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Customer Needs and Preferences

When customers start to globalize, a firm has little choice but to follow and adapt its business model to accommodate them. Multinationals such as Coca-Cola, GE, and DuPont increasingly insist that their suppliers—from raw material suppliers to advertising agencies to personnel recruitment companies—become more global in their approach and be prepared to serve them whenever and wherever required. Individuals are no different—global travelers insist on consistent worldwide service from airlines, hotel chains, credit card companies, television news, and others.


Just as the globalization of customers compels companies to consider globalizing their business model, so does the globalization of one or more major competitors. A competitor who globalizes early may have a first-mover advantage in emerging markets, greater opportunity to create economies of scale and scope, and an ability to cross-subsidize competitive battles, thereby posing a greater threat in the home market. The global beer market provides a good example of these forces at work. Over the past decade, the beer industry has witnessed significant consolidation, and this trend continued during 2008. On a pro forma basis, beer sales by the top 10 players now total approximately 65% of total global sales, compared to less than 40% at the start of the century. In recent major developments, the division of Scottish and Newcastle’s business between Carlsberg and Heineken was completed during the first half of 2008, while InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch in November 2008. SABMiller and Molson Coors combined their operations in the United States and Puerto Rico on July 1, 2008, to form the new MillerCoors brewing joint venture.

Minicase: Chocolatiers Look to Asia for Growth [2]

Humans first cultivated a taste for chocolate 3,000 years ago, but for India and China this is a more recent phenomenon. Compared to the sweet-toothed Swiss and Brits, both of whom devour about 24 lbs (11 kg) of chocolate per capita annually, Indians consume a paltry 5.8 oz and the Chinese, a mere 3.5 oz (165 g and 99 g, respectively).

Western chocolate makers hungry for growth markets are banking on this to change. According to market researcher Euromonitor International, in the past 5 years, the value of chocolate confectionery sales in China has nearly doubled, to $813.1 million, while sales in India have increased 64%, to $393.8 million. That is a pittance compared to the nearly $35-billion European chocolate market. But while European chocolate sales are growing a mere 1% to 2% annually, sales in the two Asian nations show no sign of slowing.

European chocolatiers are already making their mark in China. The most aggressive is Swiss food giant Nestlé, which has more than doubled its Chinese sales since 2001 to an estimated $91.5 million—still a relatively small amount. It is closing in on Mars, the longtime market leader, whose sales rose 40% during the same period to $96.7 million.

Green Tea Kisses

Nestlé’s Kit Kat bar and other wafer-type chocolates are a big hit with the Chinese, helping the Swiss company swipe market share from Mars. Italy’s Ferrero is another up-and-comer. It has boosted China sales nearly 79% since 2001, to $55.6 million, drawing younger consumers with its Kinder chocolate line, while targeting big spenders with the upscale Ferrero Rocher brand. Indeed, its products are so popular that they have spawned Chinese knockoffs, including a Ferrero Rocher look-alike made by a Chinese company that Ferrero has sued for alleged counterfeiting. Despite those problems, the privately owned Ferrero has steadily gained market share against third-ranked Cadbury Schweppes, whose China sales have risen a modest 26% since 2001, to $58.6 million.

Until now, U.S.-based Hershey has been a relatively small player in China. But the company has adopted ambitious expansion plans, including hooking up with a local partner to step up its distribution and introducing green-tea-flavored Hershey Kisses to appeal to Asian tastes.

Attractively Packaged

Underscoring China’s growing importance, Switzerland’s Barry Callebaut, a big chocolate producer that supplies many leading confectioners, opened a factory near Shanghai to alleviate pressure at a Singapore facility that had been operating at capacity. The company also inaugurated a nearby Chocolate Academy, just 1 month after opening a similar facility in Mumbai, to train local confectioners and pastry chefs in using chocolate.

Unlike China’s chocolate market, India’s is dominated by only two companies: Cadbury, which entered the country 60 years ago and has nearly 60% market share, and Nestlé, which has about 32% market share. The two have prospered by luring consumers with attractively packaged chocolate assortments to replace the traditional dried fruits and sugar confectioneries offered as gifts on Indian holidays, and by offering lower-priced chocolates, including bite-sized candies costing less than 3 cents.

The confectionary companies have been less successful, though, at developing new products adapted to the Indian sweet tooth. In 2005, Nestlé launched a coconut-flavored Munch bar, and Cadbury introduced a dessert called Kalakand Crème, based on a popular local sweet made of chopped nuts and cheese. Both sold poorly and were discontinued.

[1] Gupta, Govindarajan, and Wang (2008), p. 28.

[2] Fishbein (2008, January 17).

1.4 What Is a Global Corporation?

One could argue that a global company must have a presence in all major world markets—Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Others may define globality in terms of how globally a company sources, that is, how far its supply chain reaches across the world. Still other definitions use company size, the makeup of the senior management team, or where and how it finances its operations as their primary criterion.

Gupta, Govindarajan, and Wang suggest we define corporate globality in terms of four dimensions: a company’s market presence, supply base, capital base, and corporate mind-set. [1] The first dimension—the globalization of market presence—refers to the degree the company has globalized its market presence and customer base. Oil and car companies score high on this dimension. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, on the other hand, generates less than 30% of its revenues outside the United States. The second dimension—the globalization of the supply base—hints at the extent to which a company sources from different locations and has located key parts of the supply chain in optimal locations around the world. Caterpillar, for example, serves customer in approximately 200 countries around the world, manufactures in 24 of them, and maintains research and development facilities in nine. The third dimension—globalization of the capital base—measures the degree to which a company has globalized its financial structure. This deals with such issues as on what exchanges the company’s shares are listed, where it attracts operating capital, how it finances growth and acquisitions, where it pays taxes, and how it repatriates profits. The final dimension—globalization of the corporate mind-set—refers to a company’s ability to deal with diverse cultures. GE, Nestlé, and Procter & Gamble are examples of companies with an increasingly global mind-set: businesses are run on a global basis, top management is increasingly international, and new ideas routinely come from all parts of the globe.

In the years to come, the list of truly “global” companies—companies that are global in all four dimensions—is likely to grow dramatically. Global merger and acquisition activity continues to increase as companies around the world combine forces and restructure themselves to become more globally competitive and to capitalize on opportunities in emerging world markets. We have already seen megamergers involving financial services, leisure, food and drink, media, automobile, and telecommunications companies. There are good reasons to believe that the global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) movement is just in its beginning stages—the economics of globalization point to further consolidation in many industries. In Europe, for example, more deregulation and the EU’s move toward a single currency will encourage further M&A activity and corporate restructuring.
[1] Gupta, Govindarajan, and Wang (2008), p. 7

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