Globalization, Localization…Glocalization?!

Posted by Michela Ferullo

Globalization, Localization, Glocalization: What do they all mean?!

Nowadays, in the global market, the terms localization and globalization are constantly thrown around.  Recently, it seems localization and globalization have gotten together and co-created another term to be tossed into the mix: glocalization.  Most people are asking themselves what do any of these three terms actually mean.  This article will break down the different expressions and provide examples of what exactly they do.

So, what are they?


Ok, globalization, pretty self-explanatory from the name alone.  Globalization is the worldwide movement of interaction and integration between different people, companies, and governments of dissimilar nations.  This age-old concept has just been taken to an entirely new level given today’s rapid and expansive technology and innovation.  We can thank Christopher Columbus for taking the first steps (literally) into the global expansion of trades and cultures we see today.

Example: By globalizing, the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament included 32 teams hailing from countries all over the world.  This led to the each match in the tournament averaging over 50,000 attendees, for a total of almost 3.5 million.  It was also estimated the final match had roughly 715 million viewers. The globalization of this sport and competition led to a melting pot of cultures within each city hosting matches and viewings.


Localization, on the other hand, is the adjustment of a companies’ original output in their home country’s meaning or perception to be suitable in another language and culture. Companies can choose to localize anything: from a marketing campaign to product packaging, localization is crucial for companies with a global reach. This method is to accommodate for the changes between the languages, cultural, political andlegal differences of foreign markets.  Localization is taking the intended final creation, of any field, for a specific target market and then picking it up, dropping it in a completely different target market and adjusting it to thrive just as well as the original. Think: you wouldn’t just toss a car into the ocean and assume it will swim…or at least I hope you wouldn’t. The localization of a product is the evolutionary adaption to its new environment.

Example: Many multi-million dollar companies, when attempting to reach out to international markets, fail to fully adapt their homegrown products to foreign populations.  One of the most epic fails in global branding was Apple’s initial entrance of the Apple II Euro Plus laptop into the European market.  They made the grave mistake of not adjusting the keyboard to Europeans, disregarding significant letters and symbols used to type in that region, and leading to a halt in production and major hit to profits.


Glocalization: to accurately define this term, think of a global marketing and production equivalent of millennials combining celebrity names to create a whole new monster (i.e. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie = Brangelina).  Glocalization is essentially the combination of the end products of globalization and localization forces.  The driving concept behind glocalization is that the initial product or service is created with the specific foreign market in mind.  Instead of adapting, like localization, the slight alteration during preproduction is built into the product or services from the get-go.  Glocalization is a fresh term in the industry, created only within the past 30 years.

Example:  Being a globalized, dominant company (at least until recently), McDonald’s had to learn to adapt to the local cultures, religious beliefs, and tastes of wherever they’re branching out.  Due to the different preferences in other cultures, McDonald’s has had to significantly alter, add or remove some menu options.  These include Kimchi (fermented tofu) Burgers in Koreano beef or pork sold in India, and kosher locations in Israel.

In the end, globalization, localization, and glocalization are absolutely essential concepts for international companies.  By not globalizing you could seriously hinder the expansion and potential of your organization.  By disregarding localization, the message you’re trying to communicate could be misconstrued.  And finally, by ignoring glocalization your products or services could fail in foreign markets due to the lack of minor variations or adaptions.  Going global? Find out how Lionbridge onDemand could help your company implement these three terms.