Global Marketing

How To Set Up International Social Media in 4 Steps

1. Choosing Social Media Platforms

The popular social media sites in your country may not have the same market share in other countries. As of January 2020, the most popular social media platform around the world was Facebook, with 2.5 billion users. However, if you plan to enter China, QZone is an important platform to pursue.

Last year's map also shows the runner up platforms in each country. Instagram is ranked second in 44/58 analyzed countries , and Twitter and Reddit also make appearances. This is important to know if one plans to select more than one platform.

2. Selecting Content

Internationally, people use social media for different purposes. It's important to know what people use the platforms for to make sure content is well-received. Globally, engagement on any platform is highest on photos and <30 second videos.

  • Asia Pacific countries go to social media for consumer reviews and also share brand-related information. Research from GlobalWebIndex shows that social media informs purchase decisions, especially with younger users. This is one reason the Philippines consumes so much media: the high amount of user-generated content produced.
  • Europe uses social media to get news. 40% of adults in Spain and Sweden get their news from social media, primarily from Facebook. 75% of all “news-seekers” on social media live in France, Italy and Denmark.

It is also helpful to know what how much time each country spends on social media platform. The graph below shows time spent on social media per country as of January 2018. The Philippines, Brazil and Indonesia hold the top three spots.

3. Localizing Content

  • Is it relevant or culturally specific? If your product launch is solely for one country, then curated content should not appear on sites in any other countries. If you plan to share articles using colloquialisms or celebrities, try adjusting the content to fit the country you plan to post in. Also take into account different currencies, measurement systems, and local spellings. These considerations will make your content more relevant.
  • Any cultural factors? Take into consideration laws and regulations in other countries. In China, there is a list of banned keywords and the Chinese government will block any content that violates the list.
  • Are there any current events to keep in mind? Being mindful of the current pandemic, organizations may want to market specially discounted prices on goods and services.

4. Interacting with Customers

The most important part of any social media plan is interacting with consumers. If you can engage followers, you have the opportunity to turn your brand into a living entity.

Creating content is a time-consuming process between sharing posts, and monitoring all the reactions and comments on each platform. Fortunately there are many social media tools to help do this all while boosting engagement. These tools are critical for a brand to stay on top of the rapidly evolving landscape and potentially high volume of consumers to monitor. Reviews of Hootsuite and other top tools can be found here.

Global Marketing

International Market Communications & Global Advertising

What is International Market Communications? 

International market communications includes all methods companies can use to provide information to and communicate with existing and potential customers. This can be greatly influenced by many factors such as cross-county cultural differences (language, economic, socio-cultural, legal and regulatory). Some examples of different forms of international marketing communications are advertising, sales promotions, direct marketing and public relations. Depending on the type of industry, the medium of communication may vary in importance. For example, in the consumer goods industry advertising may be extremely prevalent. However, in business-to-business marketing, public relations and relationship building is much more crucial.

The Rise of Global Advertising 

Due to both the rise of technology and globalization, global advertising as a form of international market communications has become extremely prevalent into today’s marketing universe. However, while some companies implement adaptive advertising strategies that are geared towards each culture, others opt for a more standardized approach that is more cost efficient. Advertising can either be used to reach a mass audience or a precisely defined market segment. While it can be very cost efficient when used to reach a mass audience, traditional mass audiences are fragmenting due to increasing media options and various forms of channels to reach the target consumer. Digital communication (Internet, mobile) is the fastest growing form of advertising, while traditional media (newspapers, radio, magazines) are struggling for relevance. Advertising is utilized to build awareness, inform, persuade, and remind! The number one challenge globally –  How can your brand stand out from the crowd? A Yankelovitch study shows 65% of people feel “constantly bombarded” by ad messages, with 59% feel ads have little relevance. Various global advertising channels include TV, radio broadcasts, newspapers, magazines, Internet, many physical facilities, transit vehicles — all cluttered with ads.

Barbie & the Standardized Advertising Approach

Mattel Inc. is a great example of a firm following a global advertising approach. Mattel is the world’s largest toy company and the firm’s best selling brands include Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and American Girl. Mattel utilizes a standardized marketing strategy, even selling the same original Barbie in 59 countries. Barbie uses advertising forms other than the normal traditional advertising methods, relying on its movies and partnerships with corporations like Facebook and Volkswagen to stimulate large doll sales. One example is one of Matel’s highest selling Barbie worldwide is the Rapunzel doll. 

Essentially, if demand is the same in every single market, and technology and communication is homogeneous, companies should go for a standardized international marketing approach. Especially with travel and globalization, commonalities get spread and can make for a global environment that could be suited for a standardized international market communication approach. It is crucial to react to your audience, industry and demand in all international marketing channels. For example, due to the brand’s shun for its unrealistic portrayal of women at a time when society in many countries was moving towards gender equality and inclusivity, Mattel overhauled Barbie with a diverse product lineup that includes dolls of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities to better portray a variety of cultures, all sold worldwide. 

