Don’t Start a Business in Asia Before Knowing the Culture!

If your company is looking to expand into another country, then ‘Glocalization‘ should not be a foreign concept to you. Even if you’ve never heard of the word, chances are you have some appreciation for knowing the local culture before entering a foreign country for business.


In the business sense, glocalization means to strategise with both a global and local perspective in mind. Otherwise termed the “think global and act local” strategy, which stresses the importance of tailoring global products to fit the local market in order to thrive.

Glocalization_expanding_to_asia04.jpgWhy is it so important to know the local culture, you may ask and is anyone else doing it? In fact, yes, if you’ve ever travelled to another country and cared to pay a visit to the local Mcdonald’s you may notice alongside a familiar range of selections are some items on the menu that you’ve never seen before.

And it’s not just Mcdonald’s that’s doing this, actually most of the leading brands around the world have adopted some kind of glocalization in their strategy. Check out this article by for some famous examples of glocalization by world leading brands.

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Appealing to Where There is a Demand

Essentially, glocalization is all about making the business more sustainable by appealing to customers’ needs and tastes. By having an understanding and adopting local practices you are appealing to your consumers’ needs, which means meeting the people where there is a demand.

Ultimately, the success of a company will be determined by how well you tailor to customer needs and requirements, and understanding that one-size does not fit all. Even for companies like Apple, where they only come out with one design like the iPhone and circulate it around different regions, realise the necessity of having different adaptors for their charging units.

Sounds simple? Well it doesn’t have to be complicated,  to be glocalized means to have a global brand that is aware of and appeals to local needs by making use of the contextual knowledge, in other words, the local


Defining the Successful Corporation

At the end of the day, what you want to achieve as a contender in the global market is to create in your consumers the feeling of being a part of a bigger movement, while  still respecting the individuality that exists within the area. A truly successful company is one that recognises these cultural nuances and is able to navigate around them to present an overall cohesive brand.

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Conducting Business in Asia

The truth is, knowing about the local culture is not only about knowing your audience or consumers. The best insights are the ones that are applicable across many situations, and this includes understanding the way you conduct business.

Glocalization_expanding_to_asia01.jpgSince Asia has such a rich diversity of nationalities and traditions, each area holds values that are distinct to them. These rich cultures translate to different practices that are acceptable in the context of business. For example, in South Korea, people endorse a highly hierarchical mindset where knowing your rank and that of your counterpart in business negotiations is crucial, as it is expected that you conduct yourself accordingly. While, in other areas, such as Hong Kong or Singapore, there is not as much of a stress on matching your level of formality according to rank. For more tidbits on business etiquettes you can check out this article by ATD (Association for Talent Development).

However, despite the nuances between different cultures, there are some broad characteristics observed at various degrees that are shared throughout Asia. For example there is an appreciation for giving “ face” (respect) to the other party, for this reason directives and cues are usually presented in a more rounded manner avoiding words like “no” and instead presenting them as humble suggestions.

Effective Strategic Ventures

In business, insight is one of the keys to achieving success. This is especially true if you are looking to venture into a foreign country, so make sure you do enough research beforehand.

Instead of going in big with heavy investments, a great alternative is to set up your presence in a foreign country through PEO. It’s a way of setting up your company immediately at a much lowered cost, by hiring people quickly and bypassing all administrative duties and other barriers of entry. With PEO you have the flexibility and advantage of having someone on the ground, minus all the hassle and large investments involved. This way you can gain insight into the country more quickly and accurately.


When gaining insight, don’t forget to examine the actual viability of your business in that area, to determine whether there is indeed a market for your company and/or product. Also, be sure to gain an understanding of the competition and gauge how well people will respond to your brand in relation to the existing names.

Lastly, make sure you understand the way people operate and conduct business, equip yourself with the local business etiquettes. By doing so not only maximises your chances when dealing with external parties, but can also help you build a strong foundation and workforce.

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