Glocal Product Design: a Sustainable Solution for Global Companies in Regional and/or Local Markets

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Bijan Aryana1 and Seyed Javad Zafarmand 2

1 Design Department, Shiraz Municipality, Shiraz, Iran,

2Industrial Design Department, Fine Arts Faculty, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran,


The concept of Globalization highlights macro-micro relationships and is an alternative to the concept of Globalization. Product design and development is one of the areas in which this concept could be applied. In this research, a case study on mobile phones and the Iran market demonstrates that, while there are differences between Iranian users and users in developed countries, the range of mobile phones available in the Iran market is similar to that in global markets. Moreover, a comparison between two global companies shows that including product specifications based on the characteristics of regional markets leads to business advantages. According to these findings, Glocal Design would be a solution for product design and

development in the era of globalization and in this way, new models could be developed in future research.

Keywords: Product Design and Development, Globalization, Glocalization Concept

Globalization as a contemporary issue has been critiqued because of its possibly negative sociocultural effects on local and regional communities. While globalization is a powerful force in the early 21st century, finding an approach to moderate globalization in regional contexts is considered a major issue in many areas such as sociology, management etc.

The concept of Glocalization represents such a moderating approach. The term Glocal, which is a combination of Global and Local, indicates how this concept represents an attempt to find optimal and sustainable solutions to local and/or regional problems in the era globalization.

In addition, products with cutting edge technologies play an important role at this time. Portable digital devices and consumer electronics facilitate communication regardless of their users’ physical locations and create a new digital lifestyle on a global scale. This important role of advanced products and especially consumer electronics in the globalization process shows the importance of this phenomenon, and that related concepts like Glocalization should be considered in product design/development and design research.

This research will, after reviewing the background of Glocalization as seen in different areas, especially sociology focus on product design and development. In the analytical phases of the research, the specific regional market of Iran, user groups and the product domain of mobile phones are studied in order to identify the possible conflicts and problems in current global product design and development. Then two global producers, each with different product design and development strategies, are compared.

This comparison is mainly based on their regional strategies and their success in regional markets. The results of these studies can show the importance of regional contexts and also the advantages or disadvantages of the concept of Glocal product design.

The concept of Glocalization was first created by Japanese companies in the 70s as they planned to expand to different parts of the world by customizing their products to target regional markets. However, the term Glocal as a combination of Local and Global was first coined by famous sociologist Roland Robertson (Robertson 1995). Glocalization has also been known as a sustainable alternative to the process of globalization, as Localization has itself been defined...
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