Understanding a Divergent World of Buyer Mindsets and Decisions

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Regional one size fits all approach can hinder global growth with buyers

The ability to implement and execute global growth strategies has become one of the most important jobs of leaders.  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 engage.  You know the regions well – Europe, LATM, Asia-Pacific, etc.

Are leaders though living in a world of assumptions?  A world of stereotypes about different regions in the world?

I come down on the side of saying yes to these two questions.  Saying yes based on my work in the past five years, including the past year of interviewing buyers globally as part of several interesting engagements.  Both B2C and B2B types of engagements.  Qualitatively interviewing business buyers and consumers.

In these various engagements over the past few years, I interviewed a few hundred business buyers in different parts of the world.  I pushed against the assumptions and stereotypes that are common.  Discovering that geographic regions do not play as big a role as you might think in how buyers make choices and decisions.

If not by geographic region, then what provides a deeper understanding of buyer choices and decisions?  It turns out grasping the unique buyer mindsets that can exist in different parts of regions yield the type of insights that can make a difference.  The implications to growth strategies are profound once you go down this path. 

For instance, growth planning around global regions can easily lead to one size fits all approaches. I often hear leaders pronounce that “our strategy for Asia-Pacific is…” and “what we do for Europe is this…” when describing their global growths strategies. 

What I have learned is this – as we have become more global, the need to understand deeper nuances, insights, and mindsets becomes greater. 

What do I mean?  It is important for leaders of global growth to gain insights into clusters of mindsets – even down to a country-by-country level.  A case in point.  In conducting buyer insights research and buyer persona development around global trade, the variety of buyer mindsets towards trade regulations varied significantly within a region.  Buyers in France, Denmark, Greece, and Poland had very parochial and protectionist attitudes towards trade regulations.  Whereby Germany, Netherland, Belgium, Italy, and Norway displayed more open attitudes. 

The implication here is that applying a one-size-fits-all approach to the region of Europe can mean you may be out of alignment with buyer mindsets within different parts of a region. 

Translated more simply – no growth will be happening.

The same can apply to consumer mindsets also.  In a fascinating engagement this past summer on fan engagement in the music world, the degree of differences in mindsets within Asia-Pacific was downright amazing.  Japan stood out as completely different than say Thailand.  Japan consumers were more rooted in family history involvement towards music.  Whereby Thailand was about setting trends and being a part of the latest trends. 

The implication again – if you are in the music industry, the one-size-fits-all approach by region is not going to cut it. 

This makes the job of leaders and branding doubly hard.  But at the same time doubly more exciting.  To accelerate global growth means relying less on assumptions about regions and getting deeper insights into clusters of buyer mindsets.  And how these mindsets translate into choices and decisions.

Buyer insights research and buyer persona development help get to the layers of insights needed to understand not only similarities but divergent goals that drive choices and decisions. 

Without these critical insights, global growth could be a slow slog. 

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