Glocalisation Is Back! Sort of……

Glocalisation was a buzz-word of the 1980’s that came and went along with lairy hand-printed Versace silk shirts, Don Johnson haircuts for varying parts of the male anatomy and the white Testarossa Ferrari with matching white driving shoes worn without socks. All bright and beautiful in their day, but hideously dated in the bright daylight of the 21st century.

Think Global. Act local. That was the 1980’s version. Create a product that can go global and then do whatever you need to do at a local level to drive sales.

But it was swept away in the 1990’s rush to cut costs, globally source and drive profit through volume in every corner of the planet that supported human life or something resembling it. Variation was the enemy of low cost simplicity, so variation was eliminated in favour of ‘the cookie cutter’ and its friend – the Manual.

But something changed all that. As the new millennium came into being, the tipping point was reached between the diminishing power of the post World War 2 supply driven market and the rising power of the emerging demand driven market. As local relevance put new pressures on mere brand awareness, countless previously ‘powerful’ brands began to suffer poor returns all over the world. Retailers like Wal-Mart found markets like Germany impervious to their processes. McDonalds discovered the same menus and the same store formats were unprofitable or unproductive in different countries.

Today Glocalisation no longer means Think Global. Act Local. It means carefully build brand power and leverage it in applications that are relevant to the local market – with integrity.

McDonalds is undergoing a renaissance. Not because it is the same all over the world, but principally because it is different. It understands its essential DNA and brand fingerprint and – while it fiercely protects these things everywhere – it has learned how to vary its menu, its services and its stores to fit each of the locations it operates in. This has seen strong double-digit growth around the world for the last 5 years.

Disney Products has done a similar exercise that points the way for a branded goods wholesaler in the 21st century. They now differentiate product for their major channel partners in a way that sees no two overlapping channel partners having the same product and every channel partner having a range of products that is relevant to their coverage area. Price pressure caused by multiple doorways selling the same customer benchmarked item has been reduced or eradicated.

In the 21st century both economic and social pressure will force retail businesses to make more from less. Glocalisation is what will promote the highest productivity because it mirrors the shift to a demand driven market. A market where increasing customer relevance, matched to brand magnetism, far out-weighs brand reach based on low cost of production and a compromised product or service offer.