New Barbie advertising promoted a message of the power of play and portrayed the new Barbie as someone kids aspire to be. Barbie's most successful recent advertising campaign include the “Dream Gap” which prevents girls from realizing their full potential as adults because of societal constraints. This change towards both ethnicity representation and new advertising strategy made an impact not only globally, but in Barbie’s homeland. 

Global Marketing

International Marketing Regulations

When marketing to different areas of the world, it is important to do so ethically. Like other areas, international marketing has its own set of regulations. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the largest business organization in the world and is in charge of rule setting, dispute resolution, and policy advocacy. Their mission is to enable businesses worldwide to secure peace, prosperity, and opportunity for all. When it comes to regulation, the ICC has three policies.

Digital Marketing Communications

The ICC recognizes that with the rise of smart devices, digital advertising has been exponentially increasing. In particular, the use of Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) has been increasing. OBA refers to the collection of multiple data points across several websites that are used to predict preferences and target specialized ads for the user. The use of OBA comes with a concern for privacy and data protection. The ICC provides a set of guidelines to follow which encourages businesses to be ethical when it comes to OBA.

  • Clear and conspicuous notice regarding if and how OBA data collection is used. Notice should include the type of data collected and the purpose for collecting it;
  • Having an easy-to-use mechanism to let consumers decide about the collection and use of their data for OBA purposes;
  • Obtaining explicit consumer consent for OBA in all cases of collecting and using data via technologies or practices intended to harvest that data from all or almost all websites visited by a particular computer or device across multiple web domains;
  • Obtaining explicit consumer consent for creation and use of OBA segments relying on sensitive data;

The majority of rules revolve around transparency. Have you ever scrolled through dozens of pages of Terms and Agreements and not read a single word? Companies make it confusing to know what data is being collected and their intentions on using it. The ICC calls for this practice to stop, and puts the decision in the hands of the consumer. 

Environmental Claims

With the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), many companies see the future of business as providing a sustainable product. Well, what’s wrong with making the planet greener? The ICC raises the concern that while sustainable products are increasing, more businesses are “overstating or misrepresenting” the environmental benefits of a product or service. This happens more than you think and there’s actually a term for it – “Greenwashing”. The ICC believes greenwashing undermines consumer confidence and also penalizes other companies who practice sustainability. For this reason, the ICC put forward the following principles:

  • Ensuring that all statements and visual treatments do not mislead, overstate or exploit consumers’ concern for the environment, given their possible lack of knowledge in the area.
  • Avoidance of general claims, like “environmentally friendly,” “green,” “sustainable,” and “carbon friendly,” unless there is validation of the accomplishment against a very high standard of proof.
  • Presenting qualifications in a way that is clear, prominent, understandable and accessible to consumers.
  • Presenting improvement claims separately so it is clear whether each claim relates to the product, an ingredient of the product, the packaging or an ingredient of the packaging.

Marketing and Advertising to Children

The ICC acknowledges that advertising to the next generation is the ultimate target for advertisers. Children normally influence what their parents buy whether it be a holiday gift or choosing a restaurant. The ICC argues that a child’s vulnerability and inexperience must be protected from potentially harmful content. In response, ICC code suggests that all marketers have the responsibility to be legal, decent, honest, and truthful. The ICC points out one important issue affecting children; childhood obesity. On average, 50% of advertisements children see are on food. ICC believes children are especially vulnerable since they do not understand the risks of malnutrition. As a solution, ICC provides the following points on marketing to children:

  • Only products suitable for children are marketed in media intended for them;
  • Advertising and marketing communications geared to children should be clearly identifiable as marketing; 
  • Communications should not undermine positive behaviour, social mores or parental 
  • Judgement; parents are encouraged to participate and supervise online activities

International marketing and advertisement must be done in an ethical manner. Are there any other regulations that the ICC should add? What’s the biggest concern moving forward?

Global Marketing

Personality within Cultures

When expanding into a new market, it is important to determine how it is different than the home-culture. Will the new market be receptive to the product as-is or do changes need to be made? How do you market the product? A starting point is Hofstede's Cultural Insights, where you can compare the Power Insight, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long Term Orientation, and Indulgence across countries. However, many Western Countries describe themselves in terms of personality traits. This lead to the development of the Five-Factor Model, also known as OCEAN. The five traits are: Openness to Experience (O), Conscientiousness (C), Extroversion (E), Agreeableness (A), and Neuroticism (N). This model is the most popular model to determine personality.

