Companies that wish to operate on an international scale are lured by the prospect of global consumerism and potential growth in other countries. It is tempting to see the statistics of growth in other countries and want to expand into those territories. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has said that 95% of the world’s consumers now live outside the United States.
This ever so common decision, however, is often rushed without a thorough understanding of that culture’s consumer connection.
The consumer connection is a way for a company to acquire and retain new customers by how their branding makes the consumer feel. Consumers want to purchase products from businesses that believe what they believe and that evoke like-minded emotions. That is why brands are no longer in the business of selling products - they're in the business of creating close emotional ties with their consumers.
Each country will have varying cultural risks for a company wishing to gain market entry. This cultural risk refers to the struggle a company encounters because of differences in language, customs, norms, and customer preferences.
Attempts at Global Consumerism
A refrigerator manufacturer experienced poor sales in the Middle East because of another cultural difference. The firm used a photo of an open refrigerator in its prints ads to demonstrate the large amount of storage offered by the appliance. Unfortunately, the photo prominently featured pork, a type of meat that is not eaten by the Jews and Muslims who make up most of the area’s population. To get a sense of consumers’ reactions, imagine if you saw a refrigerator ad that showed meat from a horse or a dog. You would likely be disgusted. In some parts of world, however, horse and dog meat are common.
Part of any successful global expansion is choosing the countries wisely. Home Depot thought it could replicate what it had done in the United States in China. Repair work in China had involved hiring contractors to come in and do the work and not historically much of a do it yourself type of culture. They envisioned their products creating another option for consumers to do the work themselves, thus saving money. While this was a great goal, it was unrealistic as the vast majority don’t live in houses with garages for tools. They also faced challenges as bartering was of common practice and not part of Home Depot’s business model.
Many companies have struggled to truly understand what localization means. McDonald’s is increasingly reliant on sales outside the United States. With less than one-third of its sales being generated in its home country, McDonald’s is truly a global powerhouse. However, it took years before they realized the serious vegetarianism of the average Indian citizen thus localizing their menu in India.
What is Localization?
Localization is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market. Translation is only one of several elements of the localization process.
- Adapting graphics to target markets
- Modifying content to suit the tastes and consumption habits of other markets
- Adapting design and layout to properly display translated text
- Converting to local requirements (such as currencies and units of measure)
- Using proper local formats for dates, addresses, and phone numbers
- Addressing local regulations and legal requirements
If your company is in need of localization services in order to properly prepare for global expansion; Dynamic Language provides localization services in over 150+ languages. Our company is ISO 9001 Certified. Being ISO 9001 Certified demonstrates our commitment to quality language services. With Dynamic Language’s ISO-certified processes and services, your organization can rest assured that your localization project is in good hands.