Are you looking to adapt your products or services to a global market? Then you may need to make changes to what you sell, how you sell it, and perhaps even your basic business model.

Doing all this can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help you navigate your way.


Playing the Name Game


Before you begin marketing overseas, consider any possible negative connotations your brand name or slogans might have in the language of your target audience.

Want an example? When the American Dairy Association first tried rolling out its famous “Got Milk” slogan in Mexico, the translation became “Are You Lactating?” Obviously changes had to be made.


Label as Needed


Package labeling can’t just be translated into another language. Different countries mean different systems of weights and measures, labeling guidelines, and government regulatory reviews.

Country of origin might be another piece of information required by the importing country. Or you may need to provide proof the product meets certain safety standards that are not normal in the country of origin.

For more information a good place to start is Once there, type “labeling” followed by the name of the country in which you are interested in the search box.

Global with a Local Twist


There is actually a term for this: Glocalization. The concept is Japanese in origin. The English word, combining “global” and “local” involves adapting your product or service to the local market — including taste and culture.

Achieving glocalization might involve web design that allows consumers in another country to see your offerings in a context they value and honor. An example of a company that masterfully glocalizes is McDonald’s which adopted Asterix the Gaul to replace Ronald McDonald as the company mascot in France.

You may also want to ensure that interactions with customers calling your business phone number are conducted in the local language and in a manner that relates to them and their culture.


Pick and Choose


If your company makes more than one version of a product or offers a number of related services, you might be wise to avoid the temptation to export everything all at once.

Instead, find the most suitable product lines or services and start there. Based on your knowledge of the target market, determine which of your products best fill a need or preference in that country.

Some countries, such as Japan, prefer small packaging. Large or jumbo economy sized containers will likely not sell there. Other countries gravitate to bright colors and patterns.

Be especially mindful of any product or service that might offend local culture or religion. This is why McDonald’s offers a McVeggie burger in India where 80 percent of the population is Hindu.

Consider whether you may need to redesign an electrical product to run on a different level of voltage and whether that can still make the product profitable. When it comes to redesigning a product or service, the less you have to do the better.


Plan Ahead


The easiest adaption problem to solve is one that doesn’t exist. You can help prevent adaption issues by “thinking globally” when in the product or service development stages when possible.

In other words, if you can design a product or service to eliminate the need to change it (by adding or removing) features you will be miles ahead when it comes time to take that product or service global.

For example, if you design a smartphone app or piece of software that you plan to market overseas, build in multi-lingual support from the beginning. Many products today come with instructions in multiple languages — another example of planning ahead.

It may be impossible to avoid all changes when expanding a product offering into a new market, but the more you eliminate, the better.

Do you have any tips for globalizing a product or service? Please share in the comments section below.