  • Openness to Experience: depth and complexity of an individual's mental life and experience. This refers to a person's willingness to try new things and think outside of the box.
  • Conscientiousness: ability to control impulses and actions in a socially acceptable manner.
  • Extroversion: extroverts vs. introverts. This is based on how a person draws energy and interacts with others.
  • Agreeableness: how well people get along and interact with others.
  • Neuroticism: based on how confident a person is in their own skin.

A key difference between the OCEAN Model and Hofstede's is that OCEAN can map individual people's personalities, not just the country's identity as a whole. In addition, it can aid in determining the demographics of the people who buy a product.

Heat maps of the geographical distribution of personality in Great Britain by.

(A) Regional differences in Extraversion. (B) Regional differences in Agreeableness. (C) Regional differences in Conscientiousness. (D) Regional differences in Neuroticism. (E) Regional differences in Openness. For each personality trait, the areas in blue are comparatively low and the areas in red are comparatively high.

Hofstede focuses on culture, whereas OCEAN focuses on the personalities within the culture. The more individualist look of OCEAN will allow for more insight, and can aid in determining if different parts of the country have different personalities, as viewed above with Great Britain. The OCEAN model can be used in conjunction with Hofestede's model to get a more in-depth view and allow for more focused marketing.


Global Marketing

The Three Key Value Dimensions of Global Branding

The way a brand is perceived is important to its success. Research was conducted by Harvard Business School and market research company Research International to determine the three characteristics consumers associate with global brands. Quality signal, global myth, and social responsibility were found to the key factors of global branding.

Best Brands - Interbrand
  • Quality Signal

Success is perceived to show quality. This is why consumers will buy popular brands. They assume that popular brands are of high quality. Often times, consumers will accept paying premiums because they believe that global brands have better quality. Global brands also have a perception of innovation and being dynamic. On the other hand, local brands are relatively static. The country of origin used to be an important factor, but now a brand’s global reach are most important.

  • Global Myth

Consumers view global brands as symbols of cultural ideals and what they want to be. Consumers use brands to construct an imagined global identity to connect with the rest of the world. The post-World War Two era spread American myths globally. It used to be the American way of life that was coveted and see as the gold standard. However, the global myth has shifted and is now influenced by all dominant global brands. It has become more diverse. It was also commonplace for lifestyle and luxury brands to dominate the global market. Now it has become more diverse and expanded to even information technology.

  • Social Responsibility

Consumers expect companies to handle social problems. Consumers will decide if they want to spend their money on a company based on the company’s decisions concerning problems such as poverty and global warming. There are immense expectations for oil giants to handle global warming. However, consumers do not expect the same kind of actions from local companies. Consumers believe that multinational companies already make an egregious amount of money, so it is their duty to give back. Even companies that hint at any type of racism, sexism, of homophobia will face extreme backlash.

The importance of the three dimensions holds true in most nations. Countries with strong local manufacturers and ethnocentrism would not be affected by global branding as much. However, global branding can be found to have an immense effect in countries that value a perceived way of life. The internet plays a huge role in a company’s ability to control these dimensions. It is up to them to position themselves correctly and market themselves effectively.

Global Marketing

Global Branding and the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Coronavirus has presented immense challenges for companies. Global branding has caused companies to adapt their strategies and operations. With an ambiguous time frame, companies must make changes that will enforce their image, values, marketing, and operations.

Coronavirus emergency: here's what we know so far | UN News

Companies must begin to present with empathy and transparency

In such uncertain times, clarity and empathy must be exhibited by companies. Banks started waiving overdraft fees and cutting interest rates. Some landlords waived rent. Brand voice is more delicate than ever. Automobile companies have started to allow no payments for the first 90 days. Food delivery services offer contact free delivery to enforce social distancing.

Use of media must be done in more agile ways

Companies need to quickly pivot messages depending on circumstance. Nike has launched a new ad campaign with the slogan, “Play inside, play for the world.” Chiquita has also created a new slogan of, “I'm already home. Please do the same and protect yourself.” Flexibility is more important now than ever.

Companies must also be able to modify media mix. Video streaming advertisements are at all time high at the moment. Advertising in mobile gaming is also an avenue worth exploring.

Brand must be associated with a positive connotation

People remember brands for their acts. Whether it is good or bad, it leaves a lasting impression. Gamestop refused to close because they deemed themselves as an essential business. The public response was extremely negative. The companies that act positively will come out of the pandemic with a strong, positive image.

Tesla has been able to pivot their business to creating face masks. Although they are not essential, they have devoted to switching their resources to producing PPE. There have also been instances where companies will continue to pay their employees despite being closed.

Trends must be tracked

This time is critical for companies to track trends and create strategies. Human behavioral trends have drastically shifted. Sentiment and consumption trends must be measures on a regular basis to better adapt messaging. Companies must also build deeper connections with C-suit colleagues.

