Engineer Locally, Win Globally

Whether it be mouth-watering delicacies, novel destinations, or social network connection, a local flavor is always appreciated by the end consumer. The world of electronic products is no different. An electronic product built with the knowledge of local needs is sure to be a market success. However, getting the proportion of the local essence right is absolutely essential.

Important questions to ask in this situation include the following: What product should we localize? Should we go for complete grounds-up design or garnish a global product with a tinge of local flavor? What should be our go-to-market strategy for a localized product — price point, market maturity, differing use-case, ecosystem influences to tap into, etc.? An engineering R&D partner with local expertise can go a long way in helping global companies create an appetite for their products in local markets, especially in emerging economies.

So, how can a global company develop a localized product strategy, and what role should a local engineering R&D partner play? To build a successful product for a local market one needs:

A deep understanding of the local market to adapt to market differences. Every market has specific pitfalls and challenges, including usage scenarios, business or cultural peculiarities, a local network of influencers, and regional regulations/policies. An engineering partner who is a part of the local ecosystem can bring such insights into play.

Resilient localization strategy. Based on the study and analysis of the local market along with the second opinion of a trusted local partner, a global company can decide among various product development approaches for local markets: reengineering or building a product from scratch for local market needs; partial localization or customization of an existing product range for local tastes; or selling its product as-is (zero localization.)

Thereafter, a local partner can help global companies take crucial product development decisions on whether to add features or simplify products, use standardized designs allowing customization, or build different models/platforms for different markets. Their in-depth knowledge of the ecosystem and regulatory frameworks can be leveraged to navigate regulatory requirements and redesign a product to meet local and emerging market needs and regulations.

Building effective go-to-market strategy. All efforts would fall flat without a sound go-to-market strategy in the local region. A global company can use the local partner to establish strong ties with local network/ecosystem players, thereby increasing its chances of reaching potential buyers. Further, global companies need to keep abreast of changing local dynamics to ensure sustenance of their current localized products and create derivatives for changing needs.

11 comments on “Engineer Locally, Win Globally

  1. Ariella
    July 14, 2011

    Excellent post. You provide clear, concrete directives on realizing “think global; act local.”

  2. elctrnx_lyf
    July 14, 2011

    Truly a great article. And this is what major global companies are trying to do by establishing their development with in the local markets. This may not be applicable to all markets like aviation, telecom etc. But surely applies to any product that touches the human like energy, medical and consumer electronics.

    July 14, 2011

    I read your article with interest.  Would you be able to share with our readers any examples of where this strategy worked and where it did not go so well?

  4. prabhakar_deosthali
    July 15, 2011

    Apart from giving the local flavour to the product, using the global brand imgae of the procduct also helps in a major way.

    The fact that a global company is specially tailoring their popular product as per your local style and fashion itself attracts the consumers to this prodcut because it enhances thier self-esteem.

    One advt by the mobile company MAX comes to my mind. They advertise the loud sound of their mobile as the plus point in Indian market because the Indian consumers like it loud.


    Another strategy by Mac-donalds to have local flavour to their burgers while keeping the original quality french fries  and the original look and feel of thier shop layouts throughout the world is in my opinion a good mix of Originality+ Global brand imgae + the local flavour.


  5. mfbertozzi
    July 15, 2011

    It is a good question Flyingscot; it is not my aim to overtake Prasad, I leave him maybe a deep reply and more details. Anyway, from my point of view, mobile telecom could be a good example and an answer to your question. For major providers in fact, we are assisting to a global brand but a market strategy focused on customized needs raised locally; in general also assistance is arranged tipically by employment of local resources, to fit better end users mindset or basically local language.

  6. Eldredge
    July 15, 2011


        Based on your experience, what do you define as local, for a global company? Do you mean regionally with a country, or a larger scope than that? Does the definition change based on the industry in question?


  7. Anand
    July 18, 2011

    “A deep understanding of the local market to adapt to market differences”


     What is the best way to understand the local markets ? For example companies find it tough to understand and do business with China. Do you think its advisable to make tie up with local companies so that you get expertise who understands local market better ?

  8. Prasad Bhatt
    July 18, 2011

    @ FlyingScot: The strategy of localization (rather than total re-engineering) works well if the cost and feature dimensioning of the problem are not very drastic. For instance, an ultra low cost car (an equivalent to Tata Nano) would require total re-engineering rather than localization of an existing platform.

    The telecom players are able to work with very low customization on Hardware but with different sets of applications to monetize the requirement.

  9. Prasad Bhatt
    July 18, 2011

    @Eldredge: In most product cycles, the system design needs to be modified for local market needs in terms of features, cost and performance. The system design mostly requires changes to Hardware (Board & Mechanicals), Embedded Software and Applications. There is a need to select alternate chips rather than re-designing the silicon.  Hence based on market segments, we see more customization required for consumer electronics devices (e.g. Mobile devices, TVs, Set-Top Box etc.), limited use-cases in specific consumer health devices, automotive electronics and Telecom CPE (customer premise equipment).

    In most cases, the regional aspect within the country is addressed by an Application layer. Hardware is customized for a country or emerging markets mainly due to address price point differentials. Another case requiring customization for local needs is differences in standards. Usually standard differentials are taken care off at the software level. However, at times hardware customization may be needed.

  10. stochastic excursion
    July 18, 2011

    Microsoft's .NET programming languages have localization built in to their function libraries.  These are limited though to number separators for large numbers, alphabet characters and so on.  Even a small nod in the direction of cultural variation can increase the usability of an application and reduce the learning curve for the user.

  11. _hm
    August 14, 2011

    Excellent post. Remembering you meeting at Wipro M G Road office around 20 years back. Rememberance to you from me and Shrikant.

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