Quote below is from Sarah Britten’s South African Weekly Mail blog, Gondwanaland. She is discussing Australia and Starbucks.
The news last week that Starbucks was to close 61 of its Australian stores with immediate effect — leaving just 23 stores in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane — was greeted with considerable interest beyond the business pages. The American interloper taught a lesson about what it takes to succeed in the land down under: this was more than just a business story, it was about Australian resistance to global hegemony.
Or was it?
What is striking about the Starbucks story is how it reveals the ways in which Australia’s post-World War II wave of immigration has affected its sense of national self. Australians didn’t take to Starbucks, the reasoning goes, because they already know more about coffee – real coffee — than any American could ever teach them.
“With its trademarked frappuccinos and smorgasbord of syrup flavours, the day Starbucks came to Lygon Street was like Scientologists setting up in Vatican City. Sacrilegious.”
Similar things happen in HR software too. Biggish “global” players sometimes come into markets like Australia thinking they are the Bees’ Knees, to quote Kath and Kim. Australians speak English, how hard could it be?
The global player soon finds out that there are local vendors offering neat technology but with the more valuable feature of local market understanding.
In the long run, global vendors only succeed if can help meet local needs. Offering a system in English simply isn’t enough.
For Gartner Clients I explore this in more detail in this report Global Talent Management Isn’t Just Global (G00159366), 22-JUL-2008