As the founder and localization expert at Localize Nordic, I've spent the past 12 years helping businesses tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to the Nordic markets.
This blog post will unravel the concept of market localization and its paramount importance in marketing, especially for businesses looking to expand internationally. Let's delve into the exciting world of localized marketing!
What is Marketing Localization?
Marketing localization is like making your product or service feel at home in a new country.
Imagine you're throwing a party for friends. You know their favorite food, music, and style, so you prepare everything according to their taste. This way, your friends feel welcome and comfortable. The same idea applies to your marketing localization projects.
Let's say you sell a product in the US and now you want to start selling it in France.
You need to make French people feel like your product was made just for them. This isn't just about changing the language on the product label to French. It's about understanding French people—what they like, what's important to them, how they use similar products, and even what colors or words might turn them off.
You might need to change your advertisements to fit their sense of humor or values.
Maybe you need to change your packaging to match what French people expect. The goal is to make everything look and feel familiar to them. That's what we call marketing localization. It's like a welcoming party for your product in a new country.
What is a Localization Market?
This term typically refers to a specific geographical market where a product or service has been localized, meaning it has been adapted to fit the cultural, linguistic, and societal norms of that location.
A good example could be any country or region where a business has had successful global expansion and decided to expand.
For instance, let's consider the company Netflix. When they decided to expand their services into Japan, Japan became a new target market for them. To effectively penetrate this market, Netflix didn't just translate its platform into Japanese. They invested in producing local Japanese content, adapted the user interface to better match Japanese viewer preferences, and implemented a payment system familiar to Japanese customers.
Similarly, if a British company decided to expand into Denmark, the Danish market would become its localized marketing object.
To successfully localize in Denmark, the company would need to understand Danish culture, language, business etiquette, consumer behavior, and market demands.
Examples of Localized Marketing
Let's consider two popular companies that have thrown fantastic 'welcome parties' for their products in new countries.
Everybody knows McDonald's, right?
It's an American fast-food chain famous for its burgers. But did you know that the McDonald's menu isn't the same everywhere? For example, in India, many people don't eat beef for religious reasons. So, instead of the usual Big Mac, McDonald's came up with the Maharaja Mac, made with chicken. They even added a lot of vegetarian options to the menu.
This way, McDonald's made sure that everyone in India could enjoy their meals, just like in the US.
George Business Review says:
Promotion: IKEA should take a proper promotional strategy to properly position the product.
Different products are promoted in China differently. As Chinese people like to show off, they want bigger sofas in the living room and thus they are ready to pay higher for sofas in the living room, thus IKEA positioned the expensive sofa in the Chinese market and these are priced higher. The company already has a good contract with the young generation of the market, now it should strive to reach the aged customers of the country because longstanding and sustainable success depends on relationships with all levels of customers of the market.
Therefore, IKEA should take such initiatives that will make a unique experience in the market and that will attract a maximum number of customers in the market.
What is Localization Strategy?
A Localization strategy is like a game plan for making your product or service feel at home in a new country.
Let's say you have a successful lemonade stand in your neighborhood. Your lemonade is famous and everyone loves it. Now, you decide to open another stand in a different neighborhood. But in this new place, people prefer iced tea to lemonade.
So, what do you do? You adjust your recipe and start selling the best iced tea they've ever tasted.
Your localization strategy is your plan for making these changes. It's not just about changing lemonade to iced tea. It's also about learning how to make iced tea the way people in this neighborhood like it, maybe even coming up with a catchy name for it, and figuring out the best places and times to sell it.
In other words, a localization strategy includes all the steps you take to adjust your product or service to the needs and preferences of a new market.
This way, you make sure that your product or service will be as popular and successful in the new place as it is in your home market.
Who Works Out The Localized Marketing Strategy?
A Localization Strategy is usually worked out by a team of experts, which can include market researchers, localization specialists, product managers, and marketing professionals.
They analyze the new market, understand the preferences of the local customers and consumers, and design a plan to adapt the product or service accordingly.
For example, let's say you have a popular mobile gaming app in the US and you want to launch it in Denmark. Your localization strategy would be created by a team like this:
1. Market Researchers:
They would study the gaming market in Denmark, and learn about popular game genres, player behavior, peak playing times, and common payment methods.
