Glocalization is a coined word formed from globalization and localization. “Going glocal” is a relatively new business phrase that defines the adaptation of a brand’s product or service specifically to each locality or culture in which it is marketed.

The term first appeared in the late 1980s in articles by Japanese economists in the Harvard Business Review. According to the sociologist Roland Robertson, who is credited with popularizing the term, glocalization, describes the tempering effects of local conditions on global pressures. At a 1997 conference on “Globalization and Indigenous Culture,” Robertson said that glocalization means, “The simultaneity – the co-presence of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies.”

CERFE, an Italian economic and social science research organization for which both authors serve as advisors for Glocal Forum sponsored research, describes glocalism as, “A social process that is especially evident in cities where it consists of the concurrent drives toward globalization and localization.”

It is also seen as, “Diffused social action. . .that can be interpreted as a kind of ideal and cultural movement oriented towards linking the benefits of globalization to local situations, and toward governing globalization also through local situations.”

Where Global & Local Meet

Where global and local forces meet, the needs for institutional change and social adaptation are compelled by technologically enabled global integration, yielding to the pressures to preserve local identity and customs. These pressures are especially evident in the presence of increased cultural diversity and growing economic disparities that have been seen in wide-scale global migrations to major cities.

The United Nations defines a mega-city as a massive urban center of more than ten million people. In 1950, New York was the one mega-city in the world. “By the year 2015 there will be twenty-five mega-cities, nineteen of them in developing countries, and fifteen of them in Asia. In addition to these mega-cities, there will be fifty-nine cities with populations greater than five million, and those crowded, polluted, urban centers will by and large not have the well-developed infrastructures that have sustained today’s major cities” (Thomas Hoog, Hill and Knowlton, First Glocal Forum, Rome, Italy, May 2002).

Mega Cities Will Dominate How We Live & Market

The proportion of our world’s population living in cities of a million or more has risen from thirty-seven percent as recently as 1970 to nearly fifty percent today. By 2030 more than two-thirds of world population will be in large cities. Since for the most part high-speed networks exist only in these cities, when we speak of a networked world, it is essentially a global economy made up of very large, interconnected metropolitan regions (Manuel Castells, The Internet Galaxy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001).

High value-generating services, high-paying jobs, and human development opportunities act as a magnet for migration to these increasingly dense urban centers. They are the focal points for industry clusters and territorial webs of interpersonal networks for resource exchange, collaboration, and learning.

As our global population grows and migrates to mega-cities, brands will need to adapt their message to not only maintain their own identity, but to also customize their products and services to service the unique diversity of local ethnics and customer needs.

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