Localization for small businesses

“You can buy in any language or culture, but to sell you have to understand their language and culture”

The world isn’t just flat – it’s completely open. With the explosive economic growth in emerging markets and digital technologies, international expansion is no longer reserved for big corporations with deep pockets. Rather, it’s a part of growth strategy for a company of any size.

Does that mean you can sell your products and services to anywhere in the world? The answer is Yes as long as you can provide the same high-quality user experience for your foreign customers as you do for your domestic customers. To simply put, you need ‘localization’ of your products and services in order to generate sustainable business in your target markets.

What is localization?
According to GALA (Globalization and Localization Association), “Localization is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market”. While translation is a key aspect of localization, it alone cannot provide the same user experience. I know most of you saw brochures, operating manuals, etc. where text is translated, but the graphic or formats (date, time, currency, etc.) are left untouched. So, localization is not just about translation. Rather, it’s a series of coordinated efforts to make sure your target customers feel that your products are not translated version of foreign products, but products originated locally.
There is more.
The most successful global organizations sometimes customize their products or other marketing contents for the target market. Obviously, this takes a lot more investment than typical localization. However, if executed correctly, it could generate huge returns because a company can better communicate value of its products based on the cultural norm of the target market. There are many researches about the effect of culture on consumer behavior, and those researches confirm cultural norm and value can influence the decision making and judgement. For example,
“European Americans, for example, are generally influenced by the positive consequences of a decision, whereas Asians appear to be more influenced by the negative consequences that may occur due to a decision or line of action. Asians are therefore more “prevention” focused, manifesting a greater tendency to compromise, seek moderation or to postpone decisions if it is possible.”
Therefore, customization (in addition to localization) based on solid understanding of the culture can set you apart from your competition.

JW Global Insight helps small and medium businesses to expand their business overseas. Our customized market research will help our clients better understand not just market data, but also cultural norms and common business practices. With this unique approach, our clients are able to replicate their success in domestic markets in their target markets. For more information about how we can help, please contact us.