Questions marketers must consider are as follows:
Should companies try to localize their brands in consumers’ minds?
Should brands maintain their Western messaging?
Even the biggest retailer in the world has struggled with these questions. Walmart’s challenge is to meet local needs and tastes while keeping costs down. After a few missteps, catering to regional differences has now become Walmart’s strength. What Walmart discovered is that even their most successful ideas don’t always translate in an international context. For example in Sao Paulo, Brazil, big stores are not popular because there is too much traffic, making it difficult to navigate to a parking lot.
Walmart has been trying to meet the need of poorer consumers in Brazil. The company funded a community center which includes a gynecologist’s office, an Internet café and a bank offering microloans. The center offers free computer classes for teenagers as well. These actions have helped improve Walmart’s reputation in the community.
According to Walmart’s 2010 annual report, Walmart International, their fast growing division, surpassed $100 billion in net sales for the year, representing 24.7% of the company’s total sales. There are 4,263 stores and 660,000 workers in 15 countries outside the United States, including Japan, India, Brazil, UK, Mexico and Canada. [Source: Bustillo, Miguel, “After early errors, Walmart thinks locally to act globally,” Wall Street Journal, Aug 14, 1009, pp. A1, A10.] The idea that a company adapts to the local market is called glocalization.
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