2. Localization Specialists:
They would work on translating the game into Danish, not just word-for-word, but in a way that feels natural to Danish players. They might also adapt the game's cultural references or humor to fit Danish culture.
3. Product Managers:
They would modify the game based on the research findings. For instance, if strategy games are popular in Denmark, they might introduce more strategic elements into the game.
4. Marketing Professionals:
They would develop a marketing campaign that appeals to Danish gamers. They might collaborate with popular Danish gaming influencers or advertise at local gaming events.
Once the strategy is finalized, it's implemented by different teams within the company.
The development team would make necessary changes to the product, the localization team would translate and culturally adapt the content, and the marketing team would execute the localized marketing campaign. This collaborative approach ensures the product is effectively tailored for the new market, maximizing its potential for success.
An Example From Denmark
Consider Spotify, a music streaming service originally from Sweden.
When they expanded to Denmark, they didn't just translate their app into Danish. They created playlists of popular Danish music and even featured local artists, making Danish users feel that Spotify wasn't just another foreign app, but a service designed just for them.
This is an example of a well-executed localization strategy.
How To Implement Localized Marketing Campaigns For Your Business?
Implementing a localized marketing campaign requires careful planning, execution, and analysis. Here's a step-by-step process to get you started:
1. Understand the Local Market:
First, you need to know who your potential customers are in this new market. Conduct market research to understand their preferences, habits, and needs. This includes identifying local holidays, traditions, popular social media platforms, and any cultural nuances that might affect their buying behavior.
2. Develop a Localization Strategy:
Based on your market research, create a localization strategy that addresses how you will adapt your product, service, and marketing messages to meet the needs of the local market. This could involve modifying your product, translating your content, marketing localization efforts, or even creating new marketing plans.
3. Localize Your Product or Service:
With the strategy in place, the next step is to actually localize your offering. This might involve making changes to the product based on local tastes, translating your website or app into the local language, or adjusting your pricing to match local purchasing power.
4. Localize Your Marketing Materials:
Next, adapt your marketing materials to suit the local market. This includes not only translating them into the local target language but also adapting them to fit local aesthetics, values, and cultural norms. For example, you might need to change the images in your advertisements to feature local people or landmarks.
5. Implement the Campaign:
Now it's time to launch your localized marketing campaign. Use the channels that are most popular in your target market, whether that's social media, email, print advertising, or something else. Make sure your messaging resonates with your local audiences and reflects their values and interests.
6. Monitor and Adjust:
Once your campaign is live, closely monitor its performance. Are you reaching your target audience? Are they engaging with your content? Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments to your campaign.
7. Learn and Iterate:
Learn from your experiences and use these insights to refine your future marketing localization efforts further. Localization is not a one-and-done process. It requires ongoing attention and adaptation as markets evolve and consumer preferences change.
Examples Of Localized Marketing Campaigns
For example, if you're a US-based fashion brand expanding into Norway, you might find that Norwegian customers prefer practical, high-quality clothing suitable for their climate.
In response, you could launch a line of durable, weather-resistant clothing and create a marketing campaign highlighting these features. By using images of local landscapes and referencing Norwegian weather conditions in your advertising, you make your brand more relatable to your new Norwegian customers.
Remember, successful localized marketing feels personal and relevant to the target audience. It shows that your brand understands and values them, which can help to build trust and loyalty.
Essential Elements for a Successful Marketing Localization Strategy
1. Understanding the Market:
The first step in any localization effort is understanding the market you're entering.
This includes researching the local culture, consumer behavior, societal norms, and business practices. You should also analyze your competition and how they market their products or services.
2. Transcreation of Content:
Transcreation goes beyond simple translation to adapt the message of your content to make it culturally appropriate and engaging for the local audience.
The aim here is to maintain the original intent, style, tone, and context of your message while making it resonate with the local culture.
3. Localization of Visuals:
Visual content, such as images and videos, need to be localized too.
This involves ensuring that any symbols, colors, or gestures used are culturally appropriate and relatable for the target audience. The visuals should reflect local customs, fashion, and landscapes to connect more effectively with the audience.
4. Adapting to Local SEO Practices:
Online visibility is crucial for success.
Localizing your SEO means using the keywords, phrases, and search terms that your target audience uses. This also involves understanding and complying with local data privacy regulations and search engine preferences.
