UX Advantage: Designing a Global UX
Gina Villavicencio & James Nixon - Gina and James discuss Marriott’s efforts in ensuring their brand isn’t lost across cultures, and how the organization is shifting to a more global perspective and locale-specific user research.
Jared Spool: A few years ago, I had the opportunity of seeing for the first time the receiving end of a localization effort. I was doing a project for SAP, where we were going off, and visiting SAP customers in the United States.
Those of you who ever had the joy of working with SAP are probably well aware that it's a company based in Germany. We were at one client, and the team that I was with, was the documentation team. We were trying to figure out how to better SAP documentation at companies that we're installing.
We are sitting in a briefing with a client in Massachusetts and they were going through their switch over to SAP. One of the folks says, "Well, we've learned something in the switch over and what we've learned is, when you get to German, you've gone too far."
Everybody in the room laughed, like you did. We all laughed but we didn't really know what that meant at the time, and I wrote it down. Later in the day we were sitting in a cube of a guy who's job it was to write reports.
He wrote reports for the company on outstanding credits, number of returns and all the financial things that the company needed. His job was going and taking variables that were stored in the database and putting them in report form. What we learned was that all the variables.
Because they were internal, were not subject to localization, so they were all written in German. Oftentimes, he didn't know what they were. But there was this extensive online help knowledge base, which the team I was with was responsible for. They were very proud of this knowledge base.
They were very excited when he was trying to figure out something and he went into the knowledge base and he's clicking through in the knowledge base, and he's bringing up stuff, and he's clicking on more links, and bringing up stuff. They're glowing. They think this is the best thing ever.
Then suddenly we get to a screen that's fully in German. Bam! The whole thing's in German. He says, "See, when you get to German, you've gone too far," hits the back button and we were gone.
That was the first time I'd ever been on the receiving end of what I've always known was corporate localization. The idea that, "Here we are, an American company. We do everything in English."
Then what we do, our notion of taking something global is pushing it over the wall and sending it to the localizing team. They're going to translate everything they can to what the local country is, and then we're done. That's it.
That's how we treated this notion of building global products for a really long time, but that no longer works. So what we're going to talk about now is what does work. To do that, I've got James Nixon and Gina Villavicencio from Marriott who've done an amazing job. So, James and Gina, come on up.
I was thrilled that the three of us were at a meeting back in January. You guys were talking about what you are doing with your global efforts at Marriott. I think that, from what I saw, you guys are really out in front of what a lot of companies are doing.
Gina Villavicencio: Thank you.
Jared: I'd really like to talk about for a moment some of, if you could share, an accomplishment or two that really highlight what being global means at Marriott.
James Nixon: First and foremost, thank you very much for allowing Gina and I to come and speak to you today about something we're so passionate about, which is digital globalization. We'll share with you a couple of product accomplishments we're pretty happy about that launched more recently.
One that comes to mind this year that we launched to multiple markets, was our ratings and reviews product.
The business imperative behind that is, first, we did some research and we learned that roughly two-thirds of millennials use ratings and reviews before they make a purchase decision when it comes to travel.
Jared: This is what we have up on the screen. This is the ability for people to share their experiences at the hotel.
James: That's right.
Jared: Your own private trip advisor.
James: That's right.
James: You see it down in the bottom right corner on the front image. Essentially, two-thirds of millennials leverage ratings and reviews before making purchase decisions from a travel perspective. We knew that ratings and reviews were important for our search visibility within search engines around the world.
We also knew that Marriott's very well known here in the United States. In some international markets, they can't even pronounce Marriott. We knew that it was very important for those consumers as well.
Because when it comes down to making a decision, in terms of which hotel they want to stay at, they like to see reviews from people like them. For example, if I have children, if I'm a father, I want to see reviews from other fathers or parents to understand if this is a hotel that's friendly for my children.
We took that into account and we tried to figure out how to create a product that would essentially do no harm. We did some testing and understood that ratings and reviews could hurt conversion.
You're giving the opportunity for people to speak about your brand or your own experience. It could hurt unless we have a very strong brand image. We wanted to make sure we didn't erode any of the brand image that we had internationally.
