Why Cultural Brokerage?
Is it not enough for researchers to be very familiar with a market? Surely they just need to know what makes the consumers tick . . . no, this is not enough (anymore). The discrepancy to be resolved here is that of pitching brands and products to a global community without forfeiting their ability to address local cultures.
These days, such an insight may sound banal, but in the early days of globalised brand management, many manufacturers made the mistake (for which they paid dearly in some cases) of pushing through “universal” brand values and strategies which were devoid of any cultural nuancing.
This is now a thing of the past, thank goodness, although the challenge of reconciling global brands with cultural usage and interpretation still remains.
What is Cultural Brokerage exactly?
Cultural brokerage is a mediation or transfer process designed to identify relevant culture-specific interpretations of a product category and translate them into a form that can be used for global marketing. For this we turn to the approach of culture-sensitive comparative interpretation. Our experience has shown that it is conducive to a successful transfer process if the researcher – the so-called “cultural broker” – does NOT actually originate from the respective cultural environment but instead possesses the necessary cultural expertise while maintaining the required critical distance.
Our bridgehead strategy aims to train just such “cultural brokers”.
What is the GIM bridgehead strategy?
Our bridgehead strategy is the reverse of what one would expect in the literal sense, because we have made a conscious decision not to set up our own branch offices in all relevant markets.
Instead we work with excellent local institutes and train our own researchers as “cultural brokers”. They act as our in-house bridgeheads in the local markets: they have carried out research or have indeed lived in the local market and are thus equipped with language skills and cultural expertise, or they have acquired this knowledge during a fixed-term staff exchange.
The growing amount of international research bears witness to the fact that this strategy is paying off.