Around the world, when people think of Nike, the “Swoosh” comes to mind. The company’s global expansion from a single retail outlet to 170 countries makes Nike a popular marketing case study.
How does Nike do it? Marketers who aspire to build global brands may find inspiration in researching the answer. But there are elements of operating in global environments that marketers at every level need to consider, including the avoidance of embarrassing mistakes, or worse.
Marketers who want to succeed in global markets can advance their skills by earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA). For example, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi offers an MBA in International Business that emphasizes marketing in global environments.
What Goes Into Building Global Marketing Strategies?
The strategies that work in the home market may not be relevant or even culturally appropriate for international audiences. Global marketing demands detailed research to confirm product-market fit. Four considerations for tailoring marketing efforts to global markets are as follows:
- Understand compliance requirements
Global marketing starts with identifying the countries you want to get into. As part of this process, it is important to research compliance requirements that may affect marketing campaigns.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, was a game-changer for marketers. GDPR went into effect in 2018, requiring marketers to obtain explicit permission for activating cookies that collect personal data. As a result, popups and banners started appearing on websites requiring users to accept, reject or control cookies.
Violating GDPR privacy and security standards can result in fines in the tens of millions of euros. While GDPR may make it more difficult to market to customers in the EU, it is also an opportunity for marketers to find creative ways to build more authentic relationships.
- Get to know your target market
Unlike Coca-Cola, which started building its global brand in the 1920s, today’s marketers can reach a global audience with the internet. But reaping the rewards of that expansion means more than translating content into other languages. Following are a few considerations for analyzing target markets in other countries.
- Communication plays a central role in marketing. But it only works if people understand the intended meaning. In-country linguists can help ensure content is correct and will not offend.
- Consider which social media channels you should use. In the U.S., for example, the preferred channels for millennials might be Facebook and Instagram. However, if your audience is millennials in the Netherlands, Statista suggests WhatsApp is the most popular. Social media trends are constantly changing, making research your best friend.
- Will a digital approach work? According to DataReportal, as of April 2022, there were five billion internet users worldwide — 63% of the global population. Still, traditional channels such as flyers, brochures and print catalogs may get a higher response rate in some markets.
- Consider cultural differences
Think about the importance of color to a brand. Coca-Cola’s iconic red is one example. Apple’s original rainbow logo is now plain (but sleek) black. Colors can be symbolic, and what they symbolize can vary depending on the country and culture.
Marketers must research what their brand’s colors may signify in global markets to avoid unintended messages. Failing to research cultural aspects of target audiences can result in costly mistakes, as a Google search of “biggest global marketing failures” demonstrates.
Failing to research email etiquette may not be disastrous, but it could easily impact sales. In the U.S., “Hey, Ana!” may be an acceptable, even effective, greeting. But emails in some countries may require a formal approach.
Localization is the process of adapting marketing assets and activities for each target audience. Translating content into native languages is part of localization, but there is more to it. In addition to topics discussed earlier, examples of localized marketing include:
- Formatting dates, addresses and phone numbers according to local use
- Using international business phone numbers to own local numbers and establish a local presence
- Making sure that the website and check-out process are adapted to the local market
- Modifying products for local preferences, as with Dunkin’s global flavors
How important are localized experiences? According to a 2021 Unbabel survey, 68% of consumers will switch to brands that offer native-language support.
The global market offers opportunities to boost a company’s customer base and increase revenue. To succeed, it is crucial to understand the risks that come with global marketing and the necessity of researching local markets. An advanced business degree with a focus on international business can equip you with these capabilities.