Disney Video Case Case Study
Disney employs a variety of approaches to embrace local cultural aspects when entering a new market outside the United States. The first is attracting local professionals like architects, engineers, and set designers. Disney used this method when the company expanded to the Hong Kong market. Indeed, it is nearly impossible to source all the required talent from the US, but according to Disney’s Imagineering Tom Morris, it is beneficial to hire local specialists: “you want to incorporate the local talents. You identify the best people that you can and they become the legacy moving forward for Imagineering based locally in that area” (Global Markets. Disney Imagineering, n.d.). Likewise, from the perspective of global strategic management, involvement of local staff is highly desirable, as these people can provide numerous helpful insights on how to develop a project in a way that would appeal to local customers from a cultural viewpoint (Lane, Maznevski, Dietz, & DiStefano, 2009).
Another example of Disney’s embracement of local culture is also relevant to Hong Kong. It is well known that Chinese culture is very attentive to achieving harmony with the nature. Disney acknowledged that fact, and hired a Feng Shui consultant who helped them with many key decisions and orientations like positioning of hotels, promenade, locations of park and resort with respect to the sea and the hills in the background.
Additional Disney’s rule when adapting its theme parks to local culture is not to assume too much, as market’s expectations can be unexpected. For instance, while one might think that customers in France would be horrified by the American cuisine, preferring to have their indigenous sophisticated dishes served at the local Disneyland, the truth is quite the opposite. According to Morris, French people actually want to have hamburgers and other kinds “grazing food” when spending their leisure at Disneyland (Global Markets. Disney Imagineering, n.d.).
In Japan, Disney increased capacities of their shops, because gift-giving is a major part of Japanese culture. Guest traffic was incredibly high all the time, so Disney had to install more cash registers and more queuing to account for that. There are some simpler traditions in Japan as well. For example, local people are known to have an affinity for taking lots of pictures. Disney recognized that, and made every little detail at the local theme park look unique and special – from railing to a park bench or a mailbox. Finally, in order to keep track of key trends that are relevant to Japanese culture at present time, Disney constantly reviews customer feedback it collects through internet.
However, there is an extent to which Disney adapts its theme parks to preferences of local customers. Maintaining a consistent global brand is also one of the company’s main priorities. Customer feedback, hence, is used to adjust the so-called software: special events and entertainment. Attractions remain universal. As Morris puts it: “events can be timely. Core attractions have to be timeless” (Global Markets. Disney Imagineering, n.d.).
Another rock-solid aspect of Disney is the company values, true for every theme park, regardless of its location. Essentially, Disney brand is about very human traits. Joe Lanzisero of Walt Disney Imagineering describes them as “things that resonate across the human experience” (Global Markets. Disney Imagineering, n.d.). Our stories, fears, and humor is something that translates across all cultures and languages.
Global Markets. Disney Imageneering. [McGraw Hill/Irwin Management]. New York, NY: McGraw Hill/Irwin
Lane, H. W., Maznevski, M. L., DiStefano, J. J., & Dietz, J. (2009). International Management Behavior: Leading with a Global Mindset (6th ed.). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons
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