You’re likely already familiar with localization, which is defined as adapting an existing piece of content to make it understandable in a specific language and culture. Transcreation, on the other hand, is the process by which a product or advertising message is completely adapted for the target market, while still retaining the original intent. This requires a particularly creative approach, in order to truly resonate with international consumers.
In an earlier blog post, we shared a clever example of transcreation that highlighted Swedish car manufacturer Saab’s approach to advertising its line of convertibles back in the 1990s. The ad in the U.S. posed the comparison: “Saab vs. Oxygen bars,” since these trendy bars were popular in America at the time. When Saab “transcreated” the advertisement for potential customers in their home country of Sweden, the ad instead read: “Saab vs. Claustrophobia.” Despite that claustrophobia and oxygen bars conjure different images, you can see how the message is the same in each case: Saab convertibles offer fresh air and wide, open spaces. With transcreation, the literal meaning was changed for different markets, but the same messaging goal was achieved. Transcreation is particularly useful in addressing marketing challenges like these, with cultural-specific references or wordplay that are too difficult to translate directly into different languages.
The process of localizing your products and services for different countries and regions is critical to realizing the potential value of your target market. Market research company, Common Sense Advisory, has found that among global customers, “75% prefer to buy products in their native language”. North American companies have invested in targeted marketing strategies and expect revenues from foreign operations and sales to steadily increase in the future.
Localization’s Role in Marketing Strategy
When it comes to target markets, there are two elements required for successful communication: understanding exactly who your ideal buyer is, and learning how to reach them. This first part is usually handled by high-level sales and marketing strategists at your company who have thoroughly researched the locations of your target market. There are some important characteristics for deciding the key demographics: buyer’s age, job function, and understanding their biggest professional or personal challenges, etc.