McDonald’s Showcases Glocal Strategy

If you’ve dined in both the UK and the US, then you don’t need any focus groups to figure out that Brits and Americans have different culinary palettes. So it’s no surprise that a global food company might need a slightly different strategy in each country.

An article called McDonald’s: The World’s Local Restaurant pointed out how McDonald’s business has grown significantly from introducing products tailored to the specific customer tastes in other parts of the world like Little Chorizo Melt in Britain, McItaly burger in Italy, Maharaja Mac in India, McLobster in Canada and an Ebi Filit-O in Japan.

This is similar to what Macy’s found when it tailored its local merchandising as part of its My Macy’s strategy. In Macy’s case, the local changes affected different parts of the US.

These efforts are not isolated, but represent a move to a strategy called Glocalisation. While the term was originally used by Japanese businesses in the 1980s (thanks for the reference Deepak), here’s my spin on a definition:

Tailoring products and merchandising to meet local needs while supporting global brands

Here are some differences between Glocalisation and the typical approach of just translating a global strategy into local markets:

  • Corporate marketing and merchandising groups will need to rethink their efforts. Rather than just setting strict global standards, they will also need to define parameters for local innovation.
  • Local leaders will need to take on more responsibility for innovation, and not just operate in conformance with corporate standards.
  • Innovation will need to be funded at both the global and local levels.

The bottom line: Is your strategy Glocal enough?

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

7 thoughts on “McDonald’s Showcases Glocal Strategy”

  1. From Wikipedia –

    “The term glocalization originated from within Japanese business practices. It comes from the Japanese word dochakuka, which simply means global localization. Originally referring to a way of adapting farming techniques to local conditions, dochakuka evolved into a marketing strategy when Japanese businessmen adopted it in the 1980s. [3] It was also used in the Global Change Exhibition (opened May 30, 1990) in the German Chancellery in Bonn by Manfred Lange, the director of the touring exhibit development team at that time.”

    1. Hi Jamesva: You’d think that lost of companies are doing it. If you look at my post, “My Macy’s” which was introduced last year was the company’s approach to begin “localizing” the merchandising decisions. Absolutely companies are doing some of this, but I was struck by how McDonald’s also just started doing it in Europe and is seeing such great success. So it’s not new, but it’s also not done enough. Thanks for your feedback.

  2. Bruce

    What Macy’s is doing is on the right track, but there’s a bigger opportunity for companies in the glocal idea than simply tailoring product mix by region. It’s to redesign their entire customer experience not just from the outside-in, but from the bottom up.

    In the US, beneath the obvious veneer of sameness, there are enormous economic, demographic and cultural differences between one community and another. What does NYC have in common with Phoenix for example? (Plenty of opportunities for humor here). Or Traverse City, MI with Fresno, CA? Despite some commonality the differences are surely greater.

    A couple of years ago I was in Miami talking to a group of auto dealers. They spent the first 30 minutes complaining bitterly about the TV ads coming out of the brand marketing department in Detroit. “Not relevant to our market”. “They just don’t get our culture”. “Every time they run a NASCAR spot we lose another customer”. etc. My point is that centralized, one-size-fits-all marketing, communications, advertising and customer experience strategy is horrifically inefficient and inappropriate in such a diverse country like this.

    Company executives need to get out of the mothership (perhaps permanently) and actually get to know the customers and communities they’re serving and then craft experiences and an internal culture that’s designed to serve them. Just as the top-down 30 second TV spot is being replaced by bottom up social media, so glocal needs to replace global as a way to understand and serve customers and communities.

  3. Glocalization, It is about ” connected into local market by using global approaches. “Being connected” glocally is the key strategy that you must look into. Sales network glocalization, distribution network glocalization, retail network glocalization, and B2B glocalization.

  4. The next wave is glocalization. Deeper penetration, Turn exports into imports. Control own market share.
    Employment rate will increase through glocalization. I welcome glocal strategist to email me.

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