Dr. Quelch’s book All Business Is Local: Why Place Matters More Than Ever in a Global, Virtual World is a different spin on the old “buy-local” argument, whereby the argument is that all business is, indeed, local. It might be obvious to anyone that really considers why any business would consider selling product anywhere without understanding how to make their products work for the people, the locals, there. It’s called doing your homework. But, if history is any guide, we can wonder what happened to big league sluggers like Best Buy and Home Depot when they tried to penetrate China’s market using the same model that works back in the good ole’ USA. The big boys, AKA major global companies wielding volcano sized war chests, are only just now apparently starting to get it when it comes to adapting product to local tastes.

Can you believe McDonald’s only just recently put their burger brand pride aside to offer consumers in India a vegetarian alternative (ref: LATimes)! That’s the picture. Quelch goes on to educate readers on how not to make the same mistakes, and how companies can optimize with a local sensibility, while still pursuing lofty goals of global expansion.

To further demonstrate, we emailed Dr. Quelch yesterday (9/5/12) and asked if he would have a few minutes to reply on why large companies, with millions in focus group research dollars take years to figure out this idea of modifying their products to match local demand?

His reply: “There is a perpetual tension between headquarters and the field. Headquarters invariably prefers consistency across markets; it’s easier to manage. But the world is messy. Some adaptation to local preferences and cultural differences is inevitable, even for the most global of brands. But adaptation costs time and money. Tension heats up when field organizations exaggerate inter-market differences to justify their existence or simply to assert their authority. When it’s no longer about the consumer but about internal politics, that’s when the problems start.”

There you have it, let us know what you think about the book, All Business Is Local: Why Place Matters More Than Ever in a Global, Virtual World , co-authored by Dr. John A. Quelch CBE, Distinguished Professor of International Management, Vice President and Dean, CEIBS (located at 699 Hongfeng Road, Pudong, Shanghai, P.R. China, 201206).