How Local, Global or Glocal is your brand?

Good news, brand aficionados! A recent study we’ve come across has found a new way to categorise brands according to consumer perceptions, rather than academic criteria.

This has broad implications, with brands categorised into ‘global’, ‘local’, ‘glocal’ and ‘functional’, and presents a new way to categorise brands that is perhaps more ‘real world’ and applicable to industries1.

In the past two decades, an interesting tension has existed between global and local brands. On one hand, global brands have benefits in terms of economy, marketing and organisation2, as well as consumer perception that it is an international brand3 – consumers associate the brand with quality, prestige and upward mobility (think Louis Vuitton, Hilton).

On the other hand, consumers have consistently been shown to respond positively to local brands, particularly those that are embedded in the local culture – and these also generate a more positive response in the market4. Local brands are also seen as better tailored to local consumers’ needs, as well as having more flexible pricing than global brands5. For Australian readers, think Coles, Myer, Suncorp.

(There is also the category of ‘functional’ brands – those which are neither global or local, but rather positioned with low-income consumers based on perceived value for money and adequate quality – however these exist somewhat outside the ‘global/local/glocal’ realm and don’t need to be discussed here6.

As you may well imagine, global companies have attempted to straddle the local/global divide by ‘glocal positioning’, connecting consumers with local symbolism and advertising, perhaps with varying degrees of success7. This strategy is based on the idea of ‘think global, act local’, with a combination of global and local elements which take into account local issues.

From this scenario comes the need for a valid measurement tool that is able to measure consumer perception of a brand – just how local, global or glocal is it? To address this question, a recent study of Mexican consumers developed an instrument to categorise brands into global, local or glocal. Their measures were based on the ideas of localism and globalism as not necessarily on different ends of a spectrum, but rather can co-occur1.

The measure that was used asked questions measuring Perceived Brand Globalness (PBG), such as: ‘To me this is a global brand’, ‘I think consumers in other countries buy this brand’, ‘This brand is only sold in xx country’, and Perceived Brand Localness (PBL), such as ‘I associate this brand with things that are from xx country’, ‘To me, this brand does not represent what xx country is’. The outcome measures were either Local, Global, Glocal or Functional. 

So what are the implications of this work? One of the major benefits is that marketers can use this methodology to verify how consumers categorise their brands – and tailor their marketing accordingly. Brands that are viewed as global can emphasise global availability and reach (think Apple and Vodafone), while brands viewed as local can use local themes, symbols and spokespeople.

A brand that is considered ‘glocal’ (high in PBG and high in PBL) can integrate both local and global elements, emphasising the benefits of getting global quality with a local touch. Think of a brand like McDonalds – a truly global brand, but one that can brand itself as ‘local’ by using Australian beef and having products that tap into Australian cultural touchstones – and of course by adopting the name ‘Maccas’ to be more Australian.

What other companies have you noticed treading the lucrative line between local and global marketing – and who is doing it better than others at the moment? Please feel free to leave comments below to keep the conversation going.

  1. Llonch-Andreu, J., López-Lomelí, M. Á., & Gómez-Villanueva, J. E. (2016). How local/global is your brand?. International Journal Of Market Research, 58(6), 795-813.
  2. Steenkamp, J.-B.E.M., Batra, R. 8c Alden, D.L. (2003) How perceived brand globalness creates brand value. Journal of International Business Studies, 34, 1, pp. 53-65.
  3. Steenkamp, J.-B.E.M. (2014) How global brands create firm value: the 4V model. International Marketing Review, 31, 1, pp. 5-29.
  4. Ozsomer, A. (2012) The interplay between global and local brands: a closer look at perceived brand globalness and local iconness .Journal of International Marketing, 20, 2, pp. 72-95.
  5. Schuiling, I. 8c Kapferer, J.N. (2004) Executive insights: real differences between local and international brands: strategic implications for international marketers. Journal of International Marketing, 12, 4, pp. 97-112.
  6. Steenkamp, J.-B.E.M. 8c De Jong, M.G. (2010) A global investigation into the constellation of consumer attitudes toward global and local products. Journal of Marketing, 74, 6, pp. 18^10.
  7. Elliot, R. 8c Yannopoulou, N. (2007) The nature of trust in brands: a psychosocial model. European Journal of Marketing, 41, 9/10, pp. 988-998.

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