Understand a divergent world of buyer mindsets and decisions

A regionally consistent approach can hinder global growth among buyers

The ability to implement and execute global growth strategies has become one of the most important executive responsibilities. A common approach is to apply strategies to different geographic regions of the world. Slightly modifying based on assumed cultural aspects of how buyers and customers interact. They know the regions well – Europe, LATM, Asia Pacific, etc.

Do leaders live in a world of assumptions? A world full of clichés about different regions of the world?

I come to the page answering yes to both of these questions. Saying yes based on my work over the past five years including the last year interviewing buyers worldwide on several interesting engagements. Both B2C and B2B types of engagements. Qualitative survey of buyers and consumers.

In these various engagements over the past few years, I have interviewed a few hundred corporate buyers in different parts of the world. I resisted the common assumptions and clichés. Discover that geographic regions don’t matter as much as you might think when it comes to how shoppers make decisions.

If not by geographic region, then what provides a deeper understanding of purchasing choices and decisions? It turns out that understanding the unique buyer mentality that can exist in different parts of the region provides the kind of insights that can make a difference. The implications for growth strategies are profound once you embark on this path.

For example, growth planning for global regions can easily result in one-size-fits-all approaches. I often hear executives say that “our strategy for Asia Pacific…” and “what we’re doing for Europe is…” when describing their global growth strategies.

What I’ve learned is that the more global we become, the greater the need to understand deeper nuances, insights and ways of thinking.

What I mean? It is important for global growth leaders to gain insight into clusters of mindsets – even down to the individual country level. A good example of this. In conducting research on buyer insights and buyer persona development around global trade, buyer attitudes towards trade regulations varied widely within a region. Buyers in France, Denmark, Greece and Poland had very limited and protectionist attitudes towards trade regulations. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Norway showed a more open attitude.

The implication here is that applying a one-size-fits-all approach to the Europe region may mean you may not align with the mindset of shoppers in different parts of a region.

Simply translated – there is no growth.

The same can also apply to consumer mindsets. In a fascinating dig last summer about fan engagement in the music world, the magnitude of the differences in mindsets across the Asia-Pacific region was nothing short of astounding. Japan stood out as completely different from Thailand, for example. Japanese consumers were more deeply rooted in family histories with music. In Thailand it was all about setting trends and being part of the latest trends.

The implication again – if you’re in the music industry, the one-size-fits-all approach by region won’t cut it.

This makes the job of executives and branding doubly difficult. But at the same time twice as exciting. To accelerate global growth, you need to rely less on assumptions about regions and gain deeper insights into clusters of buyer mentalities. And how those mindsets translate into choices and decisions.

Exploring buyer insights and developing buyer personas helps uncover the layers of insights needed to understand not just similarities, but divergent goals that drive choices and decisions.

Without these critical insights, global growth could be slow.


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