Shaun Rein

Global brands are focusing increasingly on China’s domestic consumption, but they will lose out if they do not take localization and the wishes of China’s consumers serious, writes business analyst Shaun Rein in CNBC. He recalls an international footwear company with sluggish sales in China.

Shaun Rein:

Even worse, the head of marketing refused to let his colleagues based in China alter advertising developed for the home market in any way, even forbidding the use of Chinese language in all ad copy. Posters and brochures in China were identical to campaigns run in Africa, Europe and America. Consumers told us later in interviews they were confused by ads with English taglines and product descriptions. Most had “no idea” what the writing meant which “often drove them to buy other brands.”

When I asked the marketing head why he did not want to “localize” he gave me the line which many brand managers surprisingly still use, “We are a global brand and global brands have to ensure standardization across all markets.”

Being a global brand in today’s world no longer means using the same standard advertising copy, product lines, and brand positioning in all markets. Truly global brands must localize product development and advertising campaigns for key markets. No longer does simply transporting what worked in the Western world to markets like China work.

More in CNBC.

Shaun Rein is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

More on Shaun Rein and China’s economy at Storify.

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