So much for the global consumer

One of tenets of the more extreme globalisation mantra is that we have all developed similar buying patterns and firms can thus treat us as global consumers. This little grab from the New York Times, and the accompanying nifty world maps, show otherwise. The article claims that:

“Greeks spend almost 13 times more money on clothing as they do on electronics…[while] Australians spend only 1.4 times more cash on clothes than they do on consumer electronics.”

boot2This has very big implications for the internationalisation decisions of large multinationals. Certain countries become more attractive than others – although the choices are not as clear cut as one might think.

If you are LG or Nintendo do you chase the potentially already sated Aussie consumer, or the yet-to-be-convinced Athenian?

What is unfortunately difficult to visually gauge from the graphs, but is presumably more accessible from the Euromonitor data, is how different the country-level buying behaviours are product-to-product within the Triad regions. This would help get at some of the still contested issues within the regionalisation debate (see this paper by Tom Osegowitsch and I for an insight into this discourse). If, for example, Spaniards are more like Brazillians than Germans in their consumption patterns, and Aussies more like Canadians than Malaysians, where does that put the notion of regional strategies? Will firms really stay close to home geographically, if proximity of tastes is not correlated?

Finally, as an Aussie, I must take umbrage with this quote in the New York Times piece:

“In Australia, what else do you need besides a bathing suit and a pair of Uggs?”

That’s not a mental image any of us would like to think too hard about!


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2 Responses to “So much for the global consumer”

  1. Ami Says:

    Hahah – if only they came to melbourne – I don’t think they would find a bathing suit and ugg boots all that practical!

    In regards to a regional strategy – I think this would still be most logical option but obviously a regional strategy that is not based on geography but rather based on cultural/ economical/ political dimensions.

  2. Steve Sammartino Says:

    Regional marketing / business strategies are the greatest Hoax of all time. Especially in the Asian region which falsely includes Australia. Geographic proximity in this day and age is not nearly as important as wealth position, cultural impact and general consumption behaviour.

    Live example: Kraft foods made me launch a Maxwell House coffee in Australia which was ‘instant granules’ in the same label as the Philipines, because it was part of the regional (Asian) coffee strategy. Asian countries very early on in coffee category development. While Australians were moving very quickly to ground coffee and espresso machines. No prizes for guessing it lasted 5 months on the shelf and Kraft wasted close to $1 million on the launch, while I tried daily to convince them this strategy was a stinker…. Horse, water and all that….

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