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Localisation – how to connect with your customers emotionally

By Tarli Cameron | April 21, 2022 | Translation Tips

Localisation - how to connect with your customers emotionally

When looking to expand into foreign markets, your number one priority should be to emotionally invest in your customers. To do this you will want to adapt your content for your intended audience by investing in localisation.

What is localisation?

For those unfamiliar with the term, localisation involves more than just translation. It is the process of adapting the messages and layout and structure of your content for a specific country or language.  It’s a term that is becoming increasingly used, as companies start to realise the associated benefits of addressing their target customers correctly when trying to expand into new markets.

Win their trust

While it’s much easier and faster to standardise your content, is this going to help you resonate with your customers or make them feel valued?

It will come as no surprise that customers like to read content and websites that are written in their mother tongue. It makes the customer decision process (digesting product information) and the buying journey more personal and fundamentally easier to digest.

Localising your marketing demonstrates to your customers that you are sensitive to their customs, traditions and distinct values. This helps customers to feel more comfortable, engaged and more likely to make a product/service purchase.


Emotional marketing

Marketers are well aware of how effective emotional marketing can be in getting customers to act, whether this is to buy, share, notice or remember. Studies show that while people will do their research into products and services, they often rely on their hearts over their heads when making purchasing decisions.

Depending on what emotion you’re trying to evoke, perhaps nostalgia or excitement, you’ll want to keep that emotion front of mind when writing your content. This isn’t such a challenge when you’re writing to your native audience, but what about for other cultures?

It’s well documented that every region has its culture-specific behaviours and places value on different things. For example, in Japan, honour and reputation are highly valued which means Japanese people place value on quality, reputation and brand over price. In the United States, concise, sales-orientated campaigns are widely accepted because as a culture they like you to get the point quickly.

Therefore, for each region you intend to target, it’s important to gain a deep understanding of the culture’s emotions and social behaviour and then tailor messaging accordingly. This is where localising your content will help to gain results by establishing a more personal, authentic connection.


It’s more than just messaging

To emotionally connect with consumers on their playing fields, you and your team will need to do extensive research into the marketing channels you’ll use to reach your audiences.

While email marketing (especially personalised) drives conversions and revenue in the UK and North America, in China, people rarely use email to communicate, instead favouring WeChat, a Chinese multi-purpose instant messaging, social media and mobile payment app.

Another factor to consider is text length, measurement units, date formats, page sizes and colour palette. There is no one-size-fits approach. For example, German requires a lot more space than Japan to say the same thing.

Companies that embrace localisation

Kentucky Christmas

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)

Every Christmas season millions of Japanese people celebrate Christmas Day with a KFC.

This tradition of eating fried chicken at Christmas dates back to 1970 when the first KFC outlet in Japan opened its doors. The manager of the restaurant, Takeshi Okawara, overheard some foreigners moaning about how it was impossible to get a turkey in Japan to celebrate Christmas. This prompted Okawara to come up with the idea of a party barrel that could be sold in the run-up to Christmas, serving as the substitute for the traditional turkey.

Okawaras idea got KFC’s backing and this led to national promotion throughout Japan in 1974 under the name ‘Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii’ (Kentucky at Christmas), making the brand synonymous with Christmas and family tradition to this very day.

Share a coke with campaign

Coca Cola

Another brand that thinks globally and acts locally is Coca Cola. With a reach of more than 200 countries, Coca Cola sells nearly 2 billion drinks every day all over the world. This success is down to developing stellar localisation strategies for each country it markets to.

Coca Cola’s ‘Share a drink’ campaign was a great example of successful localised strategies. The campaign involved changing the traditional wrapping around the Coca-Cola bottle to say “Share a Coke with…” and a popular name. Coca Cola used different common English names like James, Sarah, and John on each label. When rolling this campaign out to China, where citizens think it is disrespectful to refer to other people using their initial names, Coca Cola changed its approach. Instead of using names, they adopted phrases like ‘classmate’ and ‘close friend.’


Don’t localise alone

If you require localisation, contact TLF today. Our highly-experienced team will utilise local references, examples, idioms and colloquialisms, to ensure your marketing content is culturally appropriate, linguistically sound and engaging.