We have heard a lot about globalism versus localism over the years. In order to succeed globally, even the biggest multinationals must think locally. A few examples:


In the UK, McDonald’s strategy is to listen more to local consumers and then act on it. The company strives to do this around the world. Some if its local favorites around the world include the McItaly burger in Italy, Maharaja Mac in India, the McLobster in Canada, the Ebi Filit-O in Japan.

McDonald’s has novelty items on its menu in Japan like the Teriyaki McBurger with Seaweed Shaker fries, Ebi Filet-O, Croquette Burger and Bacon Potato Pie. McDonald’s signed model Yuri Ebihara (known as Ebi-chan in Japan) to market Ebi Filet-O. Ebi means shrimp in Japanese.


Starbucks is trying out locally designed franchises in stores. The stores are non-Starbucks branded in order to recapture the feel of a local coffee shop, which would otherwise be threatened by the existence of Starbucks in its vicinity.


To increase visits from local residents, KFC has initiated a five-year plan to upgrade its UK restaurants with new contemporary designs. Designs will be based on ‘look and feel’ of the area and in collaboration with local property developers.

KFC has a vegetarian thali (a mixed meal with rice and cooked vegetables) and Chana Snacker (burger with chickpeas) to cater to vegetarians in India.


When Tesco expanded globally in countries such as Thailand, Hungary and the Czech Republic it kept it’s usual name and branding. However, when it entered the United States, it named it’s stores "Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market".


Nokia responded to local customer needs with the introduction of dust-resistant keypad, antislip grip and an inbuilt flash light for Indian rural consumers (specifically targeting truck drivers).

Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL)

HLL identified the importance of rural customers and invented the shampoo sachets priced at almost a rupee which were an instant hit.


In 1904, Ford was one of the first automotive corporations to go International with the opening of Ford Motor Co. of Canada. Even Henry Ford II had opined that in order to further the growth of its worldwide operations, any purchasing activity should be done after considering the selection of sources of supply not only in its own company but also sources located in other countries. When Ford had set up its first plant outside U.S., in Canada, it gained considerably from the geographic and cultural proximity.

Viacom’s MTV localized strategy with localized programming

MTV has catered to local taste in East Asia in South Korea, China, India and Japan. E.g. MTV broadcasts on two channels with Chinese music in China and Hindi pop in India. Using joint ventures with local partners, channels are branded accordingly as MTV India, MTV Korea, MTV China and MTV Japan and use more local employees with use of local language.

Whirlpool Corporation

Whirlpool Example 1: Domestic appliance maker, Whirlpool incorporated specially designed agitators into its washing machines when it sold them in India. This helped Indian women wash saris without the five-foot long sari getting tangled. Whirlpool formed a joined venture with a local partner to produce the redesigned washing machine to suit local taste and culture. Whirlpool also makes its refrigerators in bright colors like red and blue as many Asian consumers placed their refrigerator in living rooms as a sign of status. Whirlpool believes in standardizing worldwide what it can and adapting what it cannot.

Whirlpool Example 2: As part of Whirlpool’s global strategy, the company wanted to develop products based on consumers tastes and needs. Whirlpool had done extensive research and found that European customers wanted a microwave oven that could brown and crisp food. Whirlpool then designed and introduced the VIP Crispwave which could fry crispy bacon and cook a pizza with a crisp crust. The product was successful in Europe and later launched in U.S. as well.

KFC – Yum! Restaurants

Global chain, KFC has introduced ‘Krushers’ in the cold beverages segment in India. The range of flavors of Krushers has been altered to suit the Indian taste buds.


The Subway chain does not have beef in its stores in India.

Taco Bell

The Taco Bell menu in India has crunchy potato tacos and extra-spicy burritos filled with paneer (cottage cheese). Taco Bell has hired employees who explain what burritos and quesadillas are to customers in India.

Coca Cola

In 1955, a Coca -Cola advertisement or documentary (almost 20 mins long) referred to as the “Pearl of the Orient” shows Coca-Cola’s popularity in Philippines and how Coke has merged itself into the Philippines economy and culture.


