Taking global ideas home

Nowadays I seldom involve in campaigns that cover only one market. I am also increasingly involving in brands that need to adapt creatively in different markets – as oppose to the traditional standardization of messages.

We are living in an increasingly transparent world. Globalization does not turn consumers into one homogenous type, it intensifies the differences between cultures. Marketing your brand in a different country takes more than simply communicating in a different language, you have to start from as early as the product development stage.

Not just local – brands get personal:

When it comes to lifestyle products, things get personal. If you want to connect with consumers on a personal level, global brands need to know how to strategically adapt it for the local market.

Ikea, the furniture retailer famous for its functional-yet-stylish designs, have experienced healthy growth in sales rise by almost 8pc in 2010 in China. The success as credited to the strategic decision to adapt the brand for the local market:

  • Creating an appropriate Chinese name 宜家 (pronounce ‘Yi jia’) which means “comfortable homes”
  • Great pricing strategy coupled with smart centralization of production. When first introduced in China, Ikea mostly attracted the affluent crowd simply because the prices were considered too high by Chinese standards. Nowadays, the prices in Ikea’s Chinese stores have been slashed across the board by over 50 percent.
  • The self-service concept of the customers driving their new bookshelves home and then assembling them themselves didn’t make sense to the Chinese, lessons were learnt and now home delivery is offered by outsourcing to a specialized company.
  • Creating localized product line such as special themed furniture sold only during the Chinese New Year. The range consists mainly of textiles that are red or patterned with the animals of the zodiac.
  • In each store, the Ikea store features large showrooms modeling various home furniture solutions for the local clientele. For example, in Beijing, people usually don’t have a big dining table in the living room (oh yes, dining table is seldom placed in the kitchen). Locally styled model dining rooms with small tables for just two or four people are featured.

The latest catalogues, traditionally one of their main marketing tool, feature subtle differences in the design and content of the editions for UK, US and China.


(from L to R, top to bottom – UK, China, US.)

Notice the subtle differences between the shot on the cover of the Chinese version and the US version.

Is there any brand that looks the same anywhere in the world but distinctively feels different locally in your market? I like to hear from you.

Twitter: @louiechow