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Pedro Nueno, Professor, IESE Business School, University of Navarra

A good global platform

Thu, 31 May 2012 08:03:01 +0000 Published in The World

McDonalds is an American business with a typical American product, but it is a global business . Surely the strategy of the business is continuously redesigned and adjusted in English. And if someone stops at a McDonalds on the highway from Boston to New York and wants the cheeseburger they better say "with cheese" or "a cheeseburger". But if you are someone going from Marseille to Paris, you better say "avec fromage". If he is in the outskirts of Madrid he will ask for "con queso", but if he goes from Barcelona to Tarragona and says "amb formatge" he will expect to be understood. If a Chinese person buys a BMW, and many do, he will expect the dealer to speak to him in Chinese, although he will value the prestige of the brand and its German origin, which he associates with quality and work well done. In final, the world is becoming more and more global, tastes are becoming internationalized, but when we approach the consumer we better adapt ourselves to him and of course speak to him in his language.

Every day it is more frequent that in the boards of globalized companies we speak in English. So if the headquarters is in Germany, a lot of German will be spoken there, and if it is in France, a lot of French will be spoken there. But as we go down to the market we will have to adapt and speak the language of the market. In this sense, having a huge Spanish-speaking market is an advantage. The bad thing is that, sometimes, to sell that advantage you have to do it in English.

I have no doubt that Spain is an excellent base for a business that wants to conquer the world. We have many companies in different sectors, banking, telecommunications, infrastructure, consumer goods, raw materials, food, components, pharmaceuticals, but also in advanced sectors of knowledge, consultancy service, business schools, engineering, which have reached world leadership levels. We have skilled people, sufficient critical mass in many sectors, good capacity for management, excellent infrastructures, comparatively advantageous costs and efficient and effective logistics. Close to the center of gravity of Europe, the Mediterranean and African markets, with special accessibility to Latin America and excellent examples of success in Asia and North America, there is no doubt that the potential of Spain and from Spain is excellent.

Another thing is that we trust that these things are reflected in the Spain brand or in regional, autonomous or city sub-brands. In our global world it is like in a supermarket, there are fewer and fewer brands on the shelves. If China, India, Brazil appear as brands, while the United States and Germany remain, someone falls off the shelf. The difficult economic status we are going through and our limited political leadership in recent years, have not contributed to defend something like a "Spain brand". Today this brand would not match the quality of companies and institutions such as Zara, Mango, Banco Santander, Telefonica, OHL, Ferrovial, Idom, Técnicas Reunidas, IESE, ESA, IE, CaixaBank, BBVA, Almirall, Puig and many others. We must continue to strive to explain well the "platform" Spain as an ideal place to land in the world for new entrants such as companies from emerging countries that are globalizing and we must be very clear about the advantages for each sector and compared to competing locations. International investment is not driven by brands. And if we simply want tourism, let's improve the connectivity of our airports and solve once and for all the problem of managing visas quickly.