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Global Marketing: Your Guide to Global Marketing Strategy

A graphic that says "Global Marketing: Your Guide to Global Marketing Strategy."

Have you been thinking about expanding your business to the global market?

Many businesses pursue marketing their products and services all over the world to grow their operations and bring in more revenue. However, an undertaking of this scale requires a sound global marketing strategy to successfully navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with bringing your offerings to new markets.

In this post, I’ll go over how to craft your global marketing strategy, typical issues you might face as you execute it, and the advantages you can expect to gain from global marketing. 

Key Takeaways

  • Global marketing refers to marketing your brand and products using the same brand messaging around the world.
  • Developing a strong global marketing strategy requires market research into consumer behaviors and preferences.
  • A global marketing strategy should also be flexible enough to adapt the marketing mix to align with local economic conditions, cultural customs, buying habits, and other factors.
  • Successful global marketers constantly adapt their strategy to meet consumer needs and feedback.
  • While global marketing can be challenging, it also offers big rewards, including increased brand recognition, reduced financial risk, and a larger customer base.

What Is Global Marketing?

First things first: global marketing refers to marketing a brand and its products/services on a worldwide scale. 

Unlike international marketing, which refers to marketing in specific countries or regions and adapting messaging for local markets, global marketing uses the same messaging in every country and region (although there may be tweaks based on cultural preferences, language, and traditions).  It’s most beneficial to businesses whose products and services have worldwide appeal—or the potential for it.

For example, Apple’s global marketing strategy emphasizes its core brand of innovation and simplicity. The visual look of everything from ads to the appearance and layout of the stores are similar whether you are in New York, Paris, or Singapore.

An Apple store (with branded flag outside) in France.

Since people all over the world use computers, software, and electronics in their daily lives, technology companies are smart to pursue global marketing. Other industries that benefit from global marketing strategies include:

  • Retail. Many apparel and retail brands, like Nike, H&M, and Louis Vuitton, enjoy worldwide recognition and appeal. 
  • Food and beverage. Chains like Starbucks and McDonald’s famously capitalize on their popularity in countries across the globe.
  • Media and entertainment. Streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon are available across the world.
  • Banks and financial services. Large institutions such as JPMorgan Chase and Citibank operate in various countries.
  • Travel and tourism.  By definition, airlines and hotels market their services to a global audience.

Now that you know what global marketing is, let’s get to the steps of building a strategy.

Building Your Global Marketing Strategy

Crafting a global marketing strategy requires understanding the consumer and business landscape in different countries and cultures. These are the basic steps to build a successful plan.

1. Deep Dive Into Market Research

You wouldn’t open up a business without doing market research—and the same is true for planning a global marketing strategy.

Conducting research helps marketers tailor their strategy to different audience expectations and customs. Collecting and analyzing data on economic conditions, the competitive landscape, and consumer preferences and behaviors provides valuable insights and can prevent costly mistakes.

Marketers can also use this information to conduct audience segmentation. By dividing the global consumer base into smaller groups based on country or region, you can tailor messaging to different markets, ensuring it resonates with the local culture. 

Culture is the key word here. Expectations, norms, and customs affect consumer purchasing decisions and methods. For example, in some regions, consumers may prefer to buy items in physical stores as opposed to ordering them online.

It’s also critical to understand taboos and traditions. Aside from preventing missteps, this can also motivate marketers to come up with creative tactics and messaging. 

As one example, Saudi Arabia prohibits advertising food products during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which requires the faithful to fast during the day. In response, McDonald’s created a virtual live hourglass that counted down the time until sunset, when Muslims are allowed to break their fast.

A virtual live hourglass from McDonald's.

2. Localize Your Marketing Mix

As a good digital marketer, you know the importance of the 4 Ps of marketing. A global marketing strategy requires adjusting them for local markets in different regions. Here’s how:

  • Product: Adapt products to meet local tastes and preferences. Because Hindus do not eat beef, McDonald’s doesn’t sell beef hamburgers in India, instead offering chicken, fish, and vegetarian options. 
  • Price: Pricing should align with local economic conditions and information on consumer income and spending. This may mean developing more affordable options or offering alternative payment plans. 
  • Place: Choose distribution channels that reflect local buying habits and preferences. In some regions, consumers may shop mainly at large malls or supermarkets, while other cultures may prize small and independent stores.
  • Promotion: Marketing messaging should resonate with different cultural values and norms. For example, Netflix suggests different content based in part on users’ locations. A viewer in France will see different movie and TV suggestions compared to viewers in Canada, even though they both have French-speaking audiences.

By localizing their marketing messages, even major brands can create a sense of familiarity and relevance in their global marketing strategies to engage consumers and build loyalty and trust.

3. Solidify Your Global Brand

While global marketing involves a consistent brand image, that doesn’t mean businesses should be rigid about it in their strategy. A strong global brand image can be flexible to meet local conditions. Many prominent global brands go beyond tactics like international SEO by adapting their image and targeting to align with tastes in different countries.  

