While technology continues to advance non-stop like a runaway train, our seemingly unlimited access to information increases every day.
And it’s no secret that today’s technological advances have dramatically changed the world’s buying habits. The brick and mortar retail staples that we grew up with like K-Mart and Circuit City have closed their doors. They simply couldn’t keep up with the ever-expanding e-commerce outlets that continue to pop up all over the Web.
Companies like Amazon and eBay allow you to buy nearly anything you want in a matter of seconds, without even leaving your couch. While there’s still something to be said for buying items in actual stores, many people, including myself, choose to purchase them online.
E-Commerce is King
In turn, as technology makes our world smaller and smaller each day, there is a recurring misconception held by many people in the United States – the thought that nearly everyone now either speaks or understands English. While this theory would certainly make global marketing communication easier, it’s simply not true.
In the digital age, marketers need to create an international strategy in order to be successful. Consider the following:
- Only 27 percent of online shoppers speak English
- 75 percent of shoppers prefer to shop in their native language
- 60 percent of shoppers rarely or never buy from English-only websites
- 54 percent of shoppers buy products online weekly or monthly
- 66 percent of shoppers chose to shop across borders when making online purchases
- The U.S. (ranked eighth globally) trails behind China and South Korea in online retail sales vs. total retail sales
So what does this mean for U.S. marketers of global brands? One-size-fits-all/U.S.-centric marketing no longer works.
The instant accessibility of e-commerce channels drives this point home even further – if your brand marketing strategy isn’t specifically tailored to the global shopper, then today’s savvy consumer will find one that is.
Be Relevant, Be Personal, or Be Forgotten
The consumer is now in control; they buy on their terms. In short, global companies need to be relevant, be personal or be forgotten. Furthermore, with over 12 million e-commerce sites on the Internet, competition is fierce, and only those brands that are truly able to reach a global audience will survive.
What is relevant global marketing, you might ask? I’ve come up with a phrase that I feel captures my point: Globally-local marketing. By this I’m referring to marketing that delivers a unified brand voice to global audiences, yet at the same time is customized for consumers in different target markets.
Amazon is a great example of a global brand that personalizes content to effectively reach its international audience. No matter where in the world you visit their website, you will instantly recognize the Amazon brand. Further, in their key worldwide markets (Germany, Japan, China, Spain and India), the site is offered in each region’s local language and there are variations of available products based on a consumer’s location.
Simply put, we live in the “it’s all about me” generation. So if your website’s content is not all about your customers’ personalized shopping experience, someone else’s will be. And your clients will buy elsewhere.