Using Translation Services To Understand Buyer Behavior In Foreign Markets

Buyer behavior differs among countries and often among different market segments within each nation.  Therefore, corporate product planners and language translation professionals should carefully study each market before implementing a market entry, product launch strategy or other promotional campaign.  In marketing corn flakes and other ready-to-eat breakfast cereals in France, Kellogg Company working in conjunction with their language translation agency used advertising and packaging instructions to overcome certain ingrained consumer habits.  The localization research conducted for Kellogg’s by their certified translation agency showed that French breakfast eaters preferred a croissant but about one-third of the adult population skipped breakfast entirely.  Only a small percentage of French adults eat cereal and of those, 40 percent pour warm milk over it.  To persuade the French to try an American-style, cold-cereal breakfast, the Chicago French translation agency encouraged Kellogg’s to include step-by-step instructions on packages that explain how to prepare a bowl of cereal and stress the use of cold milk.  Furthermore, television commercials were aired to reinforce the idea of using cold milk.  They showed milk being poured from a transparent glass pitcher, which the French customarily use for cold milk, rather than the opaque porcelain jug from which the French pour hot milk into their morning cup of café au lait.

Companies planning to enter foreign markets must also be careful to make their marketing strategies comply with local customs, tastes and living conditions.  In some case, even the product itself must be modified.  Several years ago, Remington Products, Inc., a manufacturer of electric shavers consulted with a Washington D.C. Translation Services and Localization consulting company about the potential to offer different styles of its products for overseas markets.   In Great Britain, where few bathrooms have electric outlets, Remington marketed a battery-powered shaver.  For Japanese consumers, Remington had redesigned its product to accommodate smaller hands.

Different buying patterns mean that brand planning executives should do considerable localization research before entering a foreign market.  Sometimes, the research can be done by the marketer’s own organization or a U.S. based research firm.  In other cases, a foreign-based language translation and localization research firm is needed.

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