Most food and beverage companies looking to enter foreign markets are faced with a common question: to localize, or not to localize? Consumers worldwide are attracted to the idea of “Made in USA” and eager to try a product composed of flavors so very different from their own. In order to flourish in foreign markets and avoid becoming a one-hit wonder, these companies are pushed to recognize the importance of tailoring their products to particular markets. Coca-Cola and Starbucks are successful examples of two globally recognized F&B brands that won big worldwide through localization.
At over a century old, Coca-Cola remains one of the world’s most recognized brands, selling over 3,500 products in 200 countries. They owe their success to strong localization strategies, adapting their product to accommodate local preferences while keeping their brand consistent. Over the years, the brand has mastered simplicity, consistently communicating one message: pleasure. Their enduring slogans “Happiness” and “Enjoy” are not perceived as repetitive or too simple, but rather as a message that is shared universally and translates easily. Coca-Cola also offers a personalized experience to consumers worldwide. The most recent “Share a Coke” campaign, for example, originated in Australia but has now expanded to over 50 countries. Although the offerings are customized to adapt to the local culture, the campaign offers social media as a platform to unite consumers around the globe, prompting them to share their experience through the use of a common means of communication.
Starbucks, a leader in the coffee industry, continues to exert its dominance worldwide by going above and beyond with localization strategies. Part of the success of this global brand is due to its stores, all of which offer an inviting, customized atmosphere when compared with other coffee chains. In 2008, through conscious efforts to meet customer demand, Starbucks polled clientele on their opinion of the coffee shop. Perceived as too ubiquitous by its customers, the company introduced a change in design, incorporating communities’ stories and cultural observations into the stores. This improves the shops’ personal charm and provides customers with a greater sense of community. Additionally, the coffee chain has made strategic deployments based on consumption trends of the target market. It has launched country-specific blends, and incorporates local flavors and ingredients into beverages to further cater to regional tastes.
Although there is no perfect formula for global success, these two corporations prove that innovative localization strategies are essential when it comes to adapting a business model to foreign markets while at the same time keeping the company’s core values. Making human connections, breaking new ground and constantly providing unique brand experiences are all techniques that have contributed to the worldwide success of Starbucks and Coca-Cola, allowing them to maintain their positions as industry leaders, perhaps even decades and centuries later.