Guess what? Global marketing is no longer reserved for brands with deep pockets, nor is it a huge hassle for marketing managers who handle all marketing efforts.
In fact, a global presence is possible for any business with a creative strategy and an understanding of world markets. Let’s go over what a good global marketing strategy looks like and the best examples worldwide.
What Is Good Global Marketing?
Global marketing is the act of focusing a product on the needs of potential buyers in other countries.
Like most types of marketing, though, a global marketing strategy comes down to one thing: audience. Knowing who needs your product, what form they need it in, and how to market it in a way that strengthens the brand are core ingredients of awesome global marketing.
Typically, a global marketing strategy requires a business to do new market research, identify countries where the business's product might be successful, and then localize the brand to reflect the needs of those communities. However, localization is not always necessary. Some brands adopt a global standardization strategy instead.
Global Standardization Strategy
A global standardization strategy refers to the ability to use standardized marketing messaging and campaigns across markets, countries, and cultures. The world’s biggest brands, such as Adidas and Coca-Cola, use a global standardization strategy to create a consistent brand experience across regions and languages.
No matter where you visit those brands, the experience and imagery is virtually the same.
In contrast to localization, where there's a more differentiated marketing approach to each market, global standardization provides significant cost benefits as a result of less messaging and fewer campaigns.
However, the key is in knowing when a global standardization strategy will be effective. Because it banks on a universal appeal despite cultural or locational differences, you'll need to research whether customers use or think about your products differently depending on their market. If there's no difference between the usage and understanding from country to country, a global standardization approach is practical.
Choosing localization or global standardization is one aspect of creating a great global marketing strategy.
To give you an idea of what a great global marketing strategy looks like, we've compiled a list of brands that totally "get it."
From adapting their social strategies to translate across multiple languages to adjusting their menus to appeal to the cravings of a diverse group of people, these brands are taking positive steps toward creating a solid presence across the globe.
So, if you're looking for inspiration on how to craft a successful international marketing strategy and expand your business' reach, check out these examples from the world’s most successful companies.
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Global Marketing Strategies
- Red Bull
- Dunkin Donuts
- World Wildlife Foundation
- Pearse Trust
- Innocent Drinks
- Traffic Ticket Clinic
1. Red Bull
Austrian company Red Bull does such a great job with global marketing that many Americans assume it’s a local brand. How?
One of its most successful tactics is to host extreme sports events all over the world. From the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix to the Red Bull Air Race in the United Kingdom to the Red Bull Soapbox Race in Jordan, the brand's powerful event marketing strategy takes them here, there, and everywhere.
Aside from events, Red Bull's packaging also plays a part in its global appeal.
"Red Bull really looks like a product from a global economy. It doesn't look like a traditional American soft drink — it's not in a 12-ounce can, it's not sold in a bottle, and it doesn't have script lettering like Pepsi or Coke. It looks European. That matters," explains Harvard Business School professor Nancy F. Koehn. Though it's since diversified its product selection since that article was published, the fact remains that Red Bull's consistent packaging has helped this brand go global.
How to Imitate Red Bull’s Strategy
For smaller brands, reaching Red Bull’s level of international awareness might seem out of reach, but you can imitate the brand’s strategy by offering one notable product — the product you’ll most be known for. Then, be sure to keep the packaging the same no matter where you distribute it.
You can also host virtual events across different time zones and regions, which the pandemic has made more possible and trendier than ever.
Airbnb, a community marketplace for people to list and book accommodations around the world, was founded in 2008 out of San Francisco, California.
Since then, Airbnb has grown to 1,500,000+ listings in 34,000+ cities worldwide. A large contributor to the company's explosive global success? Its video campaign titled “Made Possible by Hosts.”
Airbnb launched the campaign to bring its worldwide community of hosts and guests closer in the wake of COVID-19. The company referred to the campaign as a way to highlight "the magical experiences that hosts bring to guests." To create the campaign, Airbnb took real videos and photographs from guests and put them in a video to create the “sense of nostalgia” we feel when we travel.
Over 3 million people worldwide have engaged, created content, or talked about the campaign. Just one of its videos has over 3.5 million views.
How to Imitate Airbnb’s Strategy
Airbnb is inherently an international brand because its guests and hosts hail from a wide variety of locations worldwide. Even if you identify as a more local brand, there are ways to globalize your efforts.
First, bring the focus to different customers in different regions when you create a testimonial or case study. You can also ask your international customers to contribute a photo or video of your product in use, and feature that in your social media content.
National Donut Day happens every year in June. While we get our hands dirty with a Boston creme (or two) here in the States, Dunkin Donuts China serves up a fresh batch of dry pork and seaweed donuts.
With over 3,200 stores in 36 countries outside of the U.S., Dunkin Donuts has evolved its menu to satisfy the sweet tooth of its global customers.
From Korea's Grapefruit Coolata to Lebanon's Mango Chocolate Donut to Russia's Dunclairs, it's clear that Dunkin Donuts isn't afraid to celebrate cultural differences in an effort to strengthen its international presence.
