Most marketers and business leaders have heard of the slogan 'Think Global, Act Local'. HSBC even created a highly visible advertising campaign around this theme which further contributed to its popularity. It seems that this idea may no longer be relevant while doing business in high growth emerging markets .
Earlier this week, I attended a panel discussion on doing business in emerging markets, organised by Indian School of Business (ISB) in Singapore. One of the speakers was Harish Manwani, the COO of Unilever. Harish passionately spoke about adopting the mindset of 'Think Local, Act Global' instead of 'Think Global, Act Local'. He pointed out that 'Thinking Local' is all about having local insights and perspectives. And leveraging on these insights, 'Acting Global' then gives you the ability to introduce best global solutions to the local consumers. At the same time, acting global also differentiates your organisation from other local competitors and gives you an extra edge in the marketplace.
This also related well with the comments made by the other speaker Sunny Verghese, CEO of Olam. Olam is one of the world’s top three suppliers of rice, cocoa and coffee, and is part-owned by Singapore based Temasek Holdings. Sunny said that even a commodity based business like Olam differentiates its offerings to be competitive. He went on to highlight that any company that didnt differentiate its products and services runs the risk of becoming a 'commodity' business.
These are some very important ideas in relation to doing business in the emerging markets given both Unilever and Olam have lot of experience working here.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Please leave your comment in the box below.