The puzzle of globalization

One of the things I enjoy doing on the weekends is read the Saturday essay on WSJ. This week’s essay is about the story of globalization, and it hit straight home– not just literally, with the mention of Manila as the location that triggered this phenomenon, but also at an creative and intellectual level, since I have a penchant for essays as a literary form, and the study of globalization is one of my great interests (I minored in it in college).

The article made me realize how interconnected and distant the world is. Forces, great and small, push and pull people from all parts of the world into another, and how culture and ideologies native to a particular place can separate those who are from elsewhere.

Marketers need to understand a country and its culture first before targeting its population, which is why big companies tap into their branch offices in the countries they’re interested in, or elect the services of a local firm that can help them understand the local society. This is a challenge for marketers because the whole process of planning and activating the right marketing mix for a particular campaign, brand and audience is made more complicated by the differences in how other cultures receive and perceive information. It’s probably safe to say that a lot of things get lost in translation.

What’s even more difficult is launching a new category, or at least, introducing a product that’s new to a certain locale. It’s more than just entering a market, it’s making sure the messaging and usage of the product resonate with the target population.

The challenge to deliver a product to a new place is also thrilling. If you are able to connect to the locals and engage them with your product, opportunities abound. It may even be possible to corner a market or give the company enough time to develop without competition. It can also bring the world together– when two strangers from different parts of the world encounter each other and recognize your brand, it creates an affinity between them. This is true especially for brands that are relatively not well known or only have visibility in selected regions.

The fast-changing landscapes of globalization and technology are the reasons why marketers can never be complacent in their jobs. New ideas and innovations emerge, and it is the keen marketer who has the savvy to make these tools purposeful in his or her quest to connect with consumers, and has the foresight to determine which new tool or concept have potential and which of those just add to the noise.

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