There were a lot of things behind it, not essentially creating it and placing it on our site, but also the operating model behind it in terms of responding to reviews and making sure we curate them and all those things. I'm happy to say we landed on something that worked and is helping to increase our conversion.
Gina: This is an example of a feature that was designed by our domestic team, our headquarters' team in the US. When they put it together, they did conduct comparative analyses of websites that are key in international markets.
What you're looking at is an example of Qunar and Booking.com.
Qunar is one of the largest travel agencies in China, and it's owned by Baidu, which is the biggest search engine. It's an interesting player in that market. Booking.com, we all know who they are. The team created the designs partially with those websites with that in mind.
However, for that feature to be truly globally designed, we have to look at the customers that have less brand awareness of Marriott. Here, in the US, if I say that word Marriott, automatically, you may think of one, two, three words or adjectives that describe Marriott.
Internationally, users don't our brand. If this product was going to be branded Marriott reviews, does it make sense in other markets where they don't know us?
We had to do research in market. We had the funding to go to four different markets,Germany, Mexico, Spain, China. I have an example of what we tested it, because the source of the ratings and reviews, was key.
In China for instance, we tested our reviews and then we tested the local version of TripAdvisor, which is called DaoDao. It was a qualitative AB test. What we found is that source matters, but not as much as the rating coming from people “like me.”
It was a key piece of information that those designs needed to convey. which was if I'm a reward member,in China, tell me “the ratings in from a silver member, like me.”
I was very pleased with the outcome of this project. We were able to domestically design it but internationally validate it, so that was a pretty cool story.
James: Do you want another example?
Jared: Sure, yeah.
James: Another example we're pretty proud of is the integration work that we done with WeChat. You guys are familiar with WeChat? That's good. I'm happy that many are familiar with WeChat. WeChat is definitely a force to reckon with. Please, once you leave here, take an action item to look it up.
WeChat essentially is WhatsApp meets PayPal meets everything else in China. It has roughly 549 million monthly active users. I believe that's 150 million less than Facebook Messenger. There's about a billion registered users.
Most of those users are Chinese. If you want to do business with them, that's probably a platform that you want to be on. It's only been out four years and already has a billion registered users.
Jared: I learned a bit about WeChat. It's this crazy platform. It's a text platform where people talk to each other.
James: That's right.
Jared: For instance, if you go to some local market, a farmer's market, you can pay the farmer with WeChat. You can send money over the text platform.
James: That's right. WeChat started out In China, Now, they've been expanding internationally and we've been interacting with them a lot, especially since Chinese consumers have been traveling so much, given the rise in the middle class.
However, WeChat did start out as a very basic platform in terms of accepting text, photos, videos, and voice. It was really cool. It expanded like they do in mini markets there.
Now you can pay everyday expenses like taxi cab rides, bills, invoices, so it makes sense at some point that you will also be able to pay for hotel stays and things like that or any products and services you guys have for your companies that are here.
We've been working a lot with WeChat in market in figuring out how to integrate it into our platform.
Gina: By the way, if you're downloading the English version of the app, it only has two features compared to the Chinese version. The Chinese version is an ecosystem of apps within an app. It's really, really interesting.
What I'm proud of is the way we worked with the regions in this particular project. This is the first time that the region is leading an initiative. In this case, WeChat platform and we're learning from them. It's awesome. We think that WeChat is what Facebook is going to be in a few years and this is an opportunity for us, the US, to learn about this huge platform. It's a very strategic way of looking at product development and design.
Jared: Snapchat already built in an e-commerce transfer mechanism. Facebook Messenger, there's been rumors of that for a while, this merger of moving money and moving text. WeChat is already there. What you're doing is you're experimenting in China with this platform as I understand it.
What you're learning there is going to be really useful. Your global efforts, it's the inverse of that SAP story I told where all the work was being done in Germany and then they localize it here. You guys are using that environment to learn stuff that's going to be the future.
