There's an undeniable focus on personalization in the fashion industry. However, personalization on its own doesn't carry the same benefit in the worldwide market. Today, fashion garments are widely available and accessible for purchase, no matter where in the world a consumer is located. This means localization is particularly important for retailers looking to tap into the global marketplace.
Globalization, fast fashion, and heightened accessibility have given global consumers the freedom to shop outside of their local box. But now, retailers need to ensure they can take on the challenge of making their products locally appealing.
Localizing to Meet Cultural Expectations
The local climate and culture of a region largely influence what customers want. With an effective localization strategy, target audiences and new customers not only receive personalized experiences, but ones that will meet their linguistic needs and cultural expectations.
According to a study, 72.4 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase a product from a website in their native language. The study also indicates that 55 percent of global consumers prefer using their native language when shopping online. This accounts for over half of all retail customers globally.
Given the unique features and expectations of each cultural market, localization helps to build trust and is a combined understanding of local context, culture and subtlety. It can be used as an effective retail strategy where a brand adjusts its offerings, marketing and branding to appeal to different segments of its pre-existing and prospective customer base.
Furthermore, localization enhances the quality of each stand-alone factor that makes up the total consumer experience, and each factor impacts consumer behavior. These factors include everything from the use of local language, culturally relevant product descriptions, and convenient payment, return and contact options. Incorporating these elements will make it easier for customers to do what you want them to do: notice your products and decide to purchase.
Rethinking Retail ROI
Localization strategies must be an aspect of international expansion planning, not an afterthought. If the end user is the focal point and the reason for expansion, that should inform every single activity you take in the journey.
Localization can increase sales, help ease access to new markets, ignite and strengthen loyalty, and help customize the overall experience. For many global businesses, their growth has been synonymous with localizing.
A well-known example of a successful retailer that has experienced localization success is Zara, the leading apparel brand. Zara’s localization strategy has led the fashion retailer to become a global brand, familiar and thriving, across Europe, Asia and North America. This is because, first and foremost, Zara’s Spain-based design team works with each market they are in to localize the brand's products. As a result, Zara has expanded into 77 markets worldwide.
As of late, there has been a strong push toward local consumption. Global companies will have a better chance of remaining competitive against locally based companies by "localizing."
Access doesn't equate to purchase, and we’re no longer in the early stage of the quiet revolution which took place in consumer markets over a decade ago. Retailers will need to demonstrate that they’ve changed with the times — from native language and tone of voice, to changing the price, currency and method of payment to meet local preferences. Shipping and customer support, and return policy, should all feel local to the customer.
Localization starts before consumers reach your app or website. It starts with localizing ads and a localized SEO strategy so people can find you in their native language, via email marketing, invoices, and virtually every single touchpoint.
Retailers that can prove that they meet new and more ethical consumer standards will be able to thrive in a more conscious world, especially given this isn't an expectation but a requirement from the world’s fastest-growing generation, Gen Z.
Being a local presence doesn’t have to mean having a store around the corner from your customers. It’s about making consumers feel like you're part of their community. In fact, localizing your online presence is more important than ever.
Hila Shitrit-Nissim is the chief marketing officer at BLEND, an AI-localization platform that works with brands globally to help implement stronger localization practices and strategies.