For building brands, it pays to be local

Recent times have seen an increase in conversation in promoting local products. FNCCI, CNI and other trade bodies have been found to actively advocate the consumption of local products and “Made In Nepal” is the new buzzword among Nepalese corporate.

Despite the craze for everything foreign among the Nepalese consumers and despite Nepal not being able to produce many strong brands that have been able to sustain over long periods of time, brands definitely have an advantage in being local.

Yes, matching product quality with international products, competing with their well-established systems that have stood the test of time, or even trying to match their marketing and financial muscle can sometimes be overbearing, but when it comes to brand-building being local can also have its advantages. As far as brands are concerned Globalization is definitely moving towards Localization.

We can see many examples of this in markets around us. Xiaomi and Huawei have sold more smartphones than Apple as well as Samsung in the Chinese market in recent times. Brands like Bajaj and Hero have given the Japanese brands a run for their money in the Indian motorcycle industry and now dominate the market. Titan is another Indian brand that is making huge dents in an industry that is traditionally been dominated by global brands. Local consumers are increasingly embracing local products and services that target their needs and wants through local products that understand them better. Nepal too would face this trend sooner rather than later. That would, however, require a long-term sustained approach rather than the usually quick-fix solution that companies here generally look for.

So what are some of the advantages that local brands have over their more illustrious global competitors? Let’s look at a few of them.

A. Globalization

            Surprisingly and ironically, Globalization is one of the reasons that is leading towards Localization. Increased access to information technology and travel around the world is shrinking the globe like never before. Consumers have ‘been there’ and ‘done that’. There is no halo of mystery surrounding international companies and brands like it used to be a couple of decades back. Today’s consumers are looking for more unique experiences as opposed to standard choices. They prefer to get a peek into local cultures rather than something that is floating everywhere.

A case in point is the Beer industry. The market which was traditionally dominated by international brands is now finding itself in fierce competition with local brands that are in tune with the changing local tastes and which show more flexibility in the regional markets and ingrain local cultures. Also, tourists visiting Nepal prefer to have a taste of the local beers rather than something they usually have back home. It provides them with a more wholesome experience of the country they are visiting.

B. Flexibility

            Local companies are generally nimbler than their bigger and often more cumbersome global counterparts. They have the ability to change and adapt more quickly in the fast-changing market environments of today. Consumers have more choices than they have ever had increased choices mean that consumers no longer have to adapt to the products they buy. It’s the other way round now where products need to adapt to the changing requirements of the consumer. Brands have to be more nimble and local brands have the advantage of being able to understand their consumers much quicker and act faster than their heavier and often stubborn global counterparts.

C. Local Pride

            The grass is no longer greener on the other side. Globalization has taught them to look more outward rather than inward. Consumers are more determined to invest in and showcase their culture to the world. Local tastes, local fashion, and local consumerism want to be exported more than imported. It is also creating challenges for global products and hence we can see global products acting more local than many of the local products. A McDonalds offering a McAloo tiki burger in India or a Pepsi producing the next anthem for the Indian cricket team are just some cases in point.

D. Mama Knows Best

            Just like mama knows her kid better than anybody else, local brands understand the local culture and consumers and their idiosyncrasies better than anybody else. This gives local brands a huge advantage, as brands are getting more consumer-centric than ever before. Consumption is getting more individualistic and unique and consumers want to break away from the trends. This means an increase in demand for tailored products and experiences, which a local brand is in a better position to offer.

            There is a huge takeaway for local companies, brands, and marketers. Look around and make an effort to understand what your local consumer really wants and start a Brand Movement around that shared local value. Utilize your home advantage to come out as a winner.

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