INSIDE BUSINESS: Tread carefully in the global village

"THINK global, act local" has become the marketing director's mantra heard in boardrooms around the world. Yet much cross-border marketing activity has been premature and too sophisticated, and has overlooked the importance of detailed research into local differences in consumer attitudes, according to a report by Ogilvy & Mather, the advertising agency.

The growth of transnational media, from satellite television to the Internet, has persuaded many companies to establish global strategies. But it has also fostered a false sense of security, persuading some to believe in communities, or groups of consumers, that do not exist.

Transnational media are inevitably indiscriminate, the agency warns. The "footprint" of the satellite that covers Asia carrying Rupert Murdoch's Star TV spans more than 3 billion people in 43 countries.

But local differences in attitude and perception are critical. "People at different stages in the evolution of their understanding and attitudes to advertising and brands will interpret marketing messages in distinctly different ways," says Sheila Byfield, director of O&M Media. "It's not a question of avoiding transnational media, but of more carefully appreciating just who will receive your message, and ensuring the creative execution caters for this."

The growth of themed transnational channels, such as Eurosport and MTV, confirms that irrespective of location, people sharing a particular interest or way of life can have more in common with each other than their neighbours. This is underlined by the growth of the Internet, she says: " 'Virtual communities' are being created, composed of people with like interests, probably more so than can be found in their own home town." The Internet is a global medium, linking users around the world simultaneously. But it also offers opportunities to tap into many smaller collections of consumers, grouped together by common interest irrespective of location, culture or language. Current estimates predict 750 million regular Internet users by 2000.

But Ms Byfield warns that despite huge opportunities to reach "tribes of consumers" on the Internet, there are also many chances to get it wrong. "Internet users are more critical of messages they receive, and expectations of standards of creativity and innovation are high because the Internet is a relatively 'new' medium," she says.

The notion of tribes of consumers must also be acknowledged when evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns, says Linda Caller, international planning director at O&M. "It may be that a brand suddenly stops growing: it has only succeeded in penetrating a hitherto unforeseen island in that society." She says it will become less important to know that a company has a particular percentage share of a national market, more important to know it has achieved maximum growth among its core target group.

Research must be more finely honed. Where experience of consumer choice is limited, as in newer markets such as Eastern Europe or parts of Asia, conventional research into product preferences cannot be taken for granted. Findings can be distorted. Choice and brand loyalty may not yet have real meaning in markets where the imported alternative costs a month's wages. "Without greater understanding there is a danger of premature extrapolation, of seeking conceptual sophistication before the necessary groundwork has been laid," the report warns.

Misunderstanding local variations in consumer attitudes results in marketing activity that can damage by being out of step with a brand's core values, it concludes. This can only be overcome by identifying the core values of a brand, described by Ms Byfield as the brand's "DNA". She adds: "This, and only this, is what will travel."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss