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Going “Glocal” – How CX Insights Help Global Brands Build Loyalty Across Regions

by Giuseppe Tonolini – Director, Strive Insight

and Jon Weeks Director, Europe

In our continuing effort to grow our global reach, we recently merged with Strive Insight, a London-based firm known for strategic thinking and consulting skills. Our Global Growth blog series features conversations with leaders from Radius and Strive offering their perspective on our Brand Growth Navigator approach. In this post, Giuseppe Tonolini, a Director at Strive, and Jon Weeks, a Director at Radius, discuss how to improve global customer experience, and the importance of stakeholder participation and customer input in building an optimized CX program across markets.

Photos of authors Jon Weeks and Giuseppe Tonolini

How do you approach global Customer Experience research projects?

Jon: My starting point is the diversity of the markets. Even within a country, there are differences, but particularly market-to-market. The challenge is not just talking about a consistent brand or category, but that the competitive context will differ alongside cultural elements affecting customer experience. How a customer experiences a brand in the US versus the UK versus Qatar versus Japan can be hugely different. Until you understand that context, it’s impossible to connect all the elements for our client.

Giuseppe: I agree. Taking differences into account is key. Any global project concerning customer experience involves a combination of Qualitative and Quantitative research. You need equality to understand cultural differences; otherwise, starting with Quantitative alone leads to assumptions and mistakes. Combining qual is key, as is considering different competitive scenarios and cultural sensitivities.


What type of research is most beneficial for driving engagement and loyalty?

Jon: Being able to show a client their customers in the moment, whether the experience is positive, neutral, or negative, brings it to life in a way that PowerPoint slides cannot. I’m a big fan of integrating qualitative outputs because saying an insight from qualitative data is one thing, but actually showing their customers experiencing difficulty or making a choice makes it much more real. Hearing the customer talk about it in their own words and what they took from the experience is central to helping our clients drive change and make decisions that improve their customer experience.

What are ways to find the balance between supporting a global brand and local preferences at the same time?

Jon: One of the things that keeps coming up with clients is what we’ve started calling “glocal.” There is a global team and a global set of expectations for a consistent brand experience worldwide. However, how you activate that and talk to your customers involves local nuances. Your competitive set and cultural experiences differ from one market to the next. It’s about tying these elements together — what must remain global and what can be flexed. For example, tone of voice can become more nuanced for a local audience. You need to consider the local competitive landscape, cultural differences, and how customers in each region experience your brand.

Giuseppe: There has to be a global strategy that is then adapted to different markets. The difficulty lies in convincing local teams to align with the global strategy due to political issues within the client organization. Local markets often feel that global teams don’t understand them. It’s crucial to give necessary importance to local issues in the deployment of results and to involve local stakeholders from the beginning. This means having conversations with local teams early on, ensuring their perspectives are included, and addressing their specific needs and concerns to ensure the strategy resonates on a local level.


How do you guide teams through activation, and set them up to understand the impact of the research in driving elements like brand loyalty?

Jon: When we work with different teams that have varying levels of experience with research, a fundamental aspect of our activation work is making the data understandable and giving stakeholders a means to take ownership. In these sessions, we use qualitative techniques to ask, “Now that you know this, what are you going to do differently?” This helps teams think about their action plans and what the data means for their roles.

For example, the sales team’s actions will differ from the marketing or innovation teams. This approach not only engages them but also gives us a reference point for follow-up discussions. In the next brand tracking wave, we can ask, “You said you were going to do these things differently. What have you done? What’s been implemented? How has that changed?” This keeps them thinking and ensures we stay relevant by listening to their plans and actions.

Giuseppe: Yes, it’s important that the team understands the insights so they will continue to use them. An example from a year ago involved a big tracker for an IT brand with 48 reports across different markets and categories. We had a call with people from all markets and categories to discuss the most important issues in each market. This allowed us to adapt the standard report to be impactful for each market so that the team could continue to reference and benchmark the data and continue to improve their programs.

What are some examples of how brands improve global customer experience?

Jon: One example comes to mind from a recent workshop with a finance client. When different teams from various regions came together, they quickly realized an obvious miss: many of their materials were only in English. It was a moment where everyone simultaneously recognized the need to translate materials into local languages, something that would significantly improve customer experience. This insight, discovered through research and collaboration, highlighted the importance of bringing everyone together.

Giuseppe: The most rewarding experience is when different stakeholders, including external ones like advertising agencies, can act on the research findings. For example, in a study with a fast-serve restaurant chain, stakeholders, including the advertising agency, participated in focus groups. They realized changes needed in the customer experience in their restaurants. Seeing that click of understanding, where stakeholders suddenly know what to do based on research insights, is incredibly satisfying. This doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, it’s the best outcome for a researcher.


What are some examples of how customer insights helped brands take a fresh look at their customer experience?

Jon: Many examples fall into the area of empathy. Clients don’t often don’t have an opportunity to spend much time with end users, particularly in healthcare. When we conduct research on patients’ experiences with treatments or medications, using qualitative methods to show the whole person rather than just a condition can be a big step forward. This helps healthcare companies see the broader impact on patients’ lives. Creating a short film to bring these insights to life can be powerful, as it allows the audience to have a moment of realization about the person behind the condition.

You’ve got to walk a mile in your customers’ shoes to understand them, and it’s only through that sort of experience that you are able to discern what is most important to create those steps and make somebody’s experience better.

Giuseppe: Our principle has always been “insight from everywhere.” We don’t have to focus too much on one methodology, instead, we look at solving the business problem our client has. Talking with consumers is critical, but other times you can get insights online. For example, we studied the driving experience in Rome, where the roads are in terrible condition. Through interviews, we learned about the dangers, especially for motorcyclists, due to potholes. However, it wasn’t until we found a YouTube video showing a motorcyclist’s journey through Rome that the issue truly resonated with the stakeholders. Seeing the problem firsthand from the GoPro on the riders’ helmet helped the team understand the need for a new vehicle design. Insights can come from anywhere, and it’s crucial to combine different sources to solve the problem.

Jon: Our clients have a million things to do in their daily lives. And unfortunately, the challenge that they then face is being able to help themselves and their stakeholders find time to be with their customers. It’s that level of distance that can sometimes impact what they do or don’t understand about their customer experience. When we can have our clients set aside time and bring them closer to their customer, the outcomes are always better, leading to more specific customer experience activation that helps them build connected and loyal customers.


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