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Essay: Create Brand Awareness with Glocalization: Walt Disney’s International Marketing Plan

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…Nowadays, global marketing is looking for results on how to attract more customers to ideas, products, services or whatever they are trying to put into the mind of consumers. Indeed, different theories have been developed in order to understand more easily how international marketing works and which tools businesses have used in order to acquire a wider range of awareness inside customers.

Globalization is a concept that most people during the 21th century have been related to. It does not matter if they have experienced itself or just hear it in a simple situation, this idea has been the critical point of how business is working in our daily basis. Probably there is not a place in the world where globalization has not made its mark, however this concept is not just enough to understand how some firms have taken advantage of a global concept for their process of internationalization.

Industry globalism is determined by the international marketing environment (Hollensen, 2011), in which a firm must determine whether it is global, potentially global or local. After different studies, companies must carry out the strategies that best suits the main goal it wants to achieve into the global marketing. This last concept represents how the firm is able to find and satisfy global customer needs better that the competition (Hollensen, 2011). This whole research represents the competitive advantage that the firm must undertake in order to survive in the constant changing market, but in fact, if the right strategy is achieved, the firm will succeed in achieving its goals.

Strategies are not always easy to plan or to put into development. Nonetheless, an actual strategy for the internationalization process inside an international marketing plan of a firm is Glocalization. This theoretical concept is what firms are using in order to maintain their global brand view but with a suitable advantage of representing the commodity of a local area. The 'Glocal strategy' refers clearly to the idea of 'think global, act local' and combines the pros from strategies of a global and local view (Dumitrescu & Vinerean, n.d). The development of this strategy emphasizes in how to sell products and/or services for the global market, but adapted to suit local culture (Hollensen, 2011).

Anyhow, this concept has to be developed further than just thinking in design and communications; it must take into account every variable from the marketing mix in order to succeed and be well applied. The social, economic and political interdependences make the world more global but people's heart remain with its local surroundings (Vorhauser, 2012). That is why, this concept is indeed really important in understanding how people feel about its local beliefs and behaviors but adding a global view of internationalization.

It is believed that 10 year ago we might have seen the terms of global and local from two different and completely opposite sides (Vorhauser, 2012), but now, the mix of this two visions is what gives firms the possibility to act glocal. And, in the end, what people want is to have a brand that has both global and local, a brand that 'makes them feel part of an international community, but also a brand that root the in their home culture' (Dumitrescu & Vinerean, n.d).

During the past years, there have been enterprises that have developed this strategy in order to succeed in their business and to fulfill their objectives inside their international marketing plan. Different examples can be presented in order to understand how they work and what they do, but in fact, the case going to be developed, explained and analyzed, is the one of a well-known company, mostly for children: Walt Disney Company.

Making dreams come true, globally.

Walt Disney Company is an enterprise founded almost 93 years ago best known by its work into the character and animation creation process, where it can be found different kinds of products such as movies, tv shows, series, games, etc. However, this enormous company is world-wide recognize for its major attractions: The Disneyland theme parks. Many families around the word save their money during a whole year just to have, what is commonly said, their 'dream vacations'. Meeting Mickey Mouse our just taking a picture with the Cinderella Castle is what mostly parents want to give to their children for a family trip.

Nevertheless, Disneyland theme parks have not always had a good start. This company started as the dream for Americans, really based on a truly American family and its culture, which later adapted to mostly visitors in the US; but indeed when the company decided to expand to other countries, they started to experience series of difficulties. The first park outside the US was in Tokyo, opened in 1983, later the Disneyland Paris was opened in 1992, Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005 and the newest theme park in Shanghai opened in 2016. Nowadays there are 6 Walt Disney resorts around the world, represented in the following map:

Figure 1. Disney around the world

All these theme parks had the great visibility of a global and huge brand such as Walt Disney and encourage a lot of excitement. However, what the company did not take into account is that local culture could affect the development of the park in aspects such as price, labor, food and others. This was especially strong to be seen in cities such as Paris and Hong Kong, where adaptations had to be taken into account in order to fulfill the local needs and expectations.

