The chances are that you have many options for buying your daily cappuccino, including a nearby Starbucks. But your decision to go to Starbucks has nothing to do with how many global locations it operates. You're just looking for the best coffee experience, however you define it (by taste, price, service) in your neighbourhood. Starbucks is an international brand that succeeds or fails based on an infinite number of local competitions.
Technology now makes it easier than ever to be everywhere at once, whether through a worldwide physical presence (like McDonald's and Sony) or a virtual global network (like Google and Facebook). But as business leaders focus on the unlimited opportunities of our global age, they risk losing sight of the importance of place - the points at which individual consumers interact with individual brands.
It's easy to forget that consumers never make decisions based on a company's global strategy. From their perspective, all business is local. And the same factors that excite customers in one corner of the world may alienate them elsewhere.