Disney is a great example. When you go to Tokyo Disneyland, you might notice that Disney has added some elements from Japanese culture while preserving its iconic image. Merchandise incorporates Japanese touches like cherry blossoms and Mickey and Minnie in traditional dress. 

Japanese merchandise from Disney.

The park also celebrates traditional seasonal Japanese holidays like Tanabata (Star Festival) and Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival) with special events. The adaptation even extends to visitor culture, as guests often sing and dance along while on rides or watching parades. 

By integrating local cultural elements into their offerings, businesses can appeal to diverse markets worldwide while maintaining the core aspects of their brand identity, offering familiarity and consistency.

4. Keep Adapting

As with any initiative, a global marketing strategy requires an iterative, learn-as-you-go approach. Using data and feedback can help you hone your strategy and adjust for any missteps.

Even multinational brands have recovered from mistakes by adapting their global marketing efforts. When KFC entered the Chinese market in the late 1980s, it simply translated its famous slogan, “Finger Lickin’ Good.” Unfortunately, in Mandarin, the result meant “Eat your fingers off.” 

As you can imagine, this was not an attractive catchphrase for Chinese consumers. KFC acted fast to adapt the slogan to a more accurate meaning. It also added menu items designed to appeal to Chinese tastes, such as the “Dragon Twister,” a wrap with fried chicken, cucumber, scallions, and duck sauce.

Its willingness to tweak its global marketing strategy has contributed to the brand’s ongoing success in China: KFC opened its 10,000th store there in 2023.

Challenges for Global Marketing

Expanding your brand and business to diverse audiences around the world isn’t easy. Knowing the potential obstacles you’ll face in your global marketing push can help you prepare a strong strategy and navigate challenges successfully. 

Some of the main issues to plan for include:

  • Cultural differences. Understanding and respecting local customs, values, and consumer behavior is perhaps the most essential aspect of a global marketing strategy. 
  • Language barriers. As the KFC example showed, translating marketing messages and slogans accurately while retaining their intended meaning can be complex. Make sure you have insight from speakers who understand the subtle nuances of word choices and sentence structure.
  • Regulatory and legal compliance. Every country has different laws and requirements regarding advertising, product standards, consumer rights, and other areas of sales and marketing, 
  • The local business landscape. If local and international competitors already have a strong foothold, it may be challenging to gain market share.

Benefits of a Global Marketing Strategy

Undertaking the challenge of a global marketing strategy can bring great rewards, which is the ultimate goal. Some of the benefits you might experience can include:

  • A larger customer base. Expanding your marketing efforts across the globe exposes more people to your offerings and your brand. It can also open up opportunities for diversified product lines that appeal to different needs and tastes in local markets. Both have the potential to significantly increase overall sales and revenue.
  • Diversified risk. Conducting business in multiple markets lessens the financial risk and damage if sales lag in one or even a few areas. 
  • A stronger brand. A global presence enhances brand recognition, supporting familiarity and trust among consumers and potential partners and potentially providing a competitive advantage over local and international competitors. Research has found 60% of customers prefer to buy new products from brands they recognize.
  • Supply chain efficiency. A worldwide presence can give businesses easier access to raw materials and global suppliers, reducing costs and enabling faster manufacturing and delivery. Toyota and Honda have manufacturing facilities around the world, enabling greater availability of their vehicles.
Locations of Toyota and Honda manufacturing facilities.

FAQs

What is global marketing and why is it important?

Global marketing refers to marketing a product or service around the world using a consistent brand image. As the marketplace for all kinds of businesses expands, global marketing can help them penetrate other countries to increase brand recognition, sales, and revenue.

How does global marketing differ from international marketing?

Global marketing takes a centralized approach to marketing activities around the world. While details like messaging or even products and services may be adapted to align with local customs, standards, and other factors, marketing campaigns focus on presenting a consistent and unified image of the brand. In contrast, international marketing targets specific countries or regions, and strategies are more customized to each.

What are the advantages of global marketing?

Global marketing brings access to larger markets, which can increase sales and marketing. This also reduces a company’s financial risk if it faces challenges in specific countries or regions. It also helps strengthen brand recognition, which can generate trust and credibility.

How can a global marketing approach be customized?

Businesses may tailor their marketing messaging and tactics to resonate more effectively with audiences in specific regions or countries by incorporating cultural customs and habits. They may even adapt products or offer new lines to meet local needs and preferences.

What are some effective global marketing strategies?

Global marketers should consider which channels and platforms are most effective in different regions, such as print ads versus digital, or specific social media services. Adapting the marketing mix for local markets can help businesses hit the sweet spot in countries and regions with different needs, tastes, and levels of purchasing power.

Conclusion

Global marketing is a realistic possibility for more businesses thanks to technology. With that said, a successful global marketing strategy requires thought, research, and planning. Simply grafting strategies from the domestic market or other regions won’t work. 
Digital marketers must consider factors like culture, language, consumer preferences, economic conditions, and local laws and regulations. Understanding these diverse audiences and environments is an essential step toward crafting a global marketing strategy that is true to your core brand identity while also meeting local needs and expectations.

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Neil Patel

source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/global-marketing/