In 2010, Heinz plans to launch packaged food products in India which will suit the Indian taste. Heinz, which entered India in 1994, plans to Indianise the flavors offering condiments, juices and snacks to the Indian consumers.

DisneyLand Glocalization in Hong Kong

In 2005, Disneyland was not that successful in Hong Kong with park attendance and growth revenues. Disneyland then made an effort to cater to the local Chinese taste by reducing prices, adapting to local Chinese customs and labor practices and also changed the decors and settings. Glocalization was successfully applied to the theme park in Hong Kong.

Dell’s Advertising in Japan and Asia Pacific regions

Dell did not use its American Steven Jackson (referred to as the Dell Dude) commercials in Japan and other East Asian countries after its Global Brand Management team used localized focus groups to gauge the TV character’s cultural acceptance. The attitude of the American character did not gel well with Japanese social etiquette e.g Know-all display and speaking to strangers without introduction.

Unilever – Marginal Local Adaptation instead of Total Local Adaptation

Unilever took glocalization (local adaptation) to a new level in the 1990s. Instead of adapting products unnecessarily, it adapted products to the local market marginally i.e. the basic product would be fine-tuned instead of expensive total adaptation. E.g. Unilever identified the need for a regional ice cream and was very successful with its Wall’s ice cream adapting it specifically to the Asian taste (different from the rest of the world). In 2000, it had a market share of 41% to Nestle’s 15%.

Another Unilever ice cream brand Asian Delight was very successful in Asia. Unilever’s Bangkok innovation center redesigned the product and adapted it to local taste (coconut ice cream mixed with fruits and vegetables used traditionally in sweets in the region) and packaging (Thai and English on packaging in Thailand).

Italian Luxury Fashion Retail Brands

Luxury retail brands like Bottega Veneta, a unit of PPR, and Canali, an Italian men’s fashion brand launched limited-edition of clutch (Knot India) and closed neck jacket (bandhgala worn by Indian men) specifically for the Indian market.

Nokia’s multi-SIM devices in the Indian market

Nokia launched multi-SIM devices (C1 & C2 series) in India, after it realized its potential. Nokia’s dual-sim phones were introduced late in the market after competitors LG and Samsung also introduced similar mobile phones. Nokia lost out on early market share (to competitors who introduced multi-sim devices early in the market) but planned to introduce it in other emerging markets as well.

Lenovo’s LES Lite stores in the Indian market

Lenovo India has customized LES Lite stores to expand into India’s key tier 3-5 cities/towns. These Lite stores are smaller versions (around 150-250 square feet in size) of Lenovo’s exclusive stores and with lower costs & break-even points.

Gillette’s low cost razor for the Indian market

Gillette introduced the low cost razor ‘Gillette Guard’ priced at about 15 rupees (~$0.33) in the Indian market. Features included easy rinsing (as water is scarce in Indian rural areas) and unique grip design (the way the consumer held the razor).

Piaggio’s Scooter ‘Vespa’ adapted for the Indian market

In 2012, Piaggio & C. S.p.A., the iconic Italian two-wheeler re-entered the Indian market. It adapted its scooter the Vespa to suit the Indian riders and road conditions. E.g. the rear wheel structure was redesigned to facilitate easier tyre changes, the scooter is more efficient than it is in Europe (62km per litre compared to 35 in Europe), increased ground clearance, slimmer design and a lower footboard to give more legroom to Indian women who ride sitting side-saddle in the back seat.

Starbucks India

Starbucks’ first shop in India (opening in October 2012) will have no beef or pork considered taboo by many Indians. The Indian menu has local favorite Chai Tea Latte and the coffee is sourced and roasted locally. Other food items (many meat free options) include baked goods like Konkani Twist or Chatpata Paratha Wrap to adapt its offerings to local vegetarian tastes. There are even separate ovens and counters for vegetarian and non-vegetarian offerings.