The Global Brand Experience: How to Be Market-Specific

It was summer 2011 when the Coca-Cola Company introduced its iconic Share a Coke campaign. The initiative replaced the infamous Coke logo on the product label with the 150 most popular names in Australia. And, the result was 250 million bottles sold that season. The brand attributes success to helping consumers be expressive and allowing them “to share the experience with someone.” It’s no surprise, since then, the experience has reached 100 countries and continues to expand.

In India, for example, the Share a Coke campaign has recently launched. And, as usual, brand marketing strategists are making sure to get personal with its target audience. To do so, the Coca-Cola director for India, Ajay Bathija, explains they didn’t want to “copy-paste the global template.” Instead, they built a country-specific campaign to resonate with Indian youth. That involved research and interactions with consumers, with whom, together, it created a campaign, says Ajay.

This is fitting since the bottles in India honor relationships, and their messages allow them to connect. One example is “Daddy (My teacher. My friend).” And, though this may be different from the approach and products in other countries, the goal is the same worldwide. And, that is to build relationships with consumers. In the U.S., the Coca-Cola “Share Chair” recently made its debut. The over-sized armchair brings together two people and serves as “a ‘shareable’ vending machine.” That means it sends personal cans up through its arms when they sit down and captures the moment by camera when it happens. The effort not only results in consumer-consumer bonds. It will endear consumers to the Coca-Cola brand, too, to strengthen the relationships of all affected. In short, Coca-Cola has found a way to offer a global brand experience tailored to local markets.

Why Your Global Brand Experience Must Be Local

High-level positions at the local level, like Ajay’s, are becoming more commonplace. In fact, CPG snack giant, Mondelez International, recently assigned regional CMOs to be more local. These people live in the areas they work to have first-hand knowledge of the culture and what messages and tactics work best. A Harvard Business Review article says it’s these local resources that make the difference in global marketing. That’s because “these individuals not only know the country in question, they know your business.” It also tells that brands can’t enter new markets “by following the same playbook that brought them domestic success. While brand consistency is important, different markets favor different sales and marketing approaches.”

To illustrate, a HuffPost piece points out that “American movies do not do well in China, or India, or Brazil, as examples.” So, just as you wouldn’t take a potential client in China to an American movie, you wouldn’t want to submit them to an American-based campaign either. Your brand would not appear genuine in its interest. It would not offer an authentic brand experience, which is what consumers worldwide desire.

In fact, 88% of global consumers will reward a brand, such as with their loyalty or through recommendations, for its authenticity. This is through your ability to make it appear “reliable, respectful, and real” – the three R’s. A Mars marketing executive – at the local level, UK – sums it all up well. She says “a real authenticity” is necessary “between the brand and the people” to have a durable relationship. But, of the three R’s, “it is the ‘Real’ dimension where many brands are challenged.” Fortunately, easy, authentic ways exist to offer your global brand experience in targeted local markets.

3 Easy Ways to Be Authentic at the Local Level

Look to other global brands’ examples to find your own success at the local level. Here are three proven ways.

1. Partner with a brand that knows the target area.

A recent headline reads, “Move Over LaCroix, Ugly Drinks Are Cool For the Summer.” And, it’s not referring to unattractive beverages. It’s talking about the “zero-calorie, zero-sugar sparkling water,” which contains nothing artificial. Yet, only a month before, another headline tells of the U.K. brand’s pending launch into the U.S. – an “increasingly crowded” market that, in 2016, raked in more than $2 billion. It was this same year that the Ugly Drinks brand was founded in the U.K. And, in less than two years, it has become available in over 2,500 retailers. The climb wouldn’t be so easy in the U.S., so it sought help from native company, Green Park Brands, owner of popular snack brand, Hippeas, to be successful.

Hippeas shares the same target audience and has itself become a CPG star in U.S. and the U.K. in less than two years. Ugly Drinks will leverage its know-how, though its clear executives already know what’s necessary to have a consistent global brand experience. They plan to rely on “tongue-in-cheek authenticity,” while making “subtle adjustments for the U.S. market.”

2. Offer an authentic experience.

Coca-Cola, for example, continuously shows us the value of a good experience in any market. And, the Share a Coke campaign in India is no exception. Ajay reveals there is also plans for “an elaborate experiential leg” to follow current efforts. That’s because experiential marketing proves itself time and again to be an invaluable means for showing authenticity and building relationships.

Brands of all kinds use experiential marketing tactics to get face-to-face with consumers in local markets. For Scotland craft beer brand, Brewdog, its global brand experience uses its loud, provoking personality to highlight issues or current events at the local level. Around its U.S. launch, for example, it set up a bar at the U.S.-Mexico border to bring together craft beer enthusiasts from both sides. Not long after, it made several stops in several U.S. states, where it hosted launch events and product sampling programs at popular venues. In the same vein, when U.S. beauty brand, Glossier, expanded into the U.K., it activated a London pop-up shop and engaged area influencers. Their local reach drove 10,000 visitors in just one week.

3. Use local event staff to be more relatable.

Glossier shows us the power of using local people to generate interest. That’s because they are relatable to those who live in the market—products of the same culture. And, this makes them authentic, which in turn, makes the brand authentic since they personify the brand.

Monster Energy is one of many great examples. When the U.S.-based brand sought to launch its non-carbonated energy drink, Monster Hydro, throughout the U.K. and Ireland, it looked to local event staff to make the impression it desired. A team of trained brand ambassadors stood ready to make a mark at their designated spots among the total 252 targeted spots and events in the campaign. This event marketing tactic not only reduces expenses for brands due to no or little travel costs. It puts the right people in place to strengthen relationships where stakeholders need them.


At Elevate, we’ve got the people you need to offer a world-class experience in your consumers’ backyards. Contact us to learn how we can help you meet goals where it matters most.


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