James: I mean, when you think about it from a global perspective, it make sense. There's different markets around the world that are known for different things. In China, mobile, the mobile platform is equal or even more important than Web.
It behooves you if you really want to think forward and move forward from a design perspective or product perspective to make sure that you're learning from Chinese consumers. You best believe that's going to make its way into the United States and the rest of the world shortly after.
Karen McGrane: Let me follow up on your point about the region's leading. Can you talk about where does globalization sit in your organization? How do you think about structuring an organization to be global?
James: Sure. Thank you very much. Global, first and foremost, starts with our CEO Arne Sorenson. A significant portion of our growth over the future is going to be coming from international markets.
Arne strategically created an operating model that will support capturing that growth. Several years ago when he took over the helm, his first order business was to decentralize our company and to create regional structure where we have presidents in different regions.
He also created a mandate within our HQ organization to support their growth. Our brand team, for example, focuses on globalization of our brand. Our development team focuses on pipeline.
We, the digital globalization team, focus on creating relevant digital product and experience with our consumers around the world. More specifically about our team, I oversee the team and I report to the SVP of digital.
Our team sits at the core three priorities for our company which are global growth, digital, as well as millennials. We are both a horizontal and a vertical. Horizontal in a sense that we're the center of excellence that captures information from around the world.
Disseminates it to appropriate individuals within our organization. We're also a vertical in a sense that we build products and solutions that are global in nature across our mobile and Web experiences, but also localized products and services such as WeChat with some of the stuff that we're doing there.
Finally, in terms of thinking about change and some of the things that we've been going through within our organization, how globalization is changing. I think about a paradigm has three different dynamics which are people, process, and technology.
Specifically about technology, we will always think globally but act locally. We have done this to an intelligent decentralization approach where we centralize a lot of core functions that need scale. Our booking path for example is a great example of that. That doesn't mean localization aspects.
But we essentially can centralize it and push it out there at a large scale across organization. However, there's things that we also decentralize which are things such as WeChat example we were talking about or some of the local marketing efforts we need.
Quite frankly, they need people on the ground to manage that. Regarding people, the people side of the house is that as we continue to grow, the people in region will continue to grow as well. We need them to support our growth. We will grow at HQ as well, but mostly we're focused on scale there.
We need people in region. It's interesting, you would think that will be the same positions in each region. They differ a little bit based on the need. An example of that is in Asian markets. The language is a little more difficult.
As well as the Middle East with the double-byte character set, right to left. We need some additional resources from a language perspective to make sure that we are as relevant to consumers as possible in those particular regions.
Finally from a process perspective, process connects people to technologies. At the end of the day, it's about making sure that we have robust processes that allow us to continue to grow as we continue to grow in our markets.
Gina: The way that UX is structured...
Gina: Given the product is structured as a vertical and a horizontal, the user experience team is also structured that way. We have UX leads that support each of the product lines. We also have a horizontal UX team which is our standards team.
It's lead by Mark Privet who's in the audience today sitting over there. Thank you, Mark, for your support, always. My team, the global UX team, which is a vertical and a horizontal.
Vertical because it supports the agile team, James' agile team, and also a horizontal because we work across the different product lines [inaudible 15:59] . My team is accountable for global UX. Each one of the UX leads are responsible for it as well.
My goal is that everyone in UX is accountable for global UX. Not just responsible but it's becomes part of their DNA. The moment that happens, my role may evolve into something else or may go away. That would be a huge win for Marriott Digital.
Jared: That would be a fundamental shift from this thing where it's like, "Oh yeah, we got to think about global" to taking it into account from the very beginning of any new idea or retrofit or redesign.
Gina: Absolutely. It's a struggle. We try and we're still learning. Having people like Mark in the team that also has a global mindset is helpful.
Karen: Can you say more maybe follow-up on the localized prototypes about how you managed the competing poll of centralization and decentralization? How do you think about that? How do you get the local teams involved?
Jared: We have a picture.
Karen: We do. We have a picture.
Gina: We do. Great. The UX role right now, our whole practice is centralized. Right now we don't have plans to decentralize the UX function. What we're waiting for is to understand how some of the new roles in the regions are playing out. In China, we have a new product role.
