Standardization – Adaptation Debate 


Levitt, an advocate of standardization argued that corporations should offer universally standardized products instead of customizing. He believes corporation should operate as if the world is one market and disregard regional and national boundaries (Levitt, 1983). According to Schmidt et al. (2007), the application of standardization offers many advantages such as economies of scale in buying and replication of store designs and marketing technique will result in cost savings. Other advantages include uniform global image and easier coordination, monitoring and control as product and strategies used are same (Schmidt et al. 2007). No theory is perfect. Standardization has disadvantages that include governmental and trade restrictions that could limit a corporation attempt at standardization. The nature of the marketing and competitive structure may also hamper standardization in some regions. Most importantly, the interest and response patterns differ in some regions. Thus, it can make standardization almost impossible (J Haron, 2016).

Adaptation strategy takes into consideration the differences in each region and changes various aspects of the offering be it service or product to a reasonable extent to meet the needs of consumers in that region (Chung, 2009). Vrontis and Thrassou believe that “multinational companies should have to find out how they must adjust an entire marketing strategy and, including how they sell, distribute it, in order to fit new market demands” (Vrontis and Thrassou, 2007). Adaptations of product design, functions and capabilities to the needs of targeted region consumer base is likely to be reciprocated with positivity, even for the revenues (Korotkov et al. 2013). Adaptation strategy allows corporation to swiftly compete in a region while the global brand has yet to gain recognition in the market. Adaptation also wins the heart of local market because it develops local contents. Thus, winning customers and creating a following that will maximize sales. Of course, all the advantages come at a cost. There is no cost savings in this instance and there is limited control with lack of uniform global image.

“Glocalisation” is the hip term for many multinational corporations (MNCs) in recent times. A term that is derived from the Japanese word “dochakuka” which originally referred to a way of adapting farming techniques to local conditions. “Dochakuka” loosely translates into English as land, arrive and process of (Khondker, 2004). Today, glocalisation has inspired many MNCs to “think global, act local”. Glocalisation is often linked to the “standardization – adaptation debate”. The difference of opinions is connected to various theories of marketing. It is essential to critically assess the concept itself and how it relates to the “standardization-adaptation debate”.

Broadly speaking, glocalisation simply means the merging of global and local factors – it standardizes certain core factors and adapts other factors such language, culture, and desired local “look-and-feel.”. Roland Robertson stated that glocalisation “means the simultaneity – the co-presence -of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies” (Robertson, 1994). Glocalisation is a strategic synergy of the global market and local particularities and preferences that motivates specific combinations. An understanding of globalization is imperative to the discussion of glocalisation.

Globalization has made way for deeper integration and interconnectedness. This resulted from opening the global economy that increases trade between nations, which is encouraged by rapid advancement in communication technologies. Information technology has also made it possible to learn about needs, wants and culture of people in other countries, and has made it possible to trade products across borders with ease. Today, globalization has continued to provide opportunities for further technological advancements, economic growth, political stability and social cohesion. Ohmae argued that political borders are becoming increasingly less relevant, as countries continue to form a giant, interlinked economy. This is no longer just confined to developed countries but rapidly joined by developing countries (Ohmae, 1994). Thus, glocalisation is defined by two positions; it can be viewed because of globalization or a deterrent to globalization. Glocalisation allows for local and global marketing activities to be optimized simultaneously. The concept acknowledges the need for local marketing strategies when entering a different market. Adaptation to local circumstances and conditions will amount to more successful marketing activities in the individual countries (Kotler et al, 2009).

Porter argued that to analyse the immediate competitive environment, a corporation must consider the forces that determine the competition. The impact of Porter’s Five Forces facilitates the competitiveness and economic potential of an industry (Porter, 1979). It is crucial to base the framework on local market conditions to analyse immediate competition. Thus, without a doubt, there is a need for local marketing strategies in target market. According to Porter’s generic strategies: focus, targeting a segment and tailoring a product or service to the needs of the targeted segment will increase competitive advantage for growth and resilience (Porter, 1985). Many global corporations have offered products that integrates with market research. Essentially, some variance to a product line or service could go a long way to gaining market share. Additionally, over the years, many corporations have attempted various glocal tactics to adapt and localize in the different countries. The glocal tactics that are developed are more apparent in connection to the marketing mix.

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Hofstede defines culture as the encapsulation of values with wide propensities to lean toward particular conditions of undertakings over others (Hofstede,2001). Products can be adapted to the different regions to entice buyers. A lot of factors can be considered when designing a product that is catered to the region. It includes attitude, beliefs, values, customs, social institution, religion, aesthetics, language and communication. For instance, fast food chains have long adapted their menus to suit the local market. McDonald’s is an excellent example with many variations of menu items in various regions.


A good glocal pricing strategy will reflect value and match the market. This is no stranger to many corporations. The annual Big Mac index reflects the average price of the popular burger proving the well-established McDonald’s has varied pricing in every region, a price that works.


Corporations can change its promotion and communications campaign and blends into cultures from the various regions.  Advertisement can be done by adopting local content such as local festivities celebrated by the region and using familiar faces like local celebrities.

Place (Distribution)

India has many small towns and villages. It is one of those countries where many major corporations have adopted non-traditional distribution methods to reach the Indian population that lives in these small towns and villages. In more developed countries, fast food chains have introduced delivery services in some countries. Order can be done through a call or from the website. Some fast food such as Burger King and McDonald’s have even partnered with delivery service providers (Levin, 2017).

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