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Feel Indonesia in Various Global Brands

It’s hard to imagine Jakarta without Starbucks, LG and McDonald’s. But there was a time, not so long ago, when none of them had any footing in this country.

The first McDonald’s in Indonesia opened in Jakarta’s Sarinah building in 1991. While initially wildly popular, the Sarinah outlet has seen many ups and downs over the years, including a recent temporary closure. But since it reopened on Feb. 14, the fast-food outlet has been more popular than ever, with the premises often completely packed late into the night.

“It’s always full on the weekend,” said Sukana Jaya, a graphic designer who was meeting up with friends at the restaurant. “But we still want to come here.”

Sukana said a big part of the venue’s attraction was its new decor.

“It’s great. I really love it,” he said. “From the outside, it doesn’t look any different from all the other buildings in this area. But, on the inside, it’s so warm and cozy.”

That feeling of warmth and familiarity is no accident. When the McDonald’s outlet reopened on Valentine’s Day, customers were introduced to a whole new design, one that incorporates elements of Indonesian culture and art.

The two-story restaurant and cafe now features parquet flooring, dark wood panels and elegant glass partitions. The partitions feature an ancient geometric batik pattern, known as kawung . A glass panel on the wall leading to the cashier counter is decked out in Jawa Hokokai batik from Pekalongan, Central Java. Its vibrantly colored motif of butterflies floating over a flower garden brightens the warm and elegant decor.

“We incorporate Indonesian cultural elements into our restaurants’ decor and architectural designs as a show of our appreciation for the local culture,” said Michael Hartono, communications and marketing director of Rekso Nasional Food, the licensee of McDonald’s in Indonesia.

While many people think of McDonald’s as a prime example of American culture invading the rest of the world, part of the reason for the company’s international success is its ability to adapt to the tastes and cultures of different countries. It’s a lesson that applies far beyond fast food.

“There’s no such thing as a real ‘global’ product nowadays,” said Hermawan Kartajaya, a marketing expert and CEO of MarkPlus Consulting, a company that advises international companies looking to do business in Indonesia. “To survive in local markets, all international products have to localize in terms of their content or context.”

Hermawan said one example of McDonald’s adaptability to local markets was the Maharaja Mac, which is served in all of its outlets in India. The burger, made with lamb instead of beef, is a necessity in a country filled with Hindus who believe cows are sacred.

“McDonald’s wouldn’t sell many burgers [in India] if they tried to serve beef,” Hermawan said.

McDonald’s made similar alterations to its menu in Indonesia out of respect for local culture and to appeal to familiar tastes. It doesn’t serve pork, which is forbidden in Islam, and two of its most popular items in Indonesia, fried chicken and rice, are not available in America.

“Brands are like people,” said Yuswohady, chief executive of the MarkPlus Institute of Marketing. “They have their own image and characteristics. Each has a unique relationship with its customers.”

“To survive in the Indonesian market, global products need to maintain an emotional connection with their local customers,” he continued. “They need to localize their products and brand’s identities. I call this ‘glocalization.’?”

McDonald’s has made great efforts to glocalize its famous brand in Indonesia. For example, the facade of the McDonald’s outlet in Boulevard, a tourist area in Manado, North Sulawesi, has been designed to resemble a traditional junk out of respect for the local seafaring culture.

In Kebo Iwa, Denpasar, the outlet includes local architectural design elements, such as a bale bengong (gazebo) and sanggha (small temple) to place offerings to the gods.

But McDonald’s adoption of the local culture goes beyond its restaurants’ facades and interiors.

“Step by step, we’re also substituting all of our imported ingredients with local products,” Michael said.

According to the communications and marketing director, 85 percent of the restaurants’ ingredients, such as rice, eggs, chicken and vegetables, are now sourced locally. It’s a move that helps the company support the local economy as well as cut costs and deliver fresher ingredients.