At first, the Disney Resort planned to be constructed in Europe had different debates of where should it be located. Finally, it was decided to be placed in France due to its good climate and accessibility with public transportation (Matusitz, 2010). However, expectations where not really fulfilled; the number of attendance was not what managers imagined and people did not get excited about the park. The following graph shows the difference (10 times less) of attendance (Matusitz, 2010):

Figure 2. Attendance at Disneyland Paris opening

A similar situation happened in Hong Kong. The expected attendance was fulfilled but during years later, after its opening in 2005, attendance drop down (Matusitz, 2011). This made managers to take action and analyze what was happening inside the context of the theme park, not only looking at it as a representation of a global brand such as Disney, but to understand what difficulties where being presented in the context of the culture and society they were immersed.

Figure 3. Attendance through year in Disneyland Hong Kong

For both situations, it was concluded that culture really influenced what people thought about the park and how much they enjoyed it. In Paris, at first the construction of this park was seems as an addition of 'American plastic' (Matusitz, 2010), in which Europeans were not favorable at all to visit. However, the park made its changes in order to adapt more to the culture with the incremental presence of a European menu, a cut in prices and a turn of shows and visual settings in a more French style (Matusitz, 2010).

On the other hand, in Hong Kong there were couple of changes that had to be made in order to offer the park not just to tourist from other countries but to Chinese as well. Managers realized that Chinese families coming from inside China, were a truly high customer potential, and in order to satisfy their needs and make a more memorable visit, the theme park changed in different aspects.

Disneyland Hong Kong had four established changes that were the turning point into transforming the theme park into a more likeable place to visit for the Asian culture (Matusitz, 2011). At first, prices were cut; getting knowledge on how much a Chinese family was willing to spend in its trip, the company realized that they had to lower their price in order to attract more customers.  Secondly, they began a process of adaptation for local visitors; indeed, the park started to include local meals in its menu and hire staff that could speak English as well as Mandarin. In the third place, changes in decoration and setting were made. The whole concept of Feng Shui, an important belief inside the Chinese culture, was incorporated in the accommodation of things inside the park and how well it would suit local visitors. Finally, and one of the most important aspects for the park to succeed, was the adaptation in labor practices (Matusitz, 2011). This change allowed to understand how personnel should work inside Disneyland and what were really the common customs of the culture.

The Disney Company understood that this changes were the turning point for a more profitable and desirable theme park; in which they also conclude that by engaging Chinese and Asian visitors with Disneyland Hong Kong, doors in the rest of USA parks were being opened (Moran & Keane, 2010).  The following chart presents the basic concepts in each of the four changes:

Figure 4. Four glocalization changes in Disneyland Hong Kong

Achieving goals, locally.

Walt Disney Company represents one of many firms that have gone through a process of improvements and changes in respect to their local management plans. Although they might be known as one of the top global brands, the company understood the importance of studying deep the culture of each place they were establishing and how they can take advantage of different aspects of the local culture to grow and be better.

Cases such as the one in Paris or the previous explained in Hong Kong, demonstrate how the company used the Glocalization approach in their process of international marketing. In each case, Walt Disney Company has provided people the opportunity to feel part of a global community with their world-wide known brand name, but has in fact give the chance to experience a home culture without losing its roots. This Glocalization case is an example of what changes have to be made when a company fails imposing its culture (Matusitz, 2010).

Disneyland Hong Kong and Disneyland Paris are truly examples of what the Glocalization theory is about, and how it can be demonstrated the concept of 'think global, act local'. This company now has learned the importance of giving every single detail a truly characteristic that can combine the idea of what Disney World means but approaching a local concept. By this, it can be concluded that Walt Disney Company has improved its work toward understanding the local necessities of people and incorporate its brand to satisfy those needs. They still have work to do in updating as time goes by, but so far, Disney has made a good job in their process of international marketing.

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