What is glocalisation?

The world and our view of it have changed radically over the past few decades. Wherever we are, the internet gives us up-to-the-minute information on the latest events around the world, and allows us to choose from an extensive range of products in the globalised market. Including products from other parts of the world in our day-to-day diet is now a matter of course. But that does not stop us from being passionate supporters of our local sports club or buying bread from the baker around the corner.

Glocalisation is a portmanteau word combining the concepts of globalisation and localisation. These concepts are not opposed to one another, they are in perfect equilibrium. Globalisation reflects the international character of many parts of our daily life, while localisation is all about adapting to local circumstances. Glocalisation is important in both a cultural and political sense: in an age where work, the economy and lifestyles have become globalised, we are increasingly seeing a return to regional and local traditions, values and characteristics.

What are the benefits of glocalisation?

Companies make use of glocalisation to achieve targeted marketing. In line with the idea “think globally, act locally”, multinationals cultivate a global image, but adapt their products and the way they address target groups to regional and cultural preferences. We live in a world that is shaped by diversity. Successful companies are those that tailor their ranges to particular countries and customise them to the greatest possible extent, instead of simply selling undifferentiated mass products. These businesses take account of different needs and ideals, and the different perceptions that cultures have of themselves. For example, a luxury version of a particular product can be produced for the European and North American market, and a cheaper model for the Asian market, where average incomes are significantly lower.

Coca-Cola – a perfect example

Coca-Cola is a good example of a company that employs a glocal strategy. In China, Coke is sold as a lifestyle drink, but in the USA the marketing strategy is geared towards portraying Coca-Cola as a family drink. In Austria and Germany, it is mainly advertised as a refreshing, low-sugar drink. In this case, globalisation goes hand in hand with localisation: the product is the same all over the world (globalisation), but is advertised differently in each country and continent (localisation).

Glocalisation on TV

The same goes for German-language talent shows like “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” or dating shows such as “Bauer sucht Frau”. Productions with German or American protagonists follow a uniform, pre-determined pattern, but certain details are different. Exuberant and very often extroverted expressions of emotion are common on American TV, but such exaggeration is not part of German-language variants – a reflection of the German mentality. So programmes like these differ from place to place, although they basically use the same international format.

The glocal diet

For years, glocalisation has been taking place in our kitchens, where authentic, down-to-earth, home cooking has been combined with outside influences in surprising ways. Good old Maggi seasoning is giving way to soy sauce, and wasabi is the new horseradish. Today’s stressed customers can unwind with anti-stress drinks made from homegrown stinging nettles and Far Eastern ingredients like gingko, ginseng and aloe vera. Anyone who still wants to enjoy the taste of the Middle East when they are on the move can simply add hot water to a couscous snack that takes its cue from classic instant snacks and meals.