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Managing Global Brands/The Excess Of Globalisation

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The excess of globalisation

Arguments against globalisation are, in fact, arguments against a strict and rigid monolithic international marketing policy. In fact, there are plenty of examples of failure resulting from undue haste in adopting a global marketing policy without certain precautions. These examples have been analysed by corporations. They have learnt their lessons.

Globalisation has become associated with deafness or blindness. Naomi Klein (1999) has called the attention of global brands to the fact that some of them have become businesses without any production facilities. They outsource all their production. However, the absence of plants does not mean the brand can feel unconcerned by what takes place in the plants of its suppliers: working children, sweatshops and poor conditions of work all impact on the brand image. Today, big means responsible: ethics will be part of the evaluation by the financial markets.

Arguments against globalisation are in fact arguments against a strict and rigid monolithic international marketing policy. There are plenty of examples of failure resulting from undue haste in adopting a global marketing policy without certain precautions. Thus, in January 1984 Procter & Gamble launched in France the anti-dandruff shampoo Head and Shoulders relying on exactly the same marketing mix and positioning which had led to its success in the UK and the Netherlands.

At the end of 1989, Head and Shoulders still had only 1 per cent of the French market. The problem was that they had not taken sufficient account of a feature particular to the French market and present nowhere else. Consumers either buy antidandruff shampoos in pharmacies, the pharmacy being a guarantee for efficiency and treatment, or they pick up the line extension of their usual brand in their hypermarket (Palmolive dandruff shampoo, etc) for everyday use. In between these two brand groups, there is scarcely room for a brand positioned on efficiency, sold in hypermarkets and much more expensive than usual brands. The adopted communication mix in no way bettered the situation of this shampoo:

Procter & Gamble had decided not to translate the name, relying on the evidence that it had been well accepted in Holland as it stood. However, outside the UK, Holland is the EU country that speaks the best English, so there is a considerable inherent risk in extending a policy tested in Holland to a country such as France.For its launch, Procter & Gamble used their British film showing a face divided in two so that the results could be seen. The punchline was ‘Dandruff talks behind your back’. In France, however, dandruff is seen as a social problem – one should not point the finger in blame, but should sympathise with the problem. The tone adopted in the British approach was perhaps in keeping with Dutch levels of sensitivity, but scarcely applicable to the French.

Head and Shoulders illustrates the harsh realities of different levels of sensitivity and competitive forces in the marketplace, both of which make a monolithic global policy a perilous strategy.

Such reverses do not, as such, amount to a rebuttal of global policy, since we have such universal successes as Dell, Sony, McDonald’s and Volkswagen. The idea of global marketing has an inescapable draw, even though its implementation has been seen to vary considerably in speed according to the markets, the public and the companies themselves, and in spite of the fact that certain idiosyncratic brands are destined to remain on a local footing.

 

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