The Power of Being Local

What if local looks inside its origin to find its values?

The more horizontal market causes less domination power. In the market that consumers have more power and control, the importance of being customer and value orientation is emerging. Thus, what can local brands do in order to serve the best value to local market?

the domination of global brands (picture source)

There are various shampoo brands in a store. They look similar with attractive packaging and are dominated by either Unilever or P&G. If I put one local brand that is not nearly as famous as the others, would you like to buy it instead of other big brands? Probably not, unless it vividly shows the advantages I need that other brand doesn’t have.

In this connected market, consumers become savvier as they can assess the value of product and price. Thus, local brands should offer personal value that global brands don’t have. Luckily, that value has already stuck to the brands: locality.

While the stream of global brands is inevitable, local brands still have a chance to handle their local market. The point is to deliver more meaningful value to local people. Ger (1999) depicted that even though globalisation makes local brands become less recognized, the competitiveness of local brands can be induced by delivering unique perceived value through its locality.

As specified by Özsomer (2012), local iconness can be a distinguish value and can be used to leverage brand’s prestige in market. In order to create brand’s local iconness, local brands can exploit its capital that is ignored by global brands, which are local values and context (Gerr, 1999). Fortunately, because of its proximity to local market, local brands may have more understanding of culture, value, belief, and norm built in market. Local brands can also access cultural capital such as local creativity, taste, and heritage to be able to create its genuine value (Gerr, 1999). Thus, local brands can build its local iconness derived from a deeper understanding of local identity and culture.

In developing its local iconness, local brands should shape their own meaning for market. Gerr (1999) suggests that blindly copying global brands market strategy is not a proper way for local brands because it may be not suitable for market in developing country. Local brands should be able to tap the market with a particular local context. That is why local brands should focus more on diagnosing the condition of their market and using their cultural capital to generate relevant value (Gerr, 1999). This aligns with Kapferer (2002), showing that successful local brands sell their locality value, instead of trying to impersonate global brand.

When local brands have already built their meaningful value through their local iconness, they also develop a genuine source of prestige (Özsomer, 2012). In result, brand prestige can maximize the purchase likelihood of local brands (Özsomer, 2012).

Thus, global arena is not about the matter of size anymore, but more about who can generate better value. And local brands, which have more access to cultural capital, can understand more about its surrounding. By tapping into local creativity, taste, heritage, value, and culture, local brands should deliver more meaningful and personal value to market.

Brodo is such an epitome of local brands power in Indonesia. It has run since 2010 and become a popular local-made shoe brand. What makes Brodo elected as the most creative brand in Indonesia is that it shows the value of local power. It is stated,

“Once you own a Brodo, not only you will own a high quality local made product, but you are also investing in a dream, an idea that us, Indonesian young generations, will always have the better solution.”
Brodo announced price reduction as a sovereign symbol (picture source)

Brodo convinces its consumers that local made can compete and serve the best quality product. To deliver its value, Brodo even designs its shoe soles with batik motif, an Indonesian heritage art. Its design has a meaningful story that wherever its wearer goes, the shoes turn to witness the pride to be Indonesians. Another heroic thing is that since the last national independence day, Brodo claimed to give price reduction because it successfully made the production more efficient. Its price reduction is a symbolic meaning that Indonesia is independent and sovereign, even inflation occurs that day.

What makes Brodo become very successful is its value of locality. It shares the dream of local power and the pride of being Indonesians. The value is not just a marketing gimmick, but it truly taps the creativity and needs in its surrounding. In the end, Brodo has become the prestigious brand with a lot of advocates.

From the theory, research, and case example, I might say that the unique value of local brands, which at the same time is its strength, lies in their origin. That’s why it is important for brands to act locally — to be responsive to the needs, and apply local creativity and culture in the surrounding. The use of cultural capital will make the brands seemed authentic and prestigious.

Hence, instead of trying to mimic one of P&G shampoos or making a similar Kit Kat, local brands should give meaningful value for their market by understanding and going deeper into their origin, culture, and people.

“Why are you so enchanted by this world, when a mine of gold lies within you?” — Rumi


Ger, G. (1999). Localizing in the Global Village: Local Firms Competing in Global Markets. California Management Review, 41(4), pp.64–83.

Kapferer, J. (2002). Is there really no hope for local brands? Journal of Brand Management, 9(3), pp.163–170.

Özsomer, A. (2012). The Interplay Between Global and Local Brands: A Closer Look at Perceived Brand Globalness and Local Iconness. Journal of International Marketing, 20(2), pp.72–95.

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