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The Globalization of Marketing

For a long time, being locally relevant was not considered to be necessary for brands except for language and monetary currencies. Ever since Ted Levitt wrote his seminal article, “The Globalization of Marketing,” in 1983 for the Harvard Business Review,4 global marketing has been dominated by the standardization of products, services, brands, and standardized communications worldwide. Professor Levitt made a strong case for the increased efficiency of brand globalization. He believed ubiquitous, uniform global brand marketing would be more profitable.

Clearly, thinking has changed. Today, in our highly connected, over-informed, technology-driven world, people have a love-hate relationship with globalization. They appreciate the comfort and reliability of recognized, iconic brands anywhere they go on the planet. Yet they bemoan the homogenization of products and services and yearn for the authentic, locally occurring experiences now sacrificed at the altar of sameness. Although customers want the safety, security, and predictability of global brands, they also feel that global brands are powerful behemoths that simply do not understand who they are as individuals. They see global organizations as threats to local economies, cultures, communities, and the environment.

From a business perspective, as pointed out recently in the press, older globalization business models based on size and clout are fading fast in the face of nimbleness and agility. These existing operations are susceptible to the revolutionary technology and optimism of a new digital globalization.5

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