5. Using Local Influences:
Leveraging local influencers and celebrities in your marketing can greatly enhance your brand's credibility and appeal. Consumers tend to trust recommendations from individuals they admire or relate to.
6. Legal and Regulatory Compliance:
Understanding and adhering to local laws and regulations is crucial.
This can involve everything from data privacy laws to advertising standards. Compliance issues can lead to costly fines and damage your brand's reputation.
7. Regular Evaluation and Adaptation:
Finally, a successful marketing localization strategy involves regular review and adaptation.
Consumer preferences and market trends can change rapidly. Regularly evaluating your company's marketing strategy's effectiveness and making necessary changes is key to sustained success.
An Example of a Localized Product
KitKat in Japan is a classic example of a localized product.
Recognizing the Japanese tradition of gift-giving and their fondness for unique flavors, Nestlé Japan offers KitKats in over 200 different flavors, including matcha green tea, sake, and wasabi.
A great example of a localized product for the Nordic markets comes from the tech giant, Apple.
When Apple launched its voice assistant, Siri, it wasn't only programmed to understand and speak different languages, it was also adapted to handle the local accents and dialects found within those languages.
For the Nordic market specifically, Siri was programmed to understand and respond in Swedish, Danish, Finnish, and Norwegian. But Apple didn't stop there. The company also ensured that Siri could understand the many cultural differences, nuances, local humor, and specific regional references of these Nordic countries.
For instance, if you ask Siri for the nearest restaurant in Oslo, it will give you results based on your location in Norway.
Furthermore, Siri is also familiar with local landmarks, and popular local events, and can even respond to culturally specific commands and questions, offering a truly localized user experience.
This level of localization makes the product feel more personalized and user-friendly, leading to a better customer experience. This is a prime example of a localized product specifically tailored for the Nordic markets.
What is Localization in Advertising?
Localization in advertising is the process of adapting an ad campaign to fit better the culture, language, preferences, and market trends of a specific geographic region.
It goes beyond mere translation of text—it's about conveying the same brand message, value proposition, and emotional appeal that resonates with the local audience.
This means adjusting every aspect of your advertisement to match the local market, including the imagery, colors, music, humor, and celebrities used. It also involves understanding local customs, traditions, taboos, and local regulations.
For example, a soft drink commercial in the U.S. might feature a celebrity baseball player to appeal to American audiences. However, in a country like Sweden where ice hockey is more popular, the ad might be localized to feature a famous ice hockey player instead.
Similarly, humor often needs to be localized because jokes that work well in one culture may not translate well or could even be seen as offensive in another.
What is Localization in Digital Marketing?
Localization in digital marketing is the practice of adapting your online marketing strategy and content to fit the language, culture, and consumer behaviors of a specific geographical market.
Like localization in traditional marketing, it's not just about translating text—it's about delivering a tailor-made digital experience for the target audience.
Here are some elements involved in localization in a digital marketing strategy:
1. Website Localization: This involves translating and adapting your website to the local language and cultural context. This might also include adjusting design elements, currency, date formats, and even altering content based on local preferences.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Localized SEO involves using the keywords and phrases your local audience uses. It also means complying with the preferences of target audiences and search engines, as Google isn't always the dominant player.
3. Social Media Localization: Different regions may have different popular social platforms. Localizing social media involves not just language translation, but also creating localized content that resonates with local users, and engaging with them during their peak activity times.
4. Content Marketing: Localizing your blog posts, videos, infographics, and other content ensures that it resonates with your target audience. This could mean focusing marketing content on topics of local interest, using local references or humor, and featuring local events or influencers.
5. Email Marketing: This might involve adjusting your email content, subject lines, and even send times to match local norms and preferences.
6. Ads Localization: From PPC ads to social media ads, the text, imagery, and overall message should be tailored to the target audience to improve their effectiveness.
Ultimately, the goal of localization in digital marketing is to make your digital presence feel natural and appealing to your target market, which can lead to higher engagement, conversion rates, and customer loyalty.
In summary, market localization is more than just a marketing buzzword. It's a key strategy for businesses looking to tap into new markets and build meaningful connections with local consumers.
As globalization continues to connect us in unprecedented ways, a proper localization strategy helps ensure that our messages resonate with people, not just markets.
Stay tuned to our blog for more insights and feel free to reach out to us at Localize Nordic if you need help localizing your business for the Nordic markets.
Stay Local, Think Global!