Mattel opened its first free-standing Barbie store in China in March 2009 - a giant, 36,000-square-foot edifice in a six-story building on Shanghai's Huaihai Road, one of the most expensive shopping streets in the country. Mattel shut its doors on Mar. 7 this year.
It's easy to dismiss this failure as a stark illustration of ignoring the well-worn dictum: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Creating the right blend of localization and globalization is a much harder task than achieving either complete localization or zero localization. To succeed in dynamic markets such as China and India, managers need to learn rapidly what and how to localize - while avoiding the risk of catastrophic failure from inevitable mistakes.
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