Businesses that decided to enter foreign markets often discover that their products and strategies require a certain degree of customization. Changes to the products and promotional strategies are often needed to address a wide variety of issues that that are present in foreign markets and that might not be present in domestic markets. Therefore, a winning strategy requires careful research and planning to ensure that the needs of the market will be addressed from the offset. Upfront planning can help ensure success and avert costly cross cultural, political, legal and regulatory, and competitive mishaps.
Certified translators frequently hear stories about companies that made the mistake of ignoring cultural, social and linguistic differences when entering foreign markets. An essential requirement of an effective global marketing strategy is the ability to accurately define and identify significant sociocultural and sociolinguistic deviations. In Hong Kong, for example, McDonald’s offers a number of items that appeal to local tastes such as the Green Tea & Red Bean Ice Cream Sundae. In Thailand, McDonald’s offers the Samurai Pork Burger, which happens to be marketed as the Shogun Burger in China. In India, McDonald’s caters to local tastes with a menu that is spicier and includes chicken instead of beef.
Cultural and linguistic difference and preferences can be difficult to identify and integrate into strategies. As many Portuguese translators are aware, while Portuguese is spoken in Portugal, Brazil and Angola, there are significant differences and advertising and other promotional content must be translated into other languages. Therefore, a proper localization strategy requires the use of translators who are fluent in the local dialect. Localization must also account for any logos, symbols or trademarks that could have a cultural meaning. Gerber made the mistake of selling its baby food in low literacy countries. In the countries, products packaging includes a picture of the food item. However, Gerber products include a picture of a baby which confused illiterate consumers. It was widely reported that some shoppers thought that Gerber was selling baby meat.
When companies enter into foreign markets they discover that they must produce communications that can be understood or easily translated into a variety of languages. Even companies that only operate domestically are under pressure to adopt ethnically, culturally, and linguistically to satisfy the needs of their workforce. The president of The Marketing Analysts Translations Company agrees and indicates that this is particularly true when you factor in that nearly 10 million U.S. immigrants were granted citizenship during the 1900’s. In 2008, more than one million people were naturalized as U.S. citizens. Of these immigrants, close to 20-percent were offered priority worker visas because they had exceptional abilities and skills strongly demanded by U.S. corporations. A large portion of these immigrants had limited English speaking and writing skills and came from cultural backgrounds significantly different than those of the United States.
Similar migration patterns of people from Africa, India, Central America and Eastern Europe and the growth of global corporations have created similar situations in other parts of the world. As a business executive, you will encounter situations when you must communicate with people of diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds too. According to one Portuguese to English translator, a good translation agency will assist executives in developing presentations, manuals, brochures and other forms of communication that are globally oriented. Globally oriented communications signify works that are culturally neutral. This means that your documents will be prepared in a local language, and be understood by members of other cultures who have some grasp of the local language but have a different first language. By developing neutral communication works, these documents can be readily translated into a variety of other languages.
While the task of producing neutral communications may sound simple to some, it is actually quite a challenging process for those who only know one language and one culture. The process of creating neutral communication can also be a great challenge to those who are bilingual but have adopted strong linguistic and cultural practices.
During the 1990s there was a global consolidation in many industries. Mergers and acquisitions were taking place with the goals of breadth of product line and a presence across the globe. As companies become global, they were forced to confront cross-cultural issues. Although companies pushed for a single model internationally, it became clear that there was a need to at least modify products and features, and at times go even further in adapting a product for different cultures. A recent example of this involves Nabisco’s Oreo Cookie offering.
Prior to the launch of Oreo Cookies to certain Asian markets, the company consulted with French Translation Chicago, a leading provider of research, localization and translation services. The Chicago based company encouraged Nabisco to develop an orange and mango flavored Oreo cookie. But with years of experience in the Asian markets, the company warned that consumers in those markets had discerning opinions about what a mango should taste like.
As it turned out, Nabisco was very experienced in developing and marketing custom products for foreign markets. Previously, the company had worked in conjunction with a Chinese Houston Translation company to develop green tea flavored Oreos for China. Prior to that, the company had even consulted with Spanish Translation Services of San Francisco when they launched banana and dulce de leche Oreos in Argentina.
The Oreo brand represents a $2 billion brand, and emerging markets will represent nearly 50-percent of revenues for the brand this year. Thanks to the involvement of translation and localization firms, the sales in emerging markets grew by more than 25-percent in 2011. But product development is only part of the brand’s success. International brand mangers working closely with localization and translation agencies also developed effective promotional campaigns for these markets too.