10 May 2010

Why Global Brands matter

When we think of global category leaders, Coca-Cola and McDonald's are top-of-mind examples. Even if they aren't #1 in every country, they're big globally.

Some big global brands, however, are a combination of different brands in different countries. If you travel abroad you may notice that Pledge in other countries is Pronto, Pliz or Blem.

Reckitt Benckiser, a large CPG company, recently rebranded some products so they could market the same product under a common, global brand. U.S. readers may have noticed recently that Electrosol dishwasher detergent is changing to Finish - as it is known in the rest of the world. Reckitt also rebranded many household insecticides under Mortein. It was noted this week that Starbucks' Via brand instant coffee is going global as well.

Why have a global brand?

Why should a brand be global? Most of the reasons cited in company propaganda tout the cost efficiencies of having the same product, package, and promotion around the world. To be sure, this benefit would extend to reducing staff in local subsidiaries who were responsible for commercializing products locally.

There is another opportunity to consider: Social media. A recent post by venture capitalist Fred Wilson points out that most visitors to major online resources are from outside the United States: 72% of visitors on Twitter, 78% on Facebook, and 84% on Google. None of these numbers are very surprising.

Fred’s point was that these companies need to pay as much attention to monetizing their usage around the world as they do in the United States. He wisely pointed out that this will happen faster for some countries than for others.

Global brands permit global conversation

If you have ever tracked your brand on any social media, you know that people are discussing it, and in some cases spelling it differently or slightly misstating the brand or product name. Imagine trying to track this conversation if your brand name is different from country to country.

Years ago this didn’t matter, not only because consumers didn’t regularly communicate with others abroad, but because marketing was so different from country to country. Today you are likely to have the same product marketed under the same name, if not globally, then in every country within the Euro Zone, NAFTA, ASEAN or other international trading areas.

Prediction about Global Brands

Social media is likely to speed the homogenization of disparate brands sold by global marketers.

1 comment:

  1. Having worked with the Likes of P&G, Unilever and KC, the power of global brands is pretty clear. These guys spend enormous sums of money marketing their brands around the planet but this represents a fraction of what they invest from a supply chain, packaging and trade terms perspectives. The cost of packaging alone is a significant cost, especially if you have differing brand names around the globe.

    So from a cost perspective, homogenous branding makes absolute sense. I also agree that the internet and social media in particular are increasingly driving forces behind brand conversations. But just because they can doesn't mean people are constantly talking about global brands online.

    Unilever still has global brands which are marketed under different names but communicated in exactly the same fashion worldwide (I.e. Lynx/Axe, Sure/Rexona). There has been migration to consistency, take Lipton and Walls as 2 examples happened/happening currently.

    However, much care needs to be taken in considering and then doing global brand migration. Continental (in Australia) remains a very strong national brand, but is Knorr in Europe and increasingly across Asia. Bushell's tea is another local Australian example that after years of consideration decided not to migrate to the global Lipton brand as simply too strong and embedded.

    Doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't, just need to be very careful that the migration will be more valuable than the local to consumers, shoppers and customers. I don't believe that social media is the key nor only driver, but it is important.