We want to see whether that role is effective. We're allowing now authorship of content in the region. We want to see whether that's effective. If things like that continue to progress from a regional perspective, then we'll rethink whether UX should continue to be centralized.
Also, we're looking very closely to user behavior trends that are happening in the market. That may also cause us to switch gears in terms of our structure. You look at a company, a product like WeChat. It's completely changing the way that people behave with their mobile devices. We have to keep an eye on that.
Jared: Say a little bit more about the localized content effort. How is that different than what you've had in the past?
Gina: Do you want to speak to that? The authorship of companies, what we've been doing on the hotel websites. We're allowing the regions to have more control, the type of content that we have in that product.
Jared: That's huge.
James: We're essentially figuring out an operating model that would empower the regions to have more control of their own destiny.
We've done a number of things in terms of localizing our home pages, in terms of our photography, the different marketing deals, as she mentioned on our hotel information pages we call hotel websites internally.
We have started to open up a number of fields or regions that could focus on localizing hotel level content. We're going to continue to move in that direction because In order for the regions to grow, they need to have control of our platform in a smart way.
Jared: By moving or giving the regions some more control of their destiny, that feels like it's a big cultural shift in the US, possibly even more of a cultural shift for the US side than for the regional side. I assume that that shift has to happen slowly in the organization.
Could you say some of the obstacles you've overcome already and how you managed to pull that off? It feels to me like once you start that ball rolling, it can start to pick up steam.
James: That is a great question. The globalization is definitely a marathon not a sprint. You need to have the support from the senior leadership at the top in order to make sure that it goes so effectively. The main obstacle that we've been having is fear.
Fear of what can happen, what if, loss of control in terms of our experiencing, and our brand as well which is a very valid fear in terms of how we're representing our brand and making sure that's accurate wherever it is.
What we've done quite frankly is we've picked off a number of areas that were important in terms of helping our regions continue to move forward. We've either conducted research like our example where we talked about ratings and reviews.
And our ability to be able to manage that on a global scale. Or we've created business cases. Or we tested things and we tried it out. Fortunately, I have a lot of flexibility working with the regional markets.
We've been able to partner with them and do some intelligent experimentation and figure out and then prove to everyone like, "This can work. This does work. Look at the metrics.
Look at what's happened. Let's figure out how to formalize this and essentially scale it so that we can do this across our infrastructure. Let's continue to monitor and see what happens."
Karen: Can you talk about how you get executive support for these initiatives? I'm really curious to how do you get funding? Is it coming centrally? Is it supported by the regions? How do you get buy-in?
James: Marriott has a very interesting funding model. I'm sure many other organizations do as well. Our funding comes from a number of areas, both headquarters and the regions.
One of my team's job is responsible for getting headquarters and the regions to align on our priorities for the following year. The better we do at getting them to align which is not necessarily an easy task, the more likely it is that we'll receive the funding for whatever initiatives we're trying to push.
Gina: James is completely understating how critical and key those conversations are. His team has done an amazing job bringing all the people together and getting them all to agree to spend a lot of money and that is beneficial for everyone.
James: The reason they're doing is because we're able to show impact that we've made.
Karen: Let me follow-up on that. How do they know if it's working or how are they measuring the success?
James: Globalization, a lot of it is with education. You need to help people understand how to think about different things. A lot of it is different in the way they look at it. They keep looking at things. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
You have to get them to open up their frame of reference for how they look at the situation in order to understand if it's truly working or not.
I think about three different buckets when we come to measuring impact.
The first bucket is the core metrics that we look at from a digital organization perspective and how all the efforts we do ratchet in those metrics. The second bucket has to do with adoption of digital globalization across digital team.
The third bucket we look at has to do with strategic bets that we place in market. Speaking to the first one which of the core metrics, Marriott, our digital strategy is very simple. It's to win the booking and win the stay.
Win the booking means Marriott.com, our mobile app, any of our experiences, we want consumers to book with us. Ratings and reviews is a great example of that, trying to win the booking. Show them reviews like me so I'll be more likely to book. That's great.
