世界还不太“平” / The World: Not Quite Flat Just Yet

世界还不太“平”

约翰•奎尔奇和凯瑟琳•乔克斯在介绍他们的新书《商业本地化策略:地点在全球化、虚拟化世界中的重要性》时,分阶段讨论了以下话题:

“过去几年,我们听到过各种各样关于世界秩序的讯息。有些专家学者说世界是平的,而另一些人则坚持世界是尖的。有些政客和观察家说世界文化和价值正在趋同,而另一些人却说文化分歧正在制造世界矛盾。有些人为全球化大唱赞歌,但另一些人却担心它的危险性。有些人说消费者渴望生活在数码云端之上,但我们却依然看重实际中的接触。唯一确定的是:竞争走势让跨国公司一下子摸不着头脑,不得不四处出击。”

上述种种叠加起来,恰好构成了令人困惑而又自相矛盾的土壤,让商业领袖在平衡全球策略和本土策略之间纠结不已。正如书中指出,身处当下,对本地及全球动态的不理解和不接纳正变得愈加危险。

标准化的全球市场计划和本土化之争出现的时间并不长,大约是在30年前受到西奥多•莱维特文章的影响。莱维特主张应在某种全球消费需求的基础上建立全球标准化。但后来的经验表明,离开有选择性的本土化,盲目的标准化注定将会失败。

本书传达的一个重要信息是,“地点(Place)”并非大多数商业学生所学的4P(Product产品、Price价格、Promotion推广、Place地点)中最薄弱的因素。书中对网络虚拟销售及传统零售中地点在消费者心理上的微妙差别给予了新的阐述。

这对企业经理和市场营销人员也有重要的意义,因为尽管电子商务的增长显著,但大量经济活动还是发生在本地。

关于社交网络,作者所持的观点是,随着新奇感逐渐消退,这些网站将“越来越多地部分取代现实中的朋友、邻居,或村庄、乡镇、城市中的社交网络及文化政治机构。”

也许不同年龄的人会有不同的反应,但我是能认同这个观点的。

书中提到了星巴克的霍华德•舒尔茨,把他当作巧妙利用本土化实现国际推广的典范。舒尔茨将星巴克构想为第三处社交场所(首先是家,其次是单位),在那里人们可以和朋友、同事随意放松。在扩大与消费者的接触上,星巴克的目标不是增加5,000间店面,而是让消费者造访一个店面5,000次。

“尊重当地的价值和品味,扎根社区,国际品牌就可以拓宽吸引力,在消费者中建立起更强的信任感。”

该书还一一检视了地点心理的变化、消费者的身份感如何融入多层次的地域感、以及成功的营销人员如何将这些知识运用到日常工作中等问题,并在此基础上探讨了网络和是真实市场的异同。

地点和品牌的关系是值得中国读者特别关注的话题,因为它蕴含着丰富的尚未开发的潜力。

如何平衡国际营销和本地营销是跨国公司在中国市场面临的考验,中国企业在进入国际消费市场时也会遇到越来越多的相同的问题。取胜的关键在于要培养出土生土长的营销人员,这些人既要了解当地消费者的情况,又要对国外的理念持开放的态度,能够集二者之精华并加以有机的利用。

正如某些企业从教训中学会的,营销人员在适应和顺从本地需求时,绝不能削弱国际品牌的核心价值。

“所有的业务都是本地的业务”,这听上去既通俗易懂,又不乏真实案例,提示我们真正的国际化管理进程才刚刚起步,而国际化的程度也还有待加深。

对任何有兴趣在新兴消费者市场推广国际品牌和本土品牌的人来说,这本书都很有帮助,也很有启迪。

The World: Not Quite Flat Just Yet

In the introduction to their excellent new book, “All Business is Local — Why Place Matters More Than Ever in A Global, Virtual World”, authors John A. Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz set the stage for the discussion of the topic as follows:

“In the past few years, we’ve been given mixed messages about how the world is arranged. Some scholars and pundits tell us the world is flat while others insist it’s spiky. Some politicians and observers tell us that cultures and values are converging, while others point to cultural divergences that generate world conflict. Some praise globalization, while others point to its dangers. We’re told consumers want to live in a digital cloud but still value the importance of physical touch. Only one thing is certain: competing trends are pulling multinational firms in all directions at once.”

That nicely sums up the confusing and paradoxical landscape which confronts business leaders seeking to balance global and local strategies. As the book points out, failure to understand and embrace both — local and global dynamics — is becoming riskier in today’s environment.

The ongoing debate over the merits of standardized global marketing programs versus local adaptation is a fairly recent phenomenon, which began about 30 years ago with an influential article by Theodore Levitt, who advocated global standardization based on certain universal consumer needs. However, experience later showed that blind standardization without selective adaptation to local conditions was bound to fail.

An important message in this book is that “place” should not be the weak sister among the 4Ps which most business students are taught about: product, price, promotion, and place. The book sheds new light on the nuances of place in consumer psychology, in both the virtual online world and the traditional world of retail.

There are important lessons for managers and marketers here, since despite the phenomenal growth of online commerce, the bulk of economic activity remains local.

On social networking, the authors take the view that as the novelty continues to fade away, these sites will “increasingly be viewed as incomplete substitutes for the physical presence of friends and neighbors, or for the network of social, cultural and political institutions of an actual village, town or city.”

Maybe it’s a reflection of age, but that’s a view I can definitely identify with.

They cite Howard Schultz of Starbucks as an example of a global marketer who is intelligently local. He conceived of Starbucks as the third social place (the first being home, the second being the work place) where people could relax with friends or colleagues. Rather than reach customers through five thousand outlets, Starbucks aims to reach customers through one store five thousand times.

“By respecting local values and local tastes, by rooting themselves in the community, global brands broaden their appeal and build deeper trust with their consumers.”

The book examines the changing psychology of place, how the consumer’s sense of personal identity involves a many-layered sense of geographical place; and how successful marketers incorporate this knowledge into their efforts. It then builds on this, to explore the differences and parallels between online and virtual marketplaces.

The relationship between place and branding is a subject worthy of special attention among readers in China, because it is rich with unexploited potential.

How to balance global and local marketing is a challenge which MNCs have faced in the China market, and Chinese companies will increasingly face as they move into international consumer markets. A key factor in success is to develop home-grown marketers with local consumer knowledge who remain open to ideas from other countries in an effort to combine and synthesize the best of both worlds.

As some companies have learned the hard way, marketers must draw the line at undermining the core positioning of the global brand as they adapt and adjust to local market needs.

“All Business is Local” is very readable and filled with real-world examples. It is a reminder of just how recent the management dynamics of globalization really are, and the extent to which they are still a work in progress.

This is a very useful, thought-provoking read for anyone interested in marketing global or local brands in the newly emerging consumer landscape.


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