How Retailers Can Cross Borders
Knowledge Informs Localization
Translation and localization require a nuanced understanding of national, regional and dialectical preferences and habits. A seasoned team should know, for example, that Portuguese might be the primary language of Brazil, but consumers in that country are often bilingual. They frequently speak Spanish, German or one of several indigenous languages in addition to Portuguese. That knowledge can contribute to a successful marketing campaign for a retailer that provides prospects with language choices on its regional website.
The multilingual environment is similar in China. The official national language is Standard Mandarin, but there are more than 292 dialects spoken across the country. In the Middle East, consumers expect superior customer service that reflects their language preferences and local customs. The predominant languages in the region are Arabic, Farsi and Turkish, but there are many local dialects and mixing multiple languages isn't uncommon. In Lebanon, for example, residents often blend French and English with the local Arabic dialect. Knowing which consumers prefer which dialects is critical to a retailer trying to break into a new market and earn the trust of that region's consumers.
This need for knowledge goes beyond language preferences. American marketers can craft direct messages about the superiority of their offerings in comparison to competitors’ products. Internationally, however, not all consumers react so well to a brand's claims of being the best. There are cultures in which that approach is deemed distasteful, and some countries have gone so far as to label these claims illegal. Retailers need to know these facts before they begin building their expansion strategy, not after it's been rolled out.
Harnessing Technology for Smart Localization
In search of "easy" localization, too many retailers jump at the promises of simple machine translation solutions. With so much riding on international expansion efforts, brands can't afford to cut corners on the core marketing content that will either attract or repel prospects abroad. It takes knowledge and experience to create content that maintains both the tone and purpose of the original source language while incorporating local preferences. Machines can't manage that process.