Localization is simply altering content until it is suitable for a target market or audience. It’s really that simple, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that a simple Google Translate can solve all your problems. Localization involves knowing your target market’s language, habits, preferences, cultural and social norms, and even their prevailing taboos. This can be incredibly important in guiding your marketing strategy and informing you of exactly what not to incorporate in your campaigns.
Localization is, in fact, a key mainstay in international marketing. You can take a quick peek on these international business marketing strategies, and you’ll see that getting it right the first time involves employing localization. In fact, professional translation is best paired with localization strategies as localization is the missing piece that translation lacks.
Small businesses usually make the mistake of thinking that quality translation is enough in an international business strategy. Although it is a stepping stone, it’s not enough for them to become truly competitive, let alone be successful in the international arena. Global companies know too well the cutthroat nature in international business and that is why they routinely hire the right people to get the job done.
Translating Western Languages to Chinese is Exceptionally Hard
They say that you need to know an average of 2,000 Chinese characters to read a Chinese newspaper. In reality, that’s just the basics. There are thousands of Chinese characters in the Chinese language (Mandarin). Apart from their writing system, Chinese grammar rules are wholly different from English and Western languages in general. This makes Chinese translations very hard, but not impossible with the right people.
So if you’re a small business or a multinational corporation with English as a working language, you will need a native translator who can flawlessly translate English to Chinese and Chinese to English. Your Chinese translator will also find the appropriate angle relates your content’s context to make a final translation that will resonate well with native Chinese speakers.
Depending on how much material you need to get translated, you might even need a team of Chinese translators or a professional Chinese language project manager, just like us. DECHN’ll take care of your marketing translation, product translation, website translation, and even video translation for your content marketing needs.
Why Luxury Brands Need To Localize
Localization is essential when reaching out to global markets. Luxury brands particularly cannot succeed without it in today’s business environment. Every market perceives luxury goods differently, and this is especially true for Chinese luxury consumers. China is the largest market for luxury goods and every luxury brand from Prada, Gucci, Louis Vitton, Michael Kors, etc. is looking to get a greater share of the pie.
To accomplish this, localization is the key to attracting more Chinese luxury consumers. With this article, you’ll find out why Chinese luxury consumers are a difficult market to tap into and how luxury brands plan fine-tune their localization strategies to accommodate China’s dynamic consumer behavior. This article will also highlight how small luxury brands can properly compete with big-name luxury brands with localization and adjusting to the changing preferences of the Chinese luxury consumer.
It wasn’t long ago when luxury brands could simply rely on their logo’s prestige to sell. But now things have changed. If luxury brands routinely market their products as timeless, marketing strategies, on the other hand, need to be constantly updated. Localization is about transcending beyond language barriers. This means translation, no matter how perfect and well-intentioned, simply isn’t enough.
Luxury brands also can’t rely on ‘cheap’ Chinese localization tricks such as painting everything with red and slapping a dragon or other traditional Chinese motifs. Chinese consumers aren’t buying it either, and it’s a big mistake for brands to assume that’s all there is to attract Chinese consumers. For some examples of successful use of Chinese motifs check out the below products made specifically for Chinese New Year below.
Anyone who purchases at their stores can get the “red ribbon” packing as well as the limited Jo Malone red pockets!
Givenchy launched a festive design for one of their classic bestselling lipstick shades (#325 Rouge Fétiche)
Not only Luxury Brands Run Into Localization Gaffes
t’s easy to think that luxury brands aren’t susceptible to localization mistakes. In reality, a lot of them do get it wrong with horrific consequences done to their brand’s reputation. A notorious example is Dolce & Gabbana’s video ad showing a Chinese model eating pizza, spaghetti, and cannoli with chopsticks.
Although it was intended to show the Chinese luxury consumer’s growing “appetite” for Western luxury goods, it apparently didn’t resonate well with them. For more examples of marketing mishaps in China check out our article below.
The Chinese found the ad extremely distasteful and highlighted the company’s cultural insensitivity. This resulted in the company being completely listed off from China’s e-commerce platforms, its fashion show in Shanghai was canceled, and its social media engagement numbers almost nonexistent. No one knows if the company can truly recover and get another chance in the Chinese luxury market.
This ad has become a famous example of how to NOT tackle localization when marketing in China.
The Dolce & Gabbana scandal is one of the many cases of luxury brands ignoring the basics of localization 101. This wasn’t a case of a language translation embarrassing error but cultural insensitivity. A gaffe like this cost the company billions, and it serves as a lesson to all companies, not just luxury brands, of what entails for them if they didn’t pay any attention to cultural sensitivities.
Nike’s 2016 CNY series with the traditional Chinese New Year blessing words “發”(get rich) and “福” (good luck). They didn’t realize that when worn as a pair, “發福” literally means “getting fat”.
Many people think translating from their native language to Chinese is just as easy as with most other languages. Yet try to talk to people who’ve tried to learn Mandarin, and they’ll tell you how difficult direct translations can be!
In these situations, it’s crucial to have a native speaker on your side. There are plenty of examples of companies making bad translations with disastrous results for the company’s reputation. Chinese is a very contextual language and thus translation companies and AI-based translation apps can struggle to translate Chinese correctly.
Chinese as a language is constantly evolving as well. New words and phrase are constantly entering and exiting the Chinese lexicon. One tip we’ve always found to be effective is to find a translator that relates to your target audience to ensure they use the right slang and phrases to properly entice your audience. Copywriting is an incredibly important part of marketing and isn’t something you want to mess up.