What is marketing’s biggest challenge? I am sure 9 out of 10 answers to that question would refer to technologies, big data or the pace at which the consumer landscape is evolving. Interestingly though, they are by far the easier puzzles to solve in marketing. On the other hand, globalization stands out as one of the toughest challenges, if not the toughest.
In an intriguing Forrester report, Zia Daniell Wigder and Martin Gill share a few encouraging facts and insights into the global markets, their rise in the last decade and a potential look into the future. (Click on this infographic by Kyle Anthony Miller on the globalization of eCommerce.)
With the opening of the World Cup this month, globalization will be at the top of marketers’ minds. A number of factors are contributing to its growth:
- Global expansion of marketing technology and e-commerce platforms
- Global partnership models between global and niche local players
- Strategic acquisitions by the leading platform and service providers
- Widespread innovation, no longer restricted to North America
Despite the opportunities, infrastructure expansion and growing market maturity, it has not been easy for organizations to replicate the growth globally for a few reasons:
- Organizational models: Is the business and strategic decision-making done at the local market level or does it roll up into a global team?
- Funding models: Local P&Ls can make decision-making a huge challenge while an entirely centralized model can slow down local growth and efficiencies.
- Complex and varying global market landscape: The opportunities are global, but strategies and consumer needs are extremely local.
- One-size-fits-all mindset: A typical temptation to drive effectiveness and reuse through a common solution, which is almost impossible with all the diversity.
- Global versus local drivers and priorities: A global initiative usually focuses on efficiency, cost effectiveness and reuse while local needs are focused on speed, agility and business results.
While there may not be a perfect recipe to globalize your brands, there are definitely some best practices that could be considered:
- COE, or a Center of Excellence, is only a beginning. It’s a great model to incubate globalization, but don’t think of it as the end
- Establish a hybrid model and provide “freedom within a framework.” Avoid either extreme; a completely centralized model thwarts speed and agility while a completely localized approach can create a highly complex and unmanageable ecosystem. Build frameworks, processes that provide re-use at the lowest level while giving local markets flexibility to “adopt and adapt.”
- Centrally-guided but locally-controlled and managed. Create best practices, strategies and operational processes as guidelines and starting points, but allow local markets to adopt and tweak these based on local needs and influences.
- Invest in globalization. It is a strategic business opportunity. Brands need to invest in establishing global leaders that can enable local markets to win.
- Don’t look for a “common” size. There is no common solution for global needs, instead think of archetypes that address most challenges, if not all.
Globalization isn’t the easiest puzzle to solve; there is no standard solution that will work for all organizations. It is extremely dependent on factors both internal and external to the way an organization is set up, controlled and managed. But one thing is certain, organizations will have to find unique ways to solve it or be ready to lose the rat race.