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Mobile technology and the balancing act of global and local marketing

The expansion of the digital world through mobile technology has leveled today’s marketing and advertising playing field, providing tools and techniques to reach a worldwide audience. But is going global the best way to make the most of your multi-channel marketing, or do you run the risk of your products and campaigns getting lost in translation across cultures? To truly maximize your effectiveness, you must find an appropriate balance between global scale and local differentiation.

Marketing in a digital, mobile world

In what was once a highly segmented, geographically limited market, advances in technology and the lower cost of mobile devices have introduced a new set of rules for marketers and advertisers alike. Developing and emerging markets are leaping headlong into the digital world, which now embraces millions of consumers who were left behind in a desktop-centric environment.  But while global consumers share many powerful commonalities, marketers who want to leverage the worldwide scale of a global audience run the risk of missing the boat by not integrating local differences and nuances into their campaigns.

Mass media channels like Facebook and Google, for example, can be used to target or research consumers on a global scale, but there are many other popular platforms and apps whose appeal is profoundly local.  One of the 10 most popular apps in Indonesia, for example, is Gojek, which allows users to book a ride on the back of someone else’s motorcycle.  Completely indigenous to that country, this ride-sharing app was recently valued at $1.3 billion. Local opportunities such as this must be considered when experimenting with advertising effectiveness.

Getting the global-local balance right

Another key to finding this macro/micro balance is being mindful of global market segments that may have distinctly local flavors. In one region, members of a certain segment may have a preference for particular types of mobile apps or ways of communicating, while in another area they use their mobile phones or smartphones very differently.

It’s important for global marketers and advertisers to affirm the best that each approach has to offer – to be wise about the time spent tailoring to local markets, while also not leaning too heavily on global sameness. Experimentation may take time, but regularly fine tuning your approach between global scale and local customization will lead to effectiveness improvements that can pay huge dividends.

This blog post has been adapted from an article in AMA Marketing News.

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