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Examples of Glocalization: Inspiring Global Brands Going Local

Examples of Glocalization: Inspiring Global Brands Going Local

In the globalized world, brands are now using glocalization to expand their customer base in foreign markets. Research shows that approximately 57% of consumers consider accessing a product in their own language more important than price, making this strategy more sensible. Glocalization is a combination of the terms “globalization” and “localization,” and it involves adapting a product or service developed and distributed globally to fit the needs of users or consumers in local markets. Entering a local market requires more than just translating your materials into the local language. It involves a deep understanding and assimilation of the culture, often facilitated through local translation services. In our article, you can find information on what you need to know about glocalization and a few examples of glocalization from companies that excel in this approach.

What is Glocalization?

Thanks to globalization, more goods and services than ever before are reaching a much larger number of people worldwide. Companies are using the glocalization strategy to better serve local consumers and to prevent the homogenization of culture. Simply put, glocalization is the adaptation of global products and services to a local market. This concept, which is derived from the Japanese word “dochukaka,” meaning “global localization,” first emerged in the 1980s.

In this process, global strategies that make products and services accessible worldwide are combined with localization strategies that leverage local cultures to appeal to local users. In summary, glocalization is a personal touch that says “We understand you.” to users in every local market.

Examples of Glocalization

Glocalization, which involves incorporating a foreign concept into the local culture, can enable companies to successfully connect with people around the world. This allows individuals to identify with and relate to the foreign concept. Many global companies use the examples of glocalization when entering new local markets. Some do this before entering the market, while others choose to continually adapt their glocalization strategies. We have discussed examples of glocalization from some globally recognized brands below.

1. Localized McDonalds Menus

With 37,000 restaurants in 120 countries, McDonald’s represents a perfect example of globalization. McDonald’s has successfully built its brand personality, considering different cultures and social norms. To achieve global success and develop a positive image on a global scale, McDonald’s uses examples of glocalization to the fullest extent.

While the term “McDonaldization” may seem contrary to glocalization, they masterfully achieve examples of glocalization with their menus that cater to local tastes and cultural preferences. Examples of this strategy’s success include McCafe in Australia to cater to coffee culture, McSpicy in India, köfte burgers in Turkey, and Corn Pie in Thailand.

2. Whirlpool Fridges

Just like McDonald’s, Whirlpool also stands out as a successful company in implementing the glocalization strategy. Their marketing strategy in India was unique. Recognizing that people faced problems washing traditional Sari clothing, the company introduced a machine that allowed these 1.5-meter-long garments to be washed without tangling, providing a solution to this specific need.

Similarly, when entering the Asian market, they designed and marketed washing machines as decorative elements in the house, considering that in some parts of Asia, appliances are seen as symbols of wealth. They achieved great success with this approach and gave one of the best examples of glocalization.

3. Hamburgers around the World

Although hamburgers are originally an American meal, they are widely consumed worldwide. Some countries have adapted hamburger to their own tastes. For example, in Turkey, there is köfte burger, in Canada, there is Canadian bacon burger, in Australia, there is pineapple slice burger, and in India, there is vegan burger.

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4. Starbucks in Australia

Starbucks failure to enter the Australian market is indeed good examples of glocalization gone wrong. The company entered Australia rapidly and with significant investment but had to completely withdraw within a few years. The main reason for this was their failure to understand the coffee culture in Australia.

In the US, consumers prefer to drink their coffee on the way to work, while in Australia, people like to drink their coffee in boutique cafes while sitting and chatting with friends. In short, Australians rejected fast-food coffee, and as a result, Starbucks venture into the Australian market was short-lived.

5. Netflix

Netflix, a streaming platform for movies and series, operates in many countries worldwide. However, there is a significant difference between watching Netflix in Turkey and watching it in the United States. The reason for this is that Netflix signs unique contracts for each country and allows local users to personalize their preferences. It provides separate lists for each country, such as “Top 10 series in Germany.”

In addition to this, Netflix also strives to include local films and series in its content for each country and works with local artists to produce entirely new series and films.

6. Coca Cola’s Localized Campaigns

When talking about examples of glocalization, one cannot omit Coca-Cola. While they may not release region-specific local flavors for every area, their emotionally charged local advertisements are highly successful.

In 1955, the 21-minute “Eastern Pearl” commercial that showcased Filipino culture remains unforgettable among advertisements. Similarly, the iftar (breaking of the fast) tables they set up in their Ramadan commercials in Turkey every year, emphasizing themes of brotherhood, friendship, and unity, are excellent examples of localized Coca-Cola advertisements for the local market.

7. New York Pizza

With the arrival of Italian culture in New York in the 19th century, there was a transformation in the flavors of pizza as well. While people in Europe preferred thin-crust pizza, in New York, deep-dish pizza became famous. Today, in almost every corner of the world, different types of pizza are made to suit local tastes.

8. Apple in Japan

In the early 2010s, Apple achieved great success with an advertising campaign in Western countries that emphasized that other brand computers were not fashionable. However, this campaign was considered too confrontational for Japan, a culture known for its non-aggressiveness and politeness.

Instead, in a parallel advertising campaign, Apple emphasized that their computers were suitable for weekend use rather than for work. This way, they presented the same products in a less confrontational style and in a more suitable tone for the Japanese public.

9. Christmas Traditions

The rapid spread of Christianity worldwide is one of the earliest examples of glocalization. However, Christmas traditions vary surprisingly across cultures. For example, in the Catalonia region of Spain, there is a character called Caga Tio who is placed on the dining table every night, and on Christmas Eve, this character is beaten with a stick until it “defecates” gifts.

Similarly, in Austria, there is a Christmas character called Krampus who kidnaps naughty children and roams the streets to scare them.

Behind the successful implementation of all these examples of glocalization, there are various elements ranging from company culture to management, from local factors to localization services.

Bekir Diri
Bekir Diri

Bekir Diri, founder of Atlas Localization, studied at Trakya University, Department of Translation and Interpretation. He gained industry experience with his MA in Translation Studies in Istanbul 29 Mayis University, with his thesis titled “Turkish Issues in Game, Mobile Application and Web Localization”, while also improving himself in the field. He also lectures about Translation Technologies, Project Management and Localization in Istanbul 29 Mayis University.

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