‘Think locally, grow globally’ – How culture influences change in businesses around the world? Part – 1


In this era of globalization, it has become impossible to stop businesses to move out of their countries and change from domestic companies to multinational companies. In that case, not only the political, economical, technological and legal environment of the company changes but the social aspects of the market changes as well. Therefore, in order to adapt to these changes, it is important for such businesses to change according to their market and specially adapt to their culture. Following are few of the well known companies which changed internally and externally in order to adapt to the culture of their host countries-


Just imagine walking into a McDonald’s outlet while you’re starving for food and realizing after checking out the menu that they don’t serve Mc Aloo Tikki anymore. Depressing right? Well, probably that’s what will happen to you if you’ll visit any McDonald’s restaurant outside of India.

Yes. You got that right. McDonald’s serves Mc Aloo Tikki only in India. In fact, India is the first nation where McDonald’s started to serve vegetarian menu. And why is that?

The answer is simple. India is a country with highest vegetarian population around the world. That’s how the culture of this country is. And in order to adapt to this culture, the company changed its menu.

Furthermore, this is a country where a huge number of Hindus reside. People following this religion consider cow as holy and sacred and this is why they abandon beef. Due to this reason, McDonald’s also abandoned beef. They don’t have beef anywhere in their menu in India. And not just beef; they’ve not included pork in their menu as well. This is because people following Muslim religion do not eat pork and this is also one of the prominent religions in India.

Over the years, McDonald’s have improvised much of its food items in order to make settlements with every country’s taste buds. For example, Big Mac became Maharaja Mac (with Paneer), McLobster in Canada and ‘Ebi Filet-O’ (Shrimp Burger) in Japan. This company is thinking locally and growing globally. Companies such as Starbucks and Barbie are also following this approach. To know more about it, keep reading!


Barbie Dolls has been the most important part of every girl’s childhood (also some boys), specifically the generation that was born in the 90s. Waking up to a twelve inch doll, bathing her, making her over, imagining and re-imaging her life story, involving in role play and finally marrying her away to her imaginary prince. This is not changed even today. However what has changed is the way Barbie looked.

This is how a conventional Barbie looks. However, with changing time and marketing strategies, Barbie has changed too- not just for fashion but for their country.

It’s not difficult to guess the country the Barbie(s) in the pictures above belong to. First one is from India, second from Saudi Arabia, third from China, fourth from Egypt and last from Russia. The emergence of globalization and varied cultures in different countries enforced the company Mattel to come up with differently styled dolls.

For instance, Saudi Arabia didn’t welcome Barbie Dolls well in their country. They linked Barbie Dolls with danger. This is because this toy was standing in opposition to their religious and social grounds. Women of this country follow a very strict dress code. Due to the Islamic law, they are not allowed to expose their hair and body part. The conventional Barbie illustrated the opposite of what is expected from the women of Saudi Arabia. This doll affected their cultural values and hence it was strongly opposed by Arab people.

In response to this, the company came up with an idea. They improvised their product and changed its identity according to the market. They redressed the dolls in the same way as Saudi women do, named her Fulla and changed her skin tone- making her look like Saudi women. This weakened the cultural barrier. In fact, Fulla has been praised as giving Muslim girls a female role model.

This case is a perfect example of how cultural values can affect a business both positively and negatively. People build values, beliefs and perspectives based on their culture. That’s why it’s very important for a business to understand the culture of their market. It is only then they can succeed.


Java Chip, Corn and Cheese Sandwiches, Red Velvet cakes, name tags and there are thousand million other things which reminds us of Starbucks. However, there’s an unnoticed part of this company which remains stuck in our memory traces forever- the lady in the company’s logo. In fact, as soon as we hear of Starbucks the very first picture which starts to draw in our mind is of the lady in the green attire. True isn’t?

This shows how the logo of a company plays a huge role in a company’s image in the consumers’ mind. It is the very first thing through which a customer starts building a connection with the company. This is why logo becomes very important for a company in terms of marketing.

In Saudi Arabia, the original Starbucks logo was criticized for showing too much female flesh. As explained above, Saudi Arabia is a very conservative society which hinders women from exposing any part of their body. Therefore, the logo was against their cultural norms and regulations. In order to maintain its reputation and brand image in that market, Starbucks changed the logo showcasing styled crown over waves as shown in the picture above.

These case studies are evidences of how culture of a market influences a company to change. People are different in different parts of the world. Hence, thinking locally is the only way to grow globally. If a company fails to change according to the culture of a country, it might not succeed. In the past, various businesses which tried to grow beyond boundaries failed due to this reason. To know more about these businesses, follow up the Part 2.