Adapt to new ways of working to keep delivering

Businesses have adapted to the pandemic by allowing employees to work from home. This enforces social distancing and helps the business keep running. This pandemic also has shown that companies do not need staff on site everyday to be effective. This may lead to trends of more and more companies allowing employees to work remotely.

Global Marketing

International Retailing

Retailing, or the activities that involve selling commodities directly to consumers, has been around for centuries. People have made a living bartering, marketing, and selling their goods for a very long time, but there is great opportunity that presents itself to modern retailers that has not been available to the same retailers from the recent past. The global economic boom that has happened in the past few decades has allowed for trade and commerce to flourish and has resulted in a lot of capital creation. A large part of the boom can be attributed to something called “globalization,” which continues to be much of the reason why our international markets operate so efficiently. Amenities like plane travel and the internet have made international retailing much easier than it was in the past and has attracted more and more businesses into the mix. This has created a domino effect within the market, which does not show any signs of slowing down soon.

So who are these retailers that I am speaking of?… Well, they are many well known businesses that have become household names throughout the past few decades, including, but not limited to: Walmart, Gucci, GAP, IKEA, Lego, Carrefour and Tesco. Broadly speaking, almost all of the international retailers fall into two categories… Grocery retailers and fashion retailers.

The best example one can give about what an international grocery retailer is or does is through the exemplary operations of Walmart. Walmart operates in more than 25 different countries and under 56 different names, if you can believe that. It is the world's largest company by revenue, which totals more than $500 billion in revenue per annum. According to, international grocery retailers follow a multi brand and multi product business format which includes all products like food (fruits, veggies, juices), fashion and clothing (bed linens, multi gender clothing/apparel), branded consumables from other companies, liquor and a myriad of other goods. The most common countries for international grocery retailers to operate in have been those in North America and Europe, but globalization has made it possible to enter into other countries in Asia and even South America.

International fashion retailers include famous companies like Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, and Swarovski. When these retailers embark on their business ventures, they often start in their host or domestic countries first, but then gradually understand that in order to compete on a global scale, they must take advantage of the opportunities present in international markets. What used to be a luxury for only the rich to enjoy is now available to people all around the world, regardless of their levels of disposable income.

As retailers move their businesses international, they need to consider four major issues.

  1. The culture of the people in that country. How will they respond or react to your products?
  2. The legal and regulatory barriers of entering into that host country.
  3. How prepared is your company for going international? Does it have the capital to do so?
  4. Do you have a team that will help you market in this unfamiliar country?


Global Marketing

TikTok: The Next Frontier of Global Marketing

TikTok, the Chinese video-sharing social media platform, seemingly exploded out of nowhere. The app currently has over 2 billion users worldwide, 60% of which are between 13-24 years old. And yet, TikTok is only being used by 4% of social media marketers.

There is a reason brands are apprehensive to enter this massive digital space. First of all, it is overtly anti-marketing. TikTok users flock to the app with an almost urgent intention to showcase their knowledge of new trends, dances, pranks, comedy routines — the list goes on.

So how can you leave an impression on the the impossible-to-ignore platform? Make sure your customers are there, then capture their attention with organic influencer marketing.

Case Study: FENTY Beauty House

Targeting a Gen Z audience, Fenty Beauty invested in a TikTok strategy by opening a dedicated content creation “Fenty House” in March 2020. After the physical location has closed due to coronavirus, Fenty's influencers continued promoting the brand remotely.

For a brand like Fenty Beauty, TikTok is the perfect space to promote diversity and inclusivity — values that closely align with Gen Z and the Fenty brand. Challan Trishann, one of the Fenty Beauty House creators, believes that “Fenty Beauty works [so well on TikTok] because it’s a brand that everybody loves and that has something for everybody. Everybody can find their match.”

Case Study: Chipotle

The Chipotle team first decided to create a presence on TikTok after seeing their brand repeatedly mentioned by users of the app when a Chipotle Instagram video of an employee flipping a lid over a burrito bowl made it over to the platform.

Shortly after, Chipotle launched a #GuacDance challenge, where guacamole fans filmed themselves dancing to a popular avocado-centric song. The campaign took place in July 2019 and became TikTok's highest performing brand challenge in the US, resulting in an extraordinary 250,000 video submissions and Chipotle's most successful guacamole day in history, with more than 800,000 sides of guac served.

The Power of the Zeitgeist

Ultimately, the success behind running these types of campaigns relies on trendjacking: harnessing the creativity of amateur TikTokers who are, too, seeking a way to break the noise and stay relevant in their followers' feeds. This symbiotic relationship between marketers and creators is an incredibly powerful tool that can strengthen a brand's digital strategy overnight — but the most important caveat? You can't try too hard.

llustration by The Sporting Press, The Hollywood Reporter