How to Imitate Dunkin Donut’s Strategy
If you run a restaurant business, Dunkin Donut’s strategy should draw plenty of inspiration. To globalize your restaurant brand, try to serve regional or cultural menu items during special holidays for those cultures and regions.
You don’t necessarily have to expand to international regions first, but if it’s financially viable, opening new locations or launching regional websites can help you become a global brand.
Similar to Dunkin Donuts, Domino's has prioritized menu innovation as a means of increasing international interest and awareness.
“The joy of pizza is that bread, sauce, and cheese works fundamentally everywhere, except maybe China, where dairy wasn’t a big part of their diet until lately,” explains Domino’s CEO J. Patrick Doyle.
“And it’s easy to just change toppings market to market. In Asia, it’s seafood and fish. It’s curry in India. But half the toppings are standard offerings around the world.”
By making a conscious effort to gain a better understanding of the preferences of the markets it's trying to break into, Domino's can deliver pies diverse enough to gain international attention.
How to Imitate Domino’s Strategy
Domino’s strategy is another you’ll want to use as inspiration if you run a restaurant business. Try to invite chefs from different cultures and regions, then have them cook your menu items in their regional style and with regional ingredients.
Highlight the chefs in your social media profiles. By doing so, you’ll show your followers in those regions that they’re also top-of-mind, expanding your global reach.
Some companies may not be trying to attract global markets directly, but if their clients are, they better know how. Rezdy is an Australian-based reservation software designed to make online booking smoother for tourists and agents alike.
Though Rezdy's clients are Australian-based, the company needs to cater to its clients' international visitors. On its homepage, it says it works for operators and agents in over 100 countries.
The service is designed to be used globally, with hundreds of personalization options for the tool’s timezone, language, and currency. Rezdy’s website and marketing collateral is English, so it caters to English-speaking tour operators, particularly in Australia, the UK, and North America. But it knows its customers’ target audience are in other countries abroad. It thus emphasizes its tool’s internationalization capabilities.
How to Imitate Rezdy’s Strategy
Rezdy effectively globalizes its services by taking into account that its customers’ target audience will be in other countries. Even if your company is marketing to other regional companies, consider their global customers as if they were your own. If your product, tool, or software can be used abroad in a wide variety of applications, be sure to add that to your marketing collateral — even if you operate regionally.
World Wildlife Fund takes the literal approach to global marketing by having hundreds of offices worldwide, each with highly localized goals for each region. It goes global every year with its Earth Hour initiative — a voluntary worldwide event where participants turn off their lights for an hour to show how easy it can be to battle climate change.
It specially promoted its Earth Hour event in Norway. Scandinavian countries like Norway experience extreme daylight hours in different seasons, making the country a prime candidate for WWF's Earth Hour campaign. Using digital agency Mobiento, the nonprofit placed the Earth Hour Banner across Norway's top media sites to promote the event. With one tap of the banner, the screen went black. Finger swiping the black screen slowly revealed the Earth Hour countdown. The banner attracted roughly 1,000,000 impressions and the campaign received three MMA Global Mobile Marketing Awards.
How to Imitate WWF’s Strategy
WWF has hundreds of offices that make it easier for the non-profit to go global, but thanks to the internet, its easier than ever to connect with international audiences, especially for a certain initiative you might want to launch, like Earth Hour.
If you have a cool idea, don't be afraid to try it out on one international market — just make sure it's the appropriate audience. (Also, don't be afraid of the dark.)
7. Pearse Trust
With offices in Dublin, London, Vancouver, Atlanta, and Wellington, Pearse Trust has grown to be an international authority on corporate and trust structures. But it takes more than offices all over the map to reach an international audience.
That's why Pearse Trust keeps content flowing on its blog that engages its various markets. In the screenshot above, you can see Pearse Trust posts a lot of content featuring international affairs relating to the company's practice.
It also levels out external articles with Pearse Trust content, featuring news from places like Germany, Ireland (where it has a Dublin office), and the U.K. (where it has a London office).
How to Imitate Pearse Trust’s Strategy
This is a great example of focusing on common interests shared among your company's various markets while also making the content relatable to customers by region. Globalizing your marketing can be as simple as creating content that caters to different target audiences in different target regions.
Nike has been able to evolve its global presence through the careful selection of international sponsorships, such as its previous long-standing relationship with Manchester United.
Although sponsorship spending can be fairly unpredictable — demand costs tend to surge due to triggers like championships and tournaments — these partnerships have certainly helped the brand capture the attention of a global audience.
Nike's “Nike by You” co-creation platform serves as another strategy that the company is using to appeal to international markets. By putting the power of design into the hands of the consumer, Nike is able to deliver customized products that align with different cultural preferences and styles.
How to Imitate Nike’s Strategy
Partner with other brands, influencers, and ambassadors in your international target markets. Choose them carefully. For instance, Manchester United is a prominent cultural force in the UK, and that certainly helped Nike grow in that country.