We do a ton of things around that on our experiences. The second piece, win the stay really is, when you're at our property, it's really tech and touch. Things like mobile check-in and mobile check-out.
Service request which we recently launched allows you to order things while you're hanging out by the pool or wherever you want to be enjoying our hotel. We're piloting things such as opening the door with your phone. The phone is a key.
In some of our hotels like the Edition in Miami which I went to, we have Netflix and other streaming things in there. Essentially, it's creating these digital touch points throughout our hotel experience to improve guest experience. All of these things are connected with the theme of personalization.
That's really what makes it stick. We have a number of metrics that are associated with that such as in growing our room nights. That has to do with booking, the win the booking. Win the stay has a number of things like satisfaction scores and a number of other metrics associated with that.
Internationally, we're much smaller than domestic in terms of our pipeline. Those metrics, although small, we have to show that there's large growth rates.
In terms of adoption, second one, as I said, we're a horizontal and we're a vertical. We're a horizontal in the sense that we're center of excellence that collects research and information and disseminates it to our organization. It's not enough to give people things. We also need them to use it.
The more that people adopt best practices that we have from a global perspective, the better our experiences will be for our customers. We have to ensure that our adoption rate continues to go up. Gina spends an ample portion of her time focused on this adoption which largely has to do with education.
I'd be honest. People are scared of what they don't know. Gina does a great job at helping to distill the information and taking it not from the theoretical but using the local prototype program to make it into an actual practical solution that people can understand.
She'll probably talk more about this. There's an 80/20 rule with globalization. 80 percent of the things are the same around the world. 20 percent of the things are localized. It's very basic.
The third thing in terms of strategic bets. Our group is essentially an incubator. We have a number of different strategic projects that we run around the world. One example is WeChat. WeChat which started off as a messaging platform probably didn't have as much implications for Marriott at that point.
Now that it has more of this payment functionality and all these other services, these start to tie into a lot of the things that we offer as a company and a lot of the things that we could connect to.
We make sure that we're strategically placed in a number of international markets on this type of platforms to ensure that once these platforms get attraction that they'll also be able to start contributing to our common metrics that I talked about in the first bucket.
Jared: While we were talking earlier, Gina, you mentioned that you guys have come up with some really creative ways to keep global top of mind for people who are working on the vertical part of the designs. Can you talk about some of the initiatives you've been putting into play to...?
Gina: Sure. I'll be happy to. Global UX, what we're trying to accomplish there is to provide the most relevant and personalized user experience for our global users regardless of location, language, and digital touch point.
In order to accomplish that, we have several initiatives. The first one that I'd like to mention is on the product strategy perspective. That's one where our mandate is to be able to influence the product decisions not just for our international websites or apps.
But our domestic product as well as impact the platform, the Marriott platform that powers all of our digital experiences...
Jared: Can you give an example of a way that it impacts domestic platform?
Gina: Let me tell you a little bit about the prototypes and then I'll tell you how that impacts it. What we were able to do about a year-and-a-half ago was start these three localization prototypes. They're all responsive in key international markets.
We were working with regional design agencies. We were working with our regional teams. All these things are new, were new to us, to the UX team and it made a lot of people nervous. because what if the Chinese website needs to look completely different than dot com. Is that scalable? That would be really expensive. We had set out to do it anyway as the output The output of this exercise is what's different in content, features, functionality, Looking at the three across so that product by product line. Now we can say, "Hey, home page team, this is what we mean. This is what the research said. This is how you might approach it."
With regard to the example, there are specific enhancements within our search form for instance. In our Chinese and our Japanese search forms, if you go to our domains, if you compare it to dot com, you're going to see differences in the search form. That's because we were able to inform with research and design the local team.
That's a practical way of infusing global UX into the team.
The other one, and I'm really excited about this one is the work that we're doing with our standards team, so with Mark. Why is standard so important?
Because as we continue to work with agencies domestically but we increasingly work with agencies in international markets, we need to ensure quality, consistency, and create exceptions when we have to.