Another international company going the extra mile to glocalize is South Korean electronics giant LG. The company, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of doing business in Indonesia, said part of the reason for its success here was its extensive customer surveys and market research that allowed it to develop products in line with the needs and wants of local customers.

Based on this research, it launched a new line of LG microwave ovens in December that features settings designed to cook specific Indonesian dishes, such as sate ayam (chicken skewers), bolu kukus (a type of cake) and kolak pisang (braised banana in palm sugar sauce).

“Our aim is not merely to satisfy our customers, but to delight them as well,” said Michael Adisuhanto, head of LG’s home appliance division. “That’s why we work so hard to develop new products that truly fit the needs of Indonesians.”

In collaboration with Yayasan Batik Indonesia (Indonesian Batik Foundation), the company has also applied batik designs to its home appliances. In October 2010, 15 batik artisans from across the country were commissioned by LG to paint batik motifs on the surfaces of 10 refrigerators and washing machines.

The products are officially the first home appliances to feature batik motifs, according to the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI).

“LG is a multinational electronics company,” Michael said. “By applying batik to our home appliances, we show that we also appreciate Indonesian culture.”

Among the 15 batik patterns used on the products were Batik Yogya, Batik Banyumasan (East Java) and Batik Madura.

The washing machines and refrigerators were sold at a private auction in Jakarta in December. Each of the products was sold for approximately two to three times its original price. The proceeds from the auction, totaling Rp 75.5 million ($8,700), were donated to Yayasan Perempuan Untuk Negeri (Women for the Nation Foundation) in Jakarta.

LG is now planning to mass produce the batik-motif washing machines and refrigerators and make them available to the public.

“This is modernization,” said Sri Soedewi Samsi, a batik expert and author of “Teknik dan Ragam Hias Batik Yogya & Solo” (“Techniques and Ornaments of Yogya & Solo Batik”). “Today, we can see batik not only on clothes, but also on home appliances. In my opinion, this is a good way to perpetuate our culture. Culture has to adapt in order to survive in the modern world.”

The famous Starbucks chain of coffeehouses has only been in Indonesia since 2002, when the first outlet opened in Plaza Indonesia. The company, which has more than 17,000 stores in 50 countries, including 92 outlets in Indonesia, has become a global force thanks to its strong brand, but it has also made strong efforts to integrate itself into local communities.

And, like McDonald’s and LG, one of the ways it is doing that here is through the use of batik. The company hired fashion designer Iwet Ramadhan to come up with special uniforms for its baristas using the iconic Indonesian patterns.

“I felt both flattered and challenged,’’ Iwet said. “Starbucks is like the number one coffee shop in the world. I wanted to portray that image in my design.’’

He chose to put Sekar Jagad, the traditional Javanese portrayal of a world map using batik design, onto the black T-shirts worn by Starbucks baristas.

“The motif also signifies the harmonious relationship between Starbucks products and the community,” Iwet said.

The copper-hued motif is featured on a triangular pattern on the shirts’ left sleeve.

‘’At first glance, I didn’t realize it was batik,” said coffee-lover Cynthia Keliat. “But when I finally did, I have to admit, I felt a surge of pride that a big international company like Starbucks would use batik on their uniforms.”

Anthony Cottan, director of food and beverage concepts at Mitra Adi Perkasa, the sole licensee of Starbucks in the country, said they wanted to make sure and put an Indonesian face on the company.

“We want to make sure that Indonesian customers can see that we’re not just some big US company,” he said. “We’re also a company that understands Indonesia.”

Source: The Jakarta Globe

Popularity: 3% [?]

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This post was posted by:

Farah Fitriani - who has posted 389 posts on Good News From Indonesia.

a single young woman full of spirit in making a better Indonesia, Bandung citizen, Law UNPAD'09 student, english teacher and a shopkeeper. you can contact her by mentioning @farafit in twitter or adding farahfitrianifaruq to have a little chitchat via GTalk.

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