In today’s global world, the retail industry is becoming increasingly competitive. Retailers are looking for new ways to adapt their brand to fit local markets, and localization is often the solution they seek.
PHOTO: The New Jersey Vietnamese American Community Association
Reaching Vietnamese Americans requires a unique marketing strategy that involves understanding this audience’s history and interest in continuing to speak Vietnamese. Transcreation, which includes translating the message of an ad campaign, can help you identify images, phrases, and experiences that resonate with Vietnamese American audiences.
You’ve undoubtedly seen websites with options for different versions available in multiple languages. In a lot of cases, the localized version in your own language may seem stilted and unappealing, and often poorly translated. Branding and marketing are essential in any language and any market. If you’re not able to make a good impression on your customers in a foreign market, or make your site easy for them to understand and use, then what’s the point of selling in that market at all? You’d be wasting money maintaining a service that people disinterested in.
The process of expanding into foreign retail markets begins with having your website translated and localized into all target languages and locales, so that local customers in those countries can navigate with ease. You figure it’s a simple first step: compile the text from your current website and run it through Google Translate, and you’ll be all set, right?
Not quite. Even if machine translation could offer a perfect, word-for-word translation of your content (which it can’t), there are many more factors to consider when translating your site besides just the words on the screen. Here are five points to consider when localizing retail websites for foreign markets.
Many companies are expanding at incredible rates, increasing the importance of being able to launch their products and services in diverse communities. To stay competitive, brands must be able to target wider audiences at home and in their overseas marketing campaigns. Customers often prefer to shop in their own language, so companies’ profit margins may rely on their ability to create a shopping experience that connects to a consumer across a global platform.
1. Translating Literally Instead of Transcreating
When translating brand names or slogans into other languages, many companies simply translate the words literally. Others focus more on conveying the general concept of their name or message. But when they do this, they forget one very important element: marketing.
Let’s take the Coca-Cola example. The name they actually decided on for the Chinese market was a combination of characters that were pronounced similarly to “Coca-Cola,” and translated (approximately) to, “Allowing the mouth to experience joy.” This matches perfectly with English slogans like, “The Joy of Coca-Cola,” and “Enjoy Coca-Cola.” But imagine if they’d just used a generic name, or something that translated as “soda.” There would be nothing to differentiate it from the many other brands of soda on the store shelves in China.
The world is shrinking. Modern technology allows us to communicate with people and cultures across the globe, as easily as with a friend in the same room. Because of this, it’s getting easier, as well as more important, to sell your products in foreign markets, as well as local ones.
So how do you do that? First, you need to make sure your product translates into the languages of those other markets: the packaging, the advertisements, the literature, the logo, and every element that makes your product what it is. You’re not just translating words on a page, either. You’ll be adapting images and overall message for a completely different culture. To do that effectively, you need the help of a translation service provider.
Communicating vs. Branding
What is it about your brand that makes it unique? Why would someone buy your product instead of one marketed by one of your competitors? Now, shift those questions into a new, foreign market. Why would they want to buy your product, and what makes it different from similar products that are made and sold locally? The reasons may be the same, or different, but either way, those reasons need to translate.
You’ve done it! You’ve achieved nationwide success, and now your company is ready for the next step: going global. You’re expanding into a number of foreign markets in countries all over the world. Now the question is: how do you package your product to sell in those countries? How do you make sure your brand stands out and remains uniquely identifiable with your company while still communicating the pertinent information of your product to the consumer in their own language? Here are a few tips for retail packaging when going global:
The most popular brands are all readily identifiable, not by their name, but by their logo. The Nike swish. The Pepsi ball. Microsoft’s flag of colored squares. No matter what country you’re in, and what language you speak, if you see those logos, you know exactly what company they represent.
Your brand may not be as prominent or recognizable as Nike or Microsoft, but making your packaging as visual as possible is an important step toward establishing your brand globally. Keep it simple, as well. If you clutter the label with a lot of dense text and information, it will distract from the overall message of your brand. Choose a couple of important facts or messages to include (briefly) on the front of the package (“Low fat!” “50% larger!” etc.), and save the rest of the pertinent information for the label on the back.
You can play around with colors as well, using a certain color or color combination to help communicate your brand instantly. Coca-Cola is red and white. Kodak is yellow. If you can come up with a very specific color scheme and make it your own, you’ll be well on your way to establishing your brand and packaging globally.
Your brand and retail product is taking the country by storm. Now you want to expand your company into a foreign market. Congratulations! Now, how do you do that? How to take your product to new global markets and maintain a prominent brand presence on a global scale without losing sight of your customers as individuals with their own specific needs? How do you communicate with your customers across different countries and languages? Here are a few top tips for how to sell your product globally.
The further away you are from a situation, the less likely it is that you will be in touch with what’s going on. The same is true for taking a retail product global. To maintain a successful presence in a country where you would like to offer your product, it’s important to have people specifically designated to deal with your products in that country and keep your customers happy. They don’t necessarily have to be located in that country, but they should be intimately familiar with the culture, language, and customs in order to communicate effectively with your customers there.
You should also have a version of your website that’s specifically designed for each country. Apart from basic translation, you will need to make sure prices are listed in the proper currency and adjusted for current exchange rates. In addition, you need to be aware of what payment methods are common in each country so that you can accommodate your customers, rather than turning them off by forcing them to use a method they wouldn’t ordinarily use.
If you’re selling food, it’s very important to properly label all ingredients, nutritional information, etc. What does that entail? Well, it depends on what market you’re selling in. At the end of last year, the European Union enacted strict legislation regarding how food is labeled. This means that when exporting food products to be sold in Europe, you need to make sure they comply with those regulations. It also means that all of these new labels need to be properly translated.
Nutritional Information Requirements
Previously, providing specific nutritional values for foods was completely voluntary in Europe. Some companies added it for customer convenience, whereas others simply labeled foods as healthy or unhealthy, using the symbol of red and green traffic lights. And plenty of food products had no nutritional labels at all.
However, as of December 2014, the EU requires that a variety of nutritional facts, including fat and salt content, carbohydrates, and more, be displayed on all pre-packaged foods in order to keep consumers better informed and combat rising obesity levels.
Volume and Timeliness
In the retail industry, there’s a large amount of material that must be translated. Consider the variety of content your company publishes: product packaging, catalogs, coupons, emails, and blogs. Plus, if you have brick and mortar stores, there are signs, employee training materials, POS materials, and much more.
In addition, there is a very quick turnaround time. Catalogs and coupons are time-sensitive, and must be fully translated and ready to distribute in time for customers to take advantage of them. Blogs and emails may be released weekly, or even more frequently. Even product packaging and label translation is usually the last step before going to print, and by then, time is of the essence! All of these materials must be translated quickly and accurately, not only for your customers to understand, but so they will ultimately want to buy your products.