Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lost in translation? Why global brands need a local story.

Everyone aspires to luxury, right? Not according to Tyler Brûlé, the Canadian-born journalist, entrepreneur, and magazine publisher, who argues that consumers around the world think and behave differently, shaped by their local culture, history and values. Luxury brand Gucci for example, which is hot in Japan and the US, holds little appeal in Sweden where people prize social equality.(It’s little wonder that the massively democratic retailers H&M and IKEA are Swedish.)   

Several years ago Britain’s BBC4 ran a series presented by Brule called Counter Culture, which examined the consumer mindset in JapanLibyaSwedenItaly and the US.  He found that marketing, like politics, always has a  local dynamic. The Telegraph newspaper ran an article about Brule's show that’s still worth reading. Only the episode on Libya can be viewed on the web and it is fascinating. The other episodes are sold online. 

Recently the Financial Times ran a story about Russia's growing preference for home-grown fashion designers. According to Igor Chapurin, a noted Russian designer, after the end of the drab Soviet years Russian consumers gravitated to flashy western designers such as Versace and Valentino. Now they favor monochrome, low-key looks created by domestic talent who have a better grasp of Russian tastes and attitudes.

Mashable has an excellent post on international marketing with insights (and tips) on tailoring digital programs to vastly different audiences. 

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