Consumers have greater choice and higher expectations than ever before as a result of technological advancement and improved availability of products and services across the globe. Catering to the linguistic, cultural and individual needs of local markets spanning multiple countries is more important than ever before when it comes to building your global brand.
But how do companies make sure that they are promoting a consistent customer experience that embodies the core values and beliefs of the brand, whilst adapting their message to manage in-country perceptions?
A localized user experience is essential for global success.
There is far more to localization than basic translation. Cultural nuances and local values must be considered, and this is best managed by in-country experts. Around 41% of global product developers said that they expected to contract with more third-party localization companies within the next year (Source: 1. Common Sense Advisory).
But does putting your reputation in the hands of local experts fill you with dread?
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Maintaining an element of centralized control but adopting a flexible decentralized attitude to local opinions and beliefs usually represents the ideal balance.
Local level management provides unrivalled in-country expertise and adds a personal touch to help your business deliver a bespoke customer experience; differentiating your brand. Customers don’t want to receive a robotic service. People are individual and subsequently no two employees will ever deliver an identical service, however, this shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing. As long as quality is controlled centrally, either in-house or by a localization agency, you shouldn’t be afraid to be human.
Global integration and brand consistency can be achieved through standardized systems and processes. Translated creative content, design and brand messages should be directed by professional, in-country project managers.
Differentiate by developing a localized opinion
Customer experience matters more than ever before. Companies are faced with the task of differentiating their product or service in a saturated market, where ‘traditional’ angles of differentiation such as identification of unique features, benefits and price positioning are no longer easy to capture or sustain. Added value and buying decisions are now predominantly linked to an emotional affiliation with the product or service being offered.
That being said, companies are required to adapt their brand and advertising to evoke an emotional connection from local buyers. Take hair care brand, Sunsilk. The following advertisement has been adapted for UK, Arabian and Malaysian markets.
Firstly, note the use of colour and consider the psychological impact associated with its application: pink is often attributed to femininity, comfort and gentleness; yellow to cheerfulness, vitality and warmth; and purple to dignity, mystery and spirituality. Can you see how the use of colour can be used to emotionally connect with each of the target audiences above?
Secondly, note the use of language. On the UK Facebook page, the strapline ‘Can you let your hair down’ is unlikely to resonate with the Arabian and Malaysian audience as it is an English phrase used to denote ‘behaving in a free and uninhibited manner’. Perhaps the use of yellow on the Malaysian site is to imply this feeling of frivolity in place of words, and the lack of a playful wording/colour on the Arabian site reflects the culture and religious beliefs associated with the Arabic world.
By developing a detailed understanding of the target market – culture, buying behaviors, demographics, wants, needs and perceptions – a company can deliver a truly local experience. Brand consultants and localization agencies can offer insight and global market analysis to support the end to end transition of your business into foreign domains.
Remember, you cannot impose a desired experience on the end user. It is an intangible element that forms as a result of emotional factors derived from cultural and societal beliefs. Invest in localization, invest in customer experience, and look for ways to harvest and nurture that experience.