The process of localization generally refers to the adaptation of a product to suit a specific culture and its market. Localization and translation are part of the bigger process of globalization, which plans the integration of a product within a culturally specific market, in order to smooth out the interaction and reduce costs. Well-executed localization lays at the foundation of every business that wishes to expand into foreign markets. For it to be effective, however, practitioners need to be familiar with the characteristics of the targeted culture and the possible challenges which could prevent the business from expanding globally.
An important but often overlooked aspect of the localization process is recognizing the needs of the international audience and responding to them accordingly by adapting the offered product.
As Dr. Nitish Singh has noted, at its core, localization is simply the adaptation of market offerings to meet the expectations of the end-consumer. Those expectations are a deciding factor in how you choose to bridge the language barriers and refine your brand’s image. Researching the foreign culture’s societal codes and values such as political climate, cultural symbols, relationships, and religion will allow you to figure out the best way in which your business can successfully expand into the market. Moreover, a good understanding of the local consumers’ viewing habits is crucial for the distribution of advertising and marketing materials – knowing where your targeted customers get their news from, which are the websites they frequently visit, and how much time they spend on their phones will allow you to increase brand awareness across the most popular media channels.
An example of a successful localization strategy is Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” advertising campaign.
By branding the drink’s bottles with popular first names, the company’s advertising campaign achieved global success and improved the brand’s global reputation. However, when localizing the advertising campaign for the Chinese market, Coca-Cola decided to label the bottles with nicknames instead, taking into consideration the formal significance of first names within the Chinese culture. This is a great example of the important role cultural understanding plays in developing a good localization strategy, ensuring there are no potential conflicts between the brand’s product and a locale’s values and traditions. Being culturally-conscious and making an effort to not only respect but learn about those consumers’ traditions and history, will protect the company from negative press and future controversies. Moreover, it will contribute to improved communication between the company’s representatives and foreign investors, which is of vital importance for the future development of business relations.
Understanding the new market’s culture will not only allow for a successful advertising campaign, but it will also be beneficial in establishing long-term relationships with customers, shareholders, new investors.
It has been proven that international customers greatly value products which have been adapted to fit their culture and language, and are much more likely to become customers loyal to the brand. Moreover, another way towards a seamless product integration is to study how other international brands have introduced their product to this particular market, learn from their mistakes, and take note of their successes. It is helpful to be familiar with what barriers of entry into the market exist, in order to develop the best strategy on how to overcome them in the most cost-efficient way.
Whether it refers to the adaptation of graphics, the adoption of local currencies, or the recognition of cultural specifics, localization requires practitioners to have a good understanding of the foreign market’s cultural, historical, and linguistic heritage.
With their own traditions, religions, and beliefs, there are no two geographical locations that offer the same conditions for localization and cultural adaptation. It is no surprise, therefore, that this process can prove quite challenging and overwhelming, especially if you are trying to manage multiple different aspects of your business at the same time. In this case, consider the services of professional linguists and translators, who have the necessary knowledge and understanding of what proper cultural integration looks like. Aided by their expertise, you can be confident that your interactions with foreign customers and investors will take place smoothly and that your business will reap the benefits of the new market and the opportunities it provides.