Why one-size-fits-all global marketing strategies are unlikely to work, according to new research BCG ad
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By Aparna Bharadwaj, managing director and partner, BCG, and Lauren Taylor, managing director and partner, BCGGlobalization was supposed to be the great homogenizer of consumer markets. As they spend more time streaming the same movies, interacting on social media, and traveling abroad, the narrative goes, the mindsets of consumers across the world — especially for the young and affluent — would increasingly converge. As a result, marketers could appeal to Gen Z and other demographic groups globally with similar messages.
However, new research by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) indicates that building global marketing campaigns around generic archetypes could be unwise. A survey of 15,000 consumers of different ages and income segments in China, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, and the US found that consumer attitudes, needs, and behaviors remain highly localized. To avoid leaving money on the table, brands need to develop differentiated, country-specific approaches to target consumers at their moment of purchase or consumption.
Consumers across the world have different viewsBCG's Center for Customer Insight asked consumers in the six nations to respond to 56 different attitudinal statements. Among the findings were that differences in consumer attitudes and sentiments are not only sharp between East and West, but also between Japan and China. There was a far higher agreement in Japan and China than in the West that technology "enables a richer life," for example, and that it's important to be recognized for "sense of style." headtopics.com
Chinese consumers stood apart from the rest regarding their top 10 attitudes. Eighty-six percent of Chinese consumers surveyed expressed interest in how others perceive their purchases, which was not a major concern in any Western market. Only 27% of Germans and 24% of French cited others' perceptions as important, for example. Around 80% of Chinese consumers agreed they are optimistic about the future, again far more than in any other country studied. In Japan, only 25% expressed optimism for the future.
Consumers in Western nations, meanwhile, exhibited far greater individualism. When asked to rank their most important attitudes, those in Australia, France, Germany, and the US agreed strongly with the assertion that it is "important to be an individual." This statement resonated less in Japan and failed to make the top 10 attitudes in China. Western markets also exhibited significant differences. For instance, the US stands apart in considering religion to be an essential aspect of life.
Boston Consulting GroupAttitudes of the youth and affluent are just as diverseThe study also challenges the conventional wisdom that younger generations and high-income consumers worldwide share many attitudes and preferences due to their higher connectivity to the internet and social media. When it compared cross-country correlations of attitudes for sub-30-year-olds to those for all respondents, BCG found that the attitudinal differences among young consumers are just as distinct by country. (See the infographic above.) Attitudinal differences were just as pronounced from one country to the next among high-income groups as well.
These findings indicate that global archetypes of consumer mega-segments based entirely on demographics are exaggerated. It is risky for brands to develop a broad marketing strategy without taking significant local nuances into account. For instance, they should not assume that just because Gen Z consumers in different countries engage with the same social media channels, they share similar attitudes toward products. While companies should still target consumers through social media, they should tailor messages to local audiences. headtopics.com
The study did find some striking attitudinal similarities among countries. There was strong alignment between US and Australian consumers on many sentiments, such as the high priority placed on being among "small groups of close friends" and the degree to which they agree on the benefits of technology and their level of optimism about the future. The findings also revealed general alignment between German consumers and French consumers, such as their high willingness to "buy products that support positive causes and responsible products" and a hesitance toward "buying on impulse."
Overall, however, the BCG study found that consumer attitudes tend to be more different than similar from one market to the next. Read more: Business Insider »
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