localised globeLast week, the excellent marketingprofs website (from the US) published an article about international marketing. They said that the most exciting part is that you get to create or adapt your marketing mix to expand into a new country and connect with an entirely new audience.

But it’s not that easy. It’s not like looking up a word in a dictionary and “translating” it into another language. To do it right, the key is to “localise” and better understand the unique qualities of different cultures if you want to appeal to a new audience in a different country. For example:

  • Modifying your product description and what it does, to agree with local preferences, the way Coca-Cola and Fanta do, which means looking at minute issues such as colours and product taste. Some countries prefer something that is sweeter, or less sweet, or fruity.
  • Some multinational companies use different brand names in the US and the UK for the same products: Axe in the US is Lynx in the UK; Mr. Clean in the US is Mr. Proper in the UK, Mars Bar in the UK is Milky Way in the US.

So what is localisation in the context of targeting foreign markets? You have to consider cultural and other differences in the translation process.  For example, some of the images in your brochures or on your website or videos may not be appropriate to the new audience you are chasing.

Localisation is therefore the practice of adapting a product, service, or marketing content to conform to the language, culture, and legal and technical requirements of a country.

There are at least three basic levels of localisation which you might want to follow if your focus is on expanding into a new market in another country:

1. Functional requirements, such as language, currency, local regulations and legal restrictions, weights and measures (metric or imperial) to name but a few.

2. Understanding the local culture in relation to imagery, how people communicate, their sense (or absence) of humour, their habits, religions, preferred/despised colours and so on.

3. Local consumer behaviour, such as how do they buy (cash, on line or credit?), what do people look for and rely on before making a purchase.

researchIn a nutshell, it’s all about research. The more you do, the less will be the mistakes you make in translating what you have to your new audience.

The UK website of Endpoint summarises localisation rather well: “We are all familiar with global brands such as Nike, McDonald’s and Apple – brands that have one set of values to communicate. One vision. One logo. Wherever we travel in this exciting world of ours, their identity is instantly recognisable.  But these companies don’t just wade into a foreign territory without thinking about their impact on the local culture. And the impact of the local culture on them.  In order to maintain their strong branding, they must adopt a localisation strategy to ensure they communicate effectively with their local markets.” Source:  www.endpoint.co.uk

Martin Pollins
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