provide invaluable advice but needs to follow global guidelines which you need to keep ownership to. Using multiple national or local agencies will significantly slow down any brand updates and will increase production costs with repeated proofing rounds across all your locations. You may decide to do production completely in-house both centrally and locally, especially if you can find the right solutions to do this efficiently.
Strategies for expanding your business into new territories:
Consider how much space you need
International marketing is influenced by several factors, from using a different language, national currencies and units to presenting the content from left to right or right to left, depending on how the language is written and read. You will also need to consider spacing. The amount of text you need to describe a product in Finnish will differ from English, Spanish or Japanese. A saying you have in your native tongue may not translate at all and may need to be explained using different words and longer sentences.
Keep and eye on legal requirements
Understanding local laws will help prevent future legal headaches. Depending on the product you sell and the legal requirements of the country, you may need to provide disclaimers. This goes along with understanding appropriate spacing. If you are required by law to include a disclaimer in every form of marketing material, it takes space away from other visuals and text-based content. Legal requirements may affect what you need to print on the product's physical label, and even the colour scheme.
In some locations, you may want to avoid using certain colours due to cultural beliefs. In Thailand, for example, yellow is the royal colour. It's extremely popular with residents and often locals wear yellow shirts and clothing to show signs of support.
If there is one tip you must take to heart whenever marketing in a new location, it is to always understand the new local demographic, the customers in place and their belief system. Do not leave a stone unturned.
Alegra O'Hare, branding architect, VP Global Brand Communications of Adidas Originals, discusses the challenges inherent in building a global brand immersed in local culture:
Ensure brand consistency and communicate locally
Maintaining your a consistent brand is important. You want customers to recognise your brand regardless of where they are. From Apple to VW, Nike to Chanel, all of these businesses maintain a consistent brand image. You can spot a McDonald's, no matter where you are in the world. However, while you need brand consistency you still need to adapt to each location. This includes focusing on local culture and important, regional events.
Adapt your products
McDonald's has been doing glocalisation for a long time. This American based fast-food giant could have spread into new countries, offering only the products it specialised in back in the United States. While it did maintain the same visual appearance, logo and a number of the food choices found in cities like Chicago or Dallas, the company has incorporated local food flavours as it moved into new countries. This has helped the company connect with local customers by providing foods they were familiar with.
Respect local culture and beliefs
When expanding to a new location, it is important to ensure local messaging is done right. You may use models in bikinis to market a product in Brazil, yet this look goes against cultural beliefs in countries such as Saudi Arabia or Malaysia. If you do it wrong you are not only missing out on sales, you can potentially alienate your business to the point of no return. When it comes to potentially sensitive visuals you need to go the extra mile to ensure local culture and religion is respected.
Share and inspire
As your marketing team expands along with your business you may find that the wheel is being reinvented in multiple locations - if each location is creating all their local campaigns from scratch they may be losing out on marketing concepts that have succeeded in other regions. Sharing ideas and success stories across your regions can both help unify your global messaging and save local teams some of the effort of creating new campaigns.
A good way to achieve this is to use a web based brand portal with shared content which can be repurposed locally and an global overview of your campaigns. You can stay on top of this process by scheduling regular conference calls and keeping an eye on regional campaign activities in the brand portal. This can also help local marketing teams with a good starting point for their next campaign.
No matter the demographic or region, technology continues to shift and change the way businesses reach and interact with the consumer. From GEO based apps that notify shoppers of your latest offers when they pass by your storefront all the way to how you track prospective customers through social media platforms, it pays off to keep up with the game changing potential of new technologies.
Omnichannel combines a business model and multi channel marketing with data about how customers interact with companies across all touchpoints, both online and offline, and the idea is to provide a consistent customer experience. Collecting data about all these interactions gives retailers a competitive advantage when the information is used to communicate with shoppers through retargeting and other personalised marketing. There are several tactics that can help you succeed with omnichannel marketing.
Technology can also help improve the speed at which you connect with new customers and reduce the amount of time you spend on repetitive tasks. An important chunk of the time and effort involved in a campaign is related to marketing production. Manual marketing production comes with a considerable amount of repeated effort. As you adapt your marketing to regional laws and cultural requirements, each of your local campaigns may still contain a large portion of the same products globally, so it makes sense to automate the process of adding product information to your marketing collateral.
Marketing automation software can help you not only stay on top of local variations, but also avoid the mundane, duplicate process of recreating nearly identical marketing material for each local market. By only altering what is needed while avoiding the recreation of what should stay consistent, you can keep localised marketing costs as low as possible while increasing the speed at which you can outreach and connect.
Tips and Resources for Local Marketers
As you expand into new countries you'll need information to comply with local rules and regulations. You will also need to understand cultural aspects of marketing in these new countries. Below are some resources that could be useful to get you started, you need to supplement this by researching information relevant to your brand, the kinds of products you are selling and the particularities of the countries and cultures you are targeting.
Google and Retail
By reading up on Google you can begin to get some understanding of how this global search engine works and what you need to to in order to be found online. They have a lot of solutions built specifically for retail.
Colours around the world
This article by Shutterstock provides you with some insights into colour symbolism around the world. This is just one example of culturally dependent information that may affect your marketing to resonate with your audience.
Another aspect of local differences affecting marketing is product labelling, which can have legal ramifications as well. For marketing in the EU, this web site will be a good source of information regarding eco-labelling. Other nations around the world have other labelling requirements. The main point here is that you need to comply with local legislation, although in many cases, such as energy efficiency, correct labelling will also help your customers better understand what you are offering and can even be a selling point.
Retargeting - handle with care
It is essential for ecommerce retailers to utilise online retargeting as part of their marketing mix. Reminding clients that have previously visited their website about the products they looked at gives them a chance to close the deal. But as soon as a client has purchased a product, the very next ad they see should not the product they just bought. Research confirms that consumers find an ad annoying after viewing it five times. Advertising platforms have built-in mechanisms for managing this but in many cases you need to actively configure the system to exclude converted customers from further retargeting.
Weather can be an opportunity
It is a well know fact that local weather plays a big role in which product consumers purchase and that the seasons may change at different times even within the same country. Technology providers like Weatherads have built weather based marketing services that are worth checking out.
Organise your assets
As you expand it will pay off to you organise your images and other digital assets according to regional differences. This will simplify the job when you are creating localised marketing, whether it is specific to a country, region or city. This is where a Digital Asset Management system (DAM) such as Papirfly DAM can be really helpful.
Stay on top of your product information
At some point you may have been using spreadsheets to organise some of your campaign information. As your company is growing and expanding, trying to maintain information about hundreds or even thousands of products in same way is a daunting task at best. If you are using location specific data such as different languages, localised pricing or differentiating which products you are marketing in different locations, implementing a Product Information Management system (PIM) is a must. This will help you overcome the burden of maintaining this information consistently across your market. When integrated with efficient marketing production tools such as Papirfly this can provide fantastic ROI over traditional, manual marketing production.
WIth the advent of ecommerce and online advertising the world is an open market. You can expand to any corner of the globe, or remain locally exclusive if that is your prerogative. However, if you want to expand, some level of localised marketing is essential. Understanding the wants and needs of local customers will help improve the return on investment of your marketing.