Chapter 50. Think globally, act locally

When Wal-Mart started to open stores abroad in the early 1990s, it offered a little piece of America to foreign consumers—and that was the problem. The retail behemoth promoted golf clubs in soccer-mad Brazil and pushed ice skates in Mexico. It trained its German clerks to smile at customers—who thought they were flirting. Now Wal-Mart is adapting (though not in Germany—the company had to throw in the towel there). Its Chinese stores sell live turtles and snakes and lure shoppers who come on foot or bicycle with free shuttle buses and home delivery for refrigerators and other large items.

As corporations compete in many markets around the world, the debate intensifies regarding the need to develop separate ...

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