In the previous article How to Localize: The 3 Pillars of Localization Process, I shared my views on how the localization process should be set up to deliver the desired results and how the understanding of localization has been somewhat changed by the current pandemic. This time, I am talking about the things that have not been changed and that are not very likely to change – the benefits of localization.
Localization and Translation
Localization is essentially a background process that enables smooth and organic integration of products and services into the environment of the international markets. One may think of it as of glue that ties together all business development activities targeted at a particular market, facilitating reach, engagement and support of the target audiences.
As its name suggests, localization refers to a place.
While translation refers exclusively to adaptation of textual content from one language to another, the purpose of localization is adapting a product/service to the environment of the target market using, in addition to translation, transcreation, legal and technical adaptation, localization of visual and multimedia elements and other tools that will make a certain content fully integrated into the target market.
And the reason this is done is because, as the market researches show, about 70% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if a product/service is offered in their first language, while about 40% of customers decline to make a purchase because of missing information on the product, service or delivery, or, as Willy Brandt famously stated: “If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.”
In the digitally transformed world, these “eternal” truths are as relevant as ever and the ongoing processes of content explosion and increasing demands to provide more content to the growing digital audiences bring localization and its benefits back to the spotlight – it is now crystal clear that localization is a major profit enabler.
But how does it actually enable profit growth?
The 3 Main Benefits of Localization
To provide an answer to this question, several years ago we conducted a research on our own with the aim of distilling our experience to define the main benefits of localization that, when put together, tell an epic story about successful market penetrations, brand awareness, positive figures and similar things that generate profit. What we discovered were the 3 Ps of localization, Prevention, Proximity and Popularity.
It is easy to overlook the fact that localization is often a necessary preventive measure to avoid or minimize legal and financial risks on the international markets. This is obvious when certain materials are localized to meet the regulatory or legal demands, but localization also performs a preventive function when it helps you present your product or service, company and values in the way that target audiences will fully understand, eliminating the risk of bad publicity and enabling you to build and maintain a strong and positive global presence. Good things do not happen when the clients and customers receive mixed, unclear or offending signals, or when product launches are delayed due to language-related issues and localization is here to make sure that you avoid this.
Why do we decide to use particular products from the hundreds of similar ones on the market? Most of us will probably state the obvious factors such as price, availability and quality, and it is true, but it is not the entire story. When all these factors are put together, they build our emotional attachment to a particular brand, we adopt it as part of our lifestyle and remain faithful to it and reluctant to try alternatives even when the prices go up or when the availability requires additional effort on our end. In other words, certain brands and certain products become parts of our culture, they are something that we know, like and trust.
Localization is a tool that enables companies to achieve this effect on the international markets, to become integrated into the target culture by bringing their brands, values, products and services closer to the target audiences and in accordance with their requirements and expectations.
Among other things, every localized product/service inevitably communicates respect for the target language and culture, and respect is one of those precious things that are hard to earn and easy to lose – but it is always returned.
We all like it when our foreign friends make that effort to learn a bit of our language and it is not different when companies do the same thing. This kind of respect is what makes certain companies and brands more popular than the others and it is the foundation stone of building a solid base and a positive presence on the international markets.