The work that he and I are doing right now is super, super important. By definition, we've defined that a standard is not a standard if it has not been validated globally. Internationally, we have to go in front of users and understand whether our standards make sense.
I'll give you a specific example. Icons. Our standards take a core set of icons. Let's say favorite, a heart. Here, pretty much you can make the connection. The user could look at a heart and make the connection that it's my favorite thing or the most searched whatever it is.
Internationally, can we say that that's a standard internationally as well? Is a heart culturally relevant? Do we have to have the heart alone or the little icon alone or do we have to have a label to it to help with the interpretation? Those are the exercises that we're doing right now with the standards team.
Jared: When you do that with the standards...Is your goal to end up with one standard that works everywhere or a set of rules that says, when you're in China, you don't use the heart, you use something else?
Gina: The goal is to show the most relevant element to the audience. What I was going to say about standards is this is something new that we've been working on this year. Mark and I are going to be tied at the hip next year. I don't know if he will like that. It's pretty important work that we're doing in that regard. We're really excited about that.
Jared: We're going to take some questions here. Steve, over here, has a question. After that, Xihang? I didn't say that right. You're back there...get you mic. Steve, you go first here.
Steve: I have question for both of you, guys. Marriott is one of those companies that has the unique situation where your customers are, by definition, from a different place where the hotels are, which is different than a lot of us over here. How do you guys approach globalization?
Is it from where the customer sits normally or when they're traveling internationally? Is it from where the hotel is?
James: We look at globalization from a source market perspective, so where the customer is and they're leaving. When we have our different experiences, first and foremost, we have a road map that we've identified a number of languages.
A number of markets that we need to support which is tied to, if you look at it from a source market perspective which is tied to, looks at language, technology, looks at our pipeline in terms of our growth, we want to make sure we have over 90 percent of the languages covered from worldwide perspective.
We look at it there. We build a lot of our solutions from that perspective to support customers. Gina, you have anything to add?
Gina: I was going to say that if you think a market like Brazil for us for instance, we have four hotels there. Most of the business that we get from there is people traveling from Brazil to the US.
And right now, we have a white label solution for that market. A key form of designing for them would be once we get them on platform is to allow them to pay , in Brazil for instance, you have a different way of payment. They all pay with in installments like they are used to. It's a very different way of transacting than people in the US.
Gina: It's like a reverse layaway.
James: It's like layaway on steroids and dating myself again. I would got Kmart, dating myself again. It needs to pay for things. When you're done, like installment is interesting. In Brazil, it's layaway but you don't have to pay completely off before you get it.
You could start paying now, pick it up midway, keep paying afterwards. It's not just an economic thing. Layaway, at least in the US, I grew up in more of a middle class, lower middle class so we did a lot of layaway coupon, stuff like that. I got a sense, some of my friends didn't have to worry about that
People like to fly helicopters in Brazil because they don't feel like dealing with the traffic. They use installments as well. You have women buying Prada shoes on installment.
Gina: It's the way that they transact.
Jared: They're letting the payments up over time.
James: The banking system supports it. It's a nightmare from an accounting perspective. A lot of American companies going down there. Quite frankly, this is how the culture transacts.
We did an entire study on payments and how people pay, what they pay with, when they choose to pay, all these things differ by market. Some of the things we're focusing on now is the most important portion of commerce and e-commerce is the payment. We're focusing our efforts on dealing with that.
Jared: How much of your work is educating the rest of Marriott on things like how crazy payments can get around the world?
James: Things like payment, that took us about a year to do, to convince the organization that this was important.
I would say over 50 percent of what I do is around education, is helping people understand and interpreting what we've seen and why this is important to them because people don't care unless it's important to them. Why is this important to you?
A significant portion of our, I don't want to say how much, but a significant portion of our room nights booked on dot com or US platform which is our global site essentially. It's our global site. A significant portion and growing every year are from customers outside of the United States.
Jared: This is becoming more and more relevant.
Gina: It is.
