Localization is the process of businesses adapting their products and content to specific markets and consumers. This process allows for Western businesses to establish their influence within Asian markets, and for Asian companies to become more competitive internationally. Well-executed localization will ensure a business’ successful integration within foreign markets and the realisation of profit. In order for them to be able to cater to the needs of foreign customers, businesses will need to adapt their products and content to specific markets and their consumers.
The success of online giants such as Alibaba and Rakuten shows us that a successful localization is determined by a great understanding of the culture, language and business practices of the targeted locale. However, there are some major differences between the market structure, languages, cultural traits of Asian and Western countries, which need to be considered in the process of localization. Recognising the different technological standards, banking system and business policies of the targeted locale and adopting specific approaches for the localization of your business will guarantee smooth integration within the new market.
Culture and language
Establishing a business in an Asian market is not an easy venture- you need to face the challenges of labour laws, to develop leadership and establish an efficient company culture. Asian markets present a challenge for international businesses because of their cultural and linguistic specifics, which call for adequate employee training and translation services. It is of vital importance for a business that’s new to the market to maintain a good relationship with the local vendors and partners. Once you have managed to create a good first impression, you can count on the loyalty and responsiveness of your local in-house staff.
For instance, companies such as Alibaba and Rakuten are attempting to create market places in English in order to attract a wider range of customers. Asian companies use single language vendors which allow for the lower cost for engineering and translation. Rakuten has even developed an “Englishnization” strategy for establishing English as the company’s main language.
However, a problem they often encounter is the use of Machine Translation, which is often inaccurate and causes drops in online customers’ traffic and satisfaction rates. There are many differences between Asian and European languages that need to be considered, such as sentence structure, grammar and even the spaces between characters, and those can be a problem if there aren’t enough resources and time invested in Machine Translation.
Another major cultural difference that brands need to beware of is the Asian censorship, which restricts the online access to certain content and products. Therefore, the translation of your products and their introduction into the market must be carefully thought out, in order to accurately convey your brand’s objectives and identity.
Technology and finance
There are certain technological differences that could make establishing a business overseas challenging. Within many of the computers and printing devices, Chinese, Japanese and Korean fonts are missing. Moreover, businesses need to comply with the local standards for the input methods and fonts, which can be quite challenging, provided that there isn’t a standardized terminology created between the countries’ different devices and systems.
Localization = Translation?
Localization has allowed for the translation industry to evolve and develop innovative technology which has revolutionised traditional translation methods. That being said, within the Chinese context, the process of localization goes beyond the translation practices. In order for complex products to be successfully introduced into the market, they need to be adapted in multiple ways, complying with the Chinese’ user interface, different technical environments and even with the calendar differences. For your product to be understood and accepted by foreign consumers, it need to comply with the local standards of quality and functionality, which will prove your enterprise’s productivity.
Both localization and translation need to be taken seriously by businesses determined to break into new, international markets. Working with professional translator who’s got a good understanding of the targeted locale and its consumers will help you immensely. However, other than first-class translation services, businesses need to face the cultural, linguistic and technological challenges, for a smooth integration within Asian markets.