If you sell a consumer product, why not give the option for your audience to customize — and resell — the products as well? You’ll end up capturing a much larger audience, and consumers from different regions will much better capture their region’s preferences and tastes.
We all know McDonald's is a successful global brand. While keeping its overarching branding consistent, McDonald's practices "glocal" marketing efforts. No, that's not a typo. McDonald's brings a local flavor to different countries with region-specific menu items. For instance, McDonald's offers the McArabia, a flatbread sandwich, in its restaurants in the Middle East.
McDonald's has also introduced macaroons to its French menu:
And added McSpaghetti to its menu in the Philippines:
No matter what, there’s something to learn from the giant.
How to Imitate McDonald’s Strategy
Like the other restaurant examples on this list, opening restaurants in other regions may be the first and most natural answer. But if that’s not feasible, especially if you run a regional brand, celebrate the flavors of the world by hosting an “International Day” and posting about it on your website and online. This will get you on the radar of those who may enjoy those foods daily and help you spread the word in other markets.
10. Innocent Drinks
Innocent Drinks is the leading smoothie company in the U.K., but that's not the only place you'll find its products. In fact, Innocent products are now available in 15 countries across Europe.
And despite its widespread reach, the company's friendly branding remains consistent across the board. For instance, the website is very bubbly, with contact information that prompts to the viewer to "call on the banana phone" or "pop by Fruit Towers," the name for its corporate office.
While global expansion and rapid growth can sometimes distract a company from consistent branding, Innocent Drinks has managed to remain true to itself. By ensuring that the brand's voice is interpreted the same way around the world, Innocent is able to create a more recognizable brand.
How to Imitate Innocent Drink’s Strategy
Stay true to your brand voice even as you expand to other markets. Innocent Drinks is immediately likeable because of its tone on its website and social media. Friendliness makes you feel more approachable — and thus more accessible to a global audience. Plus, if your brand is consistent across the board, audiences across regions won’t feel like they’re getting cheated out of everything your brand can offer.
The phrase "glocal" can be defined as "Think Globally, Act Locally." But what happens when you switch the two around?
Traffic Ticket Clinic is a traffic ticket law firm that defends drivers in the state of Florida. Not very global, right? Well, Traffic Ticket Clinic understands that America is a melting pot and that Florida is bursting at the seams with different cultures and languages.
Though a domestic service, the firm's website is available in English and Spanish. With those options, Traffic Ticket Clinic can cater to Florida's nearly 3.5 million Floridians who speak Spanish. Don't miss out on expanding your client base — sometimes you don't have to look far to attract international business.
How to Imitate Traffic Ticket Clinic’s Strategy
One of the easiest ways you can begin global marketing is by offering your website in different languages. If you own a WordPress website, you can do that by using a translation plugin. But remember: Look at your target market first to figure out the best languages you should offer on your site. For instance, don’t offer Swahili if you don’t serve East Africa.
Coca-Cola is a great example of a brand that’s well-known for its international marketing efforts. Though a large corporation, Coca-Cola focuses on small community programs and invests a lot of time and money in small-scale charity efforts.
For example, in Egypt, Coca-Cola has built 650 clean water installations in the rural village of Beni Suef and sponsors Ramadan meals for children across the Middle East. In India, the brand sponsors the Support My School initiative to improve facilities at local schools. Not to mention, the brand sticks with selling an emotion that can't get lost in translation: happiness.
How to Imitate Coca-Cola’s Strategy
In your marketing efforts, try to promote your values by investing in communities worldwide. You can start small, such as with a yearly sponsorship or recurring donation, and then work your way up to launching a charity effort on the ground.
Try to appeal to a universal human feeling as well. If you’re a marketer at a hospital, you might appeal to grief and hope in a 1-minute video about a hospital visit. These are feelings that trascend countries and languages, automatically helping you reach a global audience.
Spotify is considered one of the best global companies in the world, according to Interbrand. We've all heard of Spotify (no pun intended), but how did it suddenly, and so quickly, expand from Sweden into other countries?
Spotify's business model is focused on helping you find something new.
It's one thing to select a genre of music to listen to — it's another thing to select a "mood" to listen to. In Spotify's "Browse" page, you can listen not just to "country" and "hip-hop," but also music that caters to your "workout" or "sleep" preferences.
By changing how they describe their content, Spotify gets users to listen to music that goes beyond their favorite genres, and instead satisfies habits and lifestyles that people share all over the world. This allows international artists to access listeners from other countries simply because their product is being categorized a different way.
Spotify now has offices in more than fifteen countries around the world.
How to Imitate Spotify’s Strategy
Spotify’s example is a winner because its global marketing strategy is entirely product-based. It offers music, podcasts, and media in so many languages, the audiences in those countries couldn’t help but start using the product. If your product lends itself to that, try featuring items or products that will appeal to the people of different regions and countries.
Start Global Marketing in Small Steps
If you have global aspirations for your business, you need to find out what customers in different communities have in common — and how to localize your product for these different markets. Your first step? Take inspiration from one of the businesses above. Start small, then work your way up as your business grows.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.