Jared: Where is Chris Hobart? There. We're going to Xi first and then back to Chris. Did I get your name right? I'm sorry.
Xi: It's OK. It's Xi, X-I. It's tricky, but it's all right. Thanks for trying.
Jared: You have my permission to pronounce me Shared...
Xi: I think my English might be better than your Chinese.
Xi: Thank you very much.
Xi: You're welcome. I only posted one question on the portal. Is that OK that I ask two?
Jared: Yes. You earned that for me mispronouncing your name.
Xi: Thank you, parents. My first question is that when...It's a hypothetical question for you guys. If upper management don't want to go local, how do we accommodate our global users?
My second question is that, earlier in the conversation, James, you mentioned about making the team to adopt the idea of globalization. Can you elaborate on the steps that you took?
James: Sure. To clarify your first question, if senior management doesn't want support going local, does that mean creating teams in regions or what do you mean specifically?
Xi: We do have teams in different regions globally but it's mostly sales force. It's not the support that we have for our product. We do B2B network security. It's really intricate products. We don't have a lot of support team elsewhere.
Only the sales force and sales engineers are in global countries. Our main customer support are in the US.
James: You're talking about resourcing and marketing...
Jared: What obstacles did you have to overcome to make this happen at Marriott?
James: That's a great question. Keep in mind, again, globalization is a marathon, not a sprint, what I would try to do in your case is I would try to identify temporary resources or agencies or different resources I could work with in market.
It may not be full-time resources, but resources that I can get to try to run some type of pilot or experiment to prove from a business case perspective that by having this person on the ground, we are able to grow something by times X that we normally wouldn't be able to do.
Try to do that at least one or two markets to prove that this is needed on the ground in order for us to be very successful. That's how we approach things today. It's helped. You first have to get that initial support and some funding in order to be able to do that. How you do that, you may have to get creative.
The second question you asked was specifically around...I apologize...
James: How the steps I've taken to get...
Xi: For adaptation?
James: That's a part of it, is to prove a case in a number of markets. Some of the things you can do, and some things may not even require resource being there. You may be able to do some experiments like for WeChat for example, start an account in China and manage that from the US.
Improve, show a business case on what you're able to do because I have this here. You could say, "Well, I've been doing this in my free time in the evening. It's best if we had someone to sit there and manage this on a regular basis."
Those are the type of things that we've done. Did I answer your question?
Xi: I think you did.
Jared: We're going to go to Chris here.
Chris: Hi. Thanks for the conversation. James, you mentioned that you desire for the regional sub sufficiency. One of the things you measure is adoption. When you're going through the globalization process, Gina, you've mentioned sometimes using data to say this data worked in this region, this did not.
Assuming there's experience or situations where you can't test everything, where you experience resistance to, "That template doesn't work in my region," those type of questions.
How do you handle that if you don't have the budget and funding to test everything or it doesn't align from a priority perspective to test that in this timeline?
James: Who would be pushing back, the region or headquarters?
James: The region. That's a great question. Your point is if you don't have money to test everything or prove everything, how do you get the region to buy-in and support what you're doing? That's a great question. Originally, we didn't have that. We had to build that.
Honestly, the way that we got around that is we have to prove ourselves. When I started, the people in China thought that Chinese people were from Mars and people from everywhere else come from Venus. We had to do everything completely different to support China.
There's a lot of things that are unique about that market which are fantastic. At the end of the day, people are people and there's a lot more things we do that are common.
The prototyping project that Gina talked about was our ability to do research at market and then to design and experience and test that experience with Chinese consumers. Through that, we were able to say, "Well, look, these are similar things that we do in the United States."
Through that educational exercise both at headquarters and the region, we were able to understand the differences and similarities. Through that exercise, we also built the trust in the region.
After we started to launch things, we showed the results. Now, the regions are like, "Hey, you know what you guys are doing. Go ahead and do it."
Chris: Thank you.
Jared: This has been fantastic. Thank you so much.
Gina: You're welcome. Thank you for having us.
James: Not a problem. Thank you for having us.
Gina: Thank you, everyone.
Posted October 27, 2015