Marketing today is all about geography, as companies try to appeal to local tastes on a global scale, writes John A. Quelch.
The book:All Business Is Local: Why Place Matters More Than Ever in a Global, Virtual World, by John A. Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz; Portfolio.
The big idea: Remember when "location, location, location" referred exclusively to maximizing foot traffic? Marketing today is all about geography, as companies try to appeal to local tastes on a global scale.
The backstory: For decades, Quelch—now dean of the China Europe International Business School—has contested economist Theodore Levitt's famous argument that technology and other factors were erasing national distinctions.
Where with all:All Business Is Local explains how place plays a role in every kind of business decision. If you run a supermarket, the authors point out, you want to be on the side of the street used by the most homeward-bound commuters. If you have both a physical and a virtual presence, you want pricing in the latter that doesn't discourage visits to the former.
If you read nothing else: Chapter One discusses the emotional resonance of place and consumers' willingness to associate specific locales with quality. (Think Germany and cars, Alaska and salmon.) The authors shrewdly limn the tension between human beings' curiosity about the exotic and their attachment to home.
Rigor rating: 8 (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). The authors draw on a wide swath of academic, journalistic, and corporate sources, including several of their own case studies.
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan