What is glocalization? Synergizing global and local strategies

What is glocalization

Globalization has transformed the world into a highly connected, interdependent place. As a result, more goods and services are available to more people than ever—often at lower prices. To better serve local consumers and combat the risk of cultural homogenization, brands are using a strategy known as glocalization.

But before we can explore its benefits, we first need to define glocalization. 

Simply put, glocalization is the adaptation of global products and services for a local market. The term, which derives from the Japanese word dochukaka, means “global localization.” Japanese economists coined the term in the 1980s, and its English counterpart was introduced by Sociologist Roland Robertson in The Harvard Business Review.   

The process revolves around a synergy between global strategies—making products and services available worldwide—with localization strategies that tap into local cultures to better resonate with users in that region. Think of it as a ‘personal touch’ for specific locales, integrated with a broader global strategy.

Defining glocalization: A balance of localization with globalizing trends

Now that we have a basic glocalization definition to work with, let’s go a little deeper into why brands use this strategy.     

Glocalization blends global and local strategies to market products or services on a global scale while tailoring those offerings to each individual market. This allows brands to reach global and regional consumers simultaneously. 

It typically works better for businesses that have a decentralized management structure or operate in culturally-varied markets because it can require quickly adapting to market changes. However, glocalization can work for other types of organizations with the right planning and business processes in place.  

Why glocalization matters: Empowering your brand to expand worldwide

In his seminal article, Robertson wrote that glocalization was “the simultaneity—the co-presence—of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies.” In other words, glocalization enables products and services to be both universally recognized and tailored to local tastes at the same time. 

It represents local adaptations to broader, ongoing forces of globalization in an increasingly connected world. And that makes it an excellent strategy for brands that want to quickly expand worldwide.

Since this concept can be a little abstract, let’s take a look at a real-world example: McDonald’s Corporation. The American multinational fast food chain has restaurants in over 119 countries. While each location features the corporation’s famous branding, the menus vary to meet local culinary preferences and dietary requirements.

When McDonald’s launched in India, locations began offering chicken, lamb, and vegetarian dishes. Although the brand is best known for hamburgers, heavily marketing the sandwich in India wouldn’t have made much sense. 

Why? Because 80% of the country’s population practices Hinduism, a religion that prohibits beef consumption, and about 20% identify as vegetarian. In order to succeed in such a culturally varied market, McDonald’s needed to redesign the menu to match the preferences of a wider range of customers.

Globalization strategies like this can help you maximize business growth worldwide by balancing standardization with smart localization strategies that align with the languages and cultures of individual locales.

Leveraging glocalization for international growth

Keep in mind that if you want to pursue glocalization, a smart localization strategy is key. It’s the best way to ensure you properly address the linguistic and cultural differences in a new market. To get it right, we recommend partnering with a localization provider that has a deep understanding of both your target market(s) and your industry.   

At Acclaro, we work with global enterprises to create powerful synergies between highly effective global strategies, and the unique local considerations for each locale and its market. We work with brands to create and refine highly effective localization strategies with your brand’s global growth and business goals in mind.

How does glocalization differ from localization?

Now, you’re likely thinking that glocalization and localization sound pretty similar. Both involve adapting products and services for global markets, so what’s the difference? To answer the question, here’s a brief summary of each:

  • Localization addresses linguistic and cultural differences on a global level. This involves adapting products, services, and brand messaging for individual markets.  
  • Glocalization synthesizes this localization into broader globalization and standardization strategies. It promotes the influence of global forces and prevailing cultures onto smaller cultural and linguistic groups, whereas localization approaches tend to promote and uplift the local.

While glocalization and localization have similar goals and processes, they are two different, yet intertwined, types of economic systems and business strategies. The strategy that’s right for you will depend on the product or service, target market(s), and your business model.

Benefits and challenges of glocalization: balancing global strategies with local considerations

Glocalization, as an approach and set of strategies, can bring powerful advantages to medium and large enterprises that want to grow and expand globally. However, the process can be expensive and resource intensive. Businesses that plan to pursue glocalization must see it as a long-term investment in order to reap the benefits. Below are three factors to consider before getting started. 

Glocalization helps to expand your global customer base

With the right glocalization strategy, brands can gain greater access to culturally diverse target markets. It also increases a brand’s competitive advantage because it involves offering products or services that are highly tailored to the local culture. By leveraging a combination of standardization and localization strategies, glocalization can increase revenue, expand your customer base, and separate your brand from the competition.  

Glocalization fosters international brand awareness 

By drawing on the local culture, brands can present their offerings in ways that maximize their ability to resonate with audiences across diverse locales. This helps you connect with local customers because they’ll recognize that an international brand adapted a product or service specifically for them. As a result, you’ll increase brand loyalty and improve customer retention.

How does glocalization affect culture?

Going beyond the individual business benefits, glocalization fosters increased connectivity and integration between various locales worldwide. This can promote cultural exchanges and understanding—in addition to empowering businesses to expand internationally.        

However, glocalization can have some negative effects on local cultures. Because it’s geared toward standardization and establishing the influence of foreign brands, glocalization can contribute to the loss of cultural identity. To avoid this, brands should take care to achieve the right balance between global and local.

What is the process of glocalization?

The goal of glocalization is to reach new markets by offering globally standardized products, services, and messaging in ways that are localized to a region’s language and culture. And these strategies require a series of actions and considerations in order to be implemented effectively. Below is a brief overview of three key steps you need to take.

 1. Understand local markets 

Brands must acquire a deep understanding of customer tastes and preferences, local cultural considerations, and local competitors. Failure to do so can significantly impact a brand’s ability to succeed in the new market. For example, Walmart’s failure to adapt to Germany’s customer preferences and business culture forced the retailer to leave the market all together.  

2. Leverage local talent to gain local insights

Working with local talent fosters further insight into specifics and peculiarities of a given locale. This will help you adapt your brand to meet the expectations of local consumers, and avoid missteps in the customer experience.  

 3. Work together with local businesses

Synergizing with local companies is necessary for aspects such as logistics, supply chain, media, distribution, and other essential considerations. These partnerships will help you reduce costs, increase trust in the local economy, and build brand awareness.  

Synergize global business strategies and operations with localization initiatives

Some existing strategies from an organization’s main market may be used with great success in other locales. Others may need to be adjusted to other locales’ socioeconomic, cultural, political, regulatory, market, and other areas of difference. Glocalization is about striking an ideal balance between the two.

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, glocalization involves much more than localizing content and adapting brand image. It’s about finding the right balance between offering a standardized global product or service and adapting it to meet the demands of the local market. Localization is an essential part of that strategy, but brands often need to go deeper to create new local offerings. 

Fortunately, Acclaro is here to help you develop an effective global strategy that includes the unique considerations of each target market. Using our industry knowledge and cultural expertise, we’ll provide the guidance you need to address local preferences—without sacrificing your brand’s integrity.          

Want to learn more about how Acclaro can help you reach your business goals? Get started today.

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