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When Pepsi launched in China, they sought out for a slogan which can complement their brand name. In doing so, the original slogan “Pepsi brings you back to life” translated into the Chinese language as something along the lines of “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” A bold claim which created a massive riot across the Chinese markets.
Celebrity endorsements are a great way to grab the trust of people. But, who you solicit as a brand ambassador, can make all the difference. A brand of FIAT, vying to expand its operations into China, launched an ad featuring Richard Gere. The Hollywood actor is an open Buddhist and campaigner for Tibetan independence. The Italy-based Chinese diplomats construing the ad as having a political undertone, circulated the ad, flaring up anger and violence against the Hollywood actor, ensuing in a boycott of the brand itself. One of the largest brands in the Asian market suffered a lot due to this brand endorsement.
The solution doesn’t just circulate around nit-picking the issues in multicultural marketing – it centers on transforming the definition of the marketplace itself. In cross-culture branding, the focus lies not just on creating additional silos for the consumers, but understanding that consumer’s interest is now expanding beyond their communities.
The two examples cited above illustrate the value of cultural understanding for a global brand. Both Pepsi and FIAT have a global audience with different customer needs and demands. These are not ordinary brands, they are classical brands. So, they learn from their mistakes.
Akin to these, there are other brands who have faced this cross-cultural barrier in the past. Let’s see what we can learn from cross-culture brands that are popular around the globe.
McDonald’s is ranked as the 6th most important brand and here are some of its cross-culture branding secrets.
The Cross-culture testing
Whenever McDonald’s plans to enter a market, the food experts start off by gleaning a taste of the local cuisines in the region.
For instance, when you walk into a McDonalds in Japan, in addition to the traditional menu, you will find “The Teri Tama Burger” served in spring, and “The Tsukimi Burger” on the lists during the autumn season. While in the US, the “McRibs” is available for a limited period each year.
Before you launch your brand in the global market, you need to think of the consequences and the response you will experience in each market. Experimenting in the local market is your best bet to resonating with the audience there, and it is often carried out by eliminating or adding food from menus pertaining to local popularity and the latest consumer trends in that region.
The Secret Sauce
McDonald’s is a global brand because their branding and marketing strategy is based on uniformity. Regardless of where you go, if there is a McDonalds there, you’ll feel right at home with a Big Mac.
You can adopt this global marketing strategy as well. Keep your few services on a global level. Regardless of where your target customer is, you should have a Big Mac which can give the same feeling as any other part of the world.
McDonald’s is a global brand and it is important for them to keep things consistent throughout the globe. The same kind of experience and atmosphere that you get with every outlet around the world, translates into the fact that your expectations will be fulfilled because you know what you can expect from the restaurant.
Universal Product Marketing
The differences in the US and Japanese markets run deeper than taste. For this reason, McDonald’s opted for a localized touch in the market.
For instance, in Japan, the brand name is adjusted to ‘Makudonarudo’, (マクドナルド), which is more appropriate and sounds better in Japanese.
The drink sizes and French fries are also smaller in size as compared to the ones in the US market to cater to the local dietary habits. McDonald’s ensures stringent product checks before the shipment is sent out to the region.
The importance of cross culture banding
The overpricing problem
When Starbucks ventured a tentative foot forward inside France and Europe, people considered it a low-quality Coffee which was exorbitantly over-priced.
In France, Starbucks tackled the problem with conviction and long-haul thinking. They introduced ‘Vienesse’ coffee; low price Coffee to cater to the local markets of France. The result: an Instant success.
When a similar price problem cropped up in Europe, Starbucks took a different approach. Starbucks mirrored the local styles of cafes to meet the demands of the European audience. For instance in Amsterdam, stores were built keeping the local culture in perspective and setting a scenery that synched with the culture.
The Design & the Sweetness Issue
Starbucks consists of 18 design centers and each one of them understands the norms of design. But, when Starbucks entered in Japan they faced a different design problem. In Japan, the low roof culture is a tradition that matches with the culture of Japan. To overcome this problem, Starbucks collaborated with some local designers to recreate the spirit of the city within their stores.
Fukuoka, in Kyushu, has a Starbucks store comprised entirely of wooden blocks instead of the typical Starbucks design we have become accustomed to. In Japan, wood is synonymous with peace and tranquility and to honor the ethos, Starbucks adopted this design.
Another issue which Starbucks faced was that of sweetness. Low-sugar products are all the rage in the US, but people love foods with a high-level of sweetness. So, Starbucks amped up the level of sweetness in their bread, sandwiches, and Coffees to name a few.
To wrap things up
The world is growing fast. If you have an online business, your customers will be everyone and you have to cater to them based on their cultural needs.
In order to capture the lion’s share of the market, cross-culture branding is something that every brand needs to tap into, regardless of its nature or size.
The above-mentioned brands are globally popular which makes them responsible to cater to the needs of their customers coming from every part of the world. There is no question about adopting or not adopting the cross-culture race. If you want to grow fast in this multi-cultural world, you need to take the world with you or risk falling behind.