Europe Bound: Expand Prospecting in the EU
The nations of the European Union enjoy well-developed mail-order markets; much of the continent now shares a common currency; and the Internet’s rise has dismantled many of the perceived barriers to international trade.
U.S. catalogers have much to offer Europeans, too. American catalog executives well understand the power of branding and have developed niche offerings that are only now beginning to be exploited across the Atlantic.
That said, however, there are differences between the two regions that can make your navigational efforts difficult. Below, we’ll identify those challenges and explore ways around them.
While language differences are more apparent when marketing to Germany, France or Italy, the English language also differs in significant ways from the version spoken across the Atlantic. In fact, George Bernard Shaw once said, “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.”
Traps await the unwary. For example, in the U.K. apparel market, pants are something you wear underneath trousers, and suspenders are something women use to hold up their stockings. The lesson: Carefully craft your catalog creative.
Germany, France and Britain are the largest catalog markets in Europe, and so generally are the first targets for many American catalogers. This does, of course, require translating your copy into three languages and formulating your prices into two currencies. (For now, the United Kingdom remains faithful to its pound sterling, while Germany and France have leapt wholeheartedly into Euro adoption.)
Appropriately devising your copy isn’t the only consideration. Each language will take a different amount of catalog space to say the same thing. English (whichever side of the Atlantic it’s from) is a relatively compact language.
But if you’re translating copy from English to German, allow enough space on your catalog pages for 5 percent to 10 percent more verbiage. Meanwhile, French, with its smaller vocabulary, takes many more words to say the same thing, so allow room for 10 percent to 20 percent more copy.