‘Glocalisation’ in the new next


Expectations are that business steps up with renewed energy in assisting the recovery of global economies from the COVID-19 pandemic.  65% of South Africans polled in the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brands and the Coronavirus (March 2020) said the country will not make it through the crisis without business playing a key role in addressing the challenges we face.

In many markets around the world, including South Africa, the trend towards hyper-localisation has been accentuated during the crisis. In place of the globalisation and levels of economic and industrial integration of pre-pandemic times, there is reduced regional collaboration, a mistrust in foreign and international supply chains and a shift in the values of consumers towards community and supporting local.  And this is likely to continue.

In this context, what is the relevance and role of global companies in South Africa’s big ‘rebuild’?

As a leading global provider of premium spirits brands, including Absolut Vodka, Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s Scotch whisky, Jameson Irish whiskey, Beefeater and Inverroche Gins, Pernod Ricard has operated in South Africa for the past 25+ years. We have followed a decentralised model, giving flexibility to our in-country team to adapt to the local demands of our consumers, in so doing, building a strong portfolio of origin brands.  

But with the new eco-system emerging post pandemic, there is a need to critically assess what ‘glocalisation’ now means. The term, first coined by Harvard Business Review in 1980 combines the words ‘globalisation’ and ‘localisation’ and describes a product or service that is developed and distributed globally but is adjusted to accommodate the user or consumer in a local market.

1 Glocalisation has traditionally involved developing culturally friendly media and advertising campaigns to encourage the acceptance of brands amongst local audiences. Global companies have done this well in Africa, with non-African brands accounting for 87% of the top 100 brands on the continent in the Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands survey for 2020.

Out of necessity, there must now be a broader scope for ‘glocalisation’ – one that more sustainably addresses the wider economic, social and cultural needs of the local markets in which global companies are doing business. 

1              Investopedia – March 2020

How can global companies contribute to building South Africa back better?  

We believe there are 4 key imperatives – articulate your purpose; solve – while selling; offer hope and bring people together; and be a respectful guest.

  1. Articulate your purpose

We need to stand for something that’s bigger than just selling a product or service. 72% of South Africans polled by Edelman say that they will forever lose trust in brands and companies placing profits before people during this crisis. The once lofty concept of purpose has gone from being a nice thing to do to being central to company strategy in protecting humanity. In recent years Pernod Ricard has fine-tuned its intent of ‘Bringing Good Times from a Good Place’ – to create a more convivial world, a world without excess.  

  • Solve while selling

Global companies need to be aware of the difficulties facing people in local markets and be sensitive and empathetic towards finding appropriate and meaningful solutions. In South Africa, the consequences of the pandemic have been dire, with research showing that 3 million South Africans lost their jobs in lockdown, and 1.5 million who managed to keep their jobs did not have an income2.

As we move towards a festive season that will undoubtedly be challenging – socially, economically and emotionally – Pernod Ricard South Africa will be ‘gifting different’ by investing in the local economy. We are re-routing festive season spend that has traditionally been spent on imported gifting packs to make a fundamental shift towards supporting local. The Sisonke Mzansi campaign sees our flagship brands standing together with local artists, manufacturers and brand activators to create a range of truly South African ‘gifts that give’.

Through this campaign we created 268 new jobs, helped to sustain a further 220 manufacturing, artisanal, creative and service jobs, benefitting 2550 people in local communities and supporting the alcohol and hospitality sectors hard hit by the pandemic. 

  • Offer hope and bring people together

The basic human need for connecting with others has never been more evident than during the pandemic. As the ‘Creators of Conviviality, Pernod Ricard stands for bringing people together to connect and share in the spirit of conviviality. There is strength in collaboration and helping people recover from this crisis requires joining forces with others.  It’s time to highlight inclusion and the connections that are made, celebrating what we can do by standing together. 

2   Income Dynamics Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey – July 2020

  • Be a respectful guest

As a global company, we are guests in South Africa, no matter how long we’ve been around, we believe it’s our responsibility to support the markets in which we operate, investing in the local economy but also being respectful of its environment and its people.

Pernod Ricard’s Sustainability and Responsibility Roadmap to 2030, Bringing Good Times from a Good Place, outlines four big commitments: nurturing the environment; valuing people; circular making and responsible hosting.

As South Africa emerges from a prolonged alcohol ban during the COVID-19 lockdown we continue to fight alcohol misuse through our industry involvements with Aware!org. We have also entered into a partnership with Springbok Rugby Captain, Siya Kolisi as our corporate brand ambassador for responsible drinking.

In navigating the dynamics of the new next, global companies must revisit ‘glocalisation’ as a concept – in the interests of our sustainability as businesses and the sustainability of South Africa into the future. We have a vital role to play and now is the time to step up and use our resources and creativity to make a difference. 

Gregory Leymarie is the Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Sub-Saharan Africa.

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