Localization for Asian Markets | What Global Brands Need to Know?
Brand localization is essential to sustain cultural diversity and to sustain the brand itself.
Regardless of a brand’s popularity and fortune, localization is critical to remain profitable in all communities. Even everyone’s favorite brands, Mcdonald’s, Coca-Coke, and Starbucks, mindfully go about every facet of brand localization. It’s not about what you are offering; it’s more about how you are presenting it. Branding and the stories that you tell your customers make all the difference. What is working for your English brand in western markets might not work at all in Asian markets. Every market responds differently to the same brands, depending on their cultural intricacies, social norms, and group psychologies.
Tapping into Asian markets has been difficult for English brands because of huge cultural diversification and language. It’s high time that western brands understand that Asian markets are different and they’re indeed more challenging.
Table of content
- Why Are Asian Markets Different?
- Asian Market Localization Challenges
- Language Challenges
- Culture Challenges
- Tone & Style Challenges
- Political Challenges
- Examples of Big Giants in Asian Markets
- Quick Tips for Asian Market Localization
- Go Mobile
- Do Native Translations
- Localize Graphics & Colors
- Avoid Culture Offense
Why Are Asian Markets Different?
Asian markets are certainly a whole different world from the west. There are many things that make Asia different from the western corners. First of all, Asia is at different technological and economic development stages that largely affect people’s lifestyles, literacy rates, and income levels. Secondly, Asian regions are more culturally sensitive than western communities. They are also not well tolerant of foreign cultures and beliefs. Lastly, of course, language difference is always a big hindrance for foreign brands to capture Asian markets.
Brands need to consider all the cultural, linguistic, and political diversifications of the Asian market to better localize their brands that seem to resonate with locales. Understanding Asian communities would allow western brands to effectively adapt to local preferences and get higher market shares in Asian markets.
Asian Market Localization Challenges
Considering the passive and conservative nature of Asian markets, there are many challenges that western brands may face entering into these regions. Here are the three major challenges that western brands would definitely have to overcome while getting into an Asian market.
Asian markets are not English-speaking communities in general. Even the people who are educated and understand English are not so fluent in it. So, any western brand that thinks the world understands English because it is the international language should get their facts right. Only 17% of the world’s population speaks English, and Asia has the lowest English proficiency rate.
The idea of localization is to speak to your target customers in their native languages to enhance brand engagement. For a brand to capture the Asian market, it should translate its content into native languages for every region. Managing plenty of translation on a regular basis could be challenging, but you can always get help from professional translation tools. MarsHub is the best localization management platform that would support you in managing your translation tasks more effectively.
Asian societies are more cultured with collective beliefs and mindsets. Most people follow group psychologies, which is so unlike western individualism and liberalism. People in Asia are emotionally connected to their cultures and social norms. That’s why any idea opposing those pre-existed beliefs could easily offend people.
So, it is important for western brands to better understand the cultural nuances of their target regions to fit smoothly in those societies. From the phrases you use in translations to the use of colors in graphics, everything has to be culturally appropriate to avoid any inconvenience.
Tone & Style Challenges
It is important for brands to go right with their overall tone and style, depending on the audience. You better have a clear understanding of whether your audience prefers a formal or casual tone. For instance, if you are about to target the Russian market, you better go for a formal tone. Similarly, you must sound as non-American as possible with your tone if you’re targeting the Chinese market.
So, it is also an important thing to consider whether you should use long or short phrases. You must also consider whether your audience wants concise and short messaging or whether they are more into detailed expressions when it comes to messaging. For the Japanese audience, you better be as brief as possible. For Indians, you can go into details if you want.
With increased local competition and political tension, it has never been easier for western countries to pave their way to Asian markets. Their legal systems and local business culture are very different, which makes it difficult for western brands to penetrate those markets. Currency fluctuations are also high in Asian markets, making it hard to build stable and sustainable businesses. And most importantly, Asian countries are very close to their culture and can relate more to similar cultures and nations. Therefore, they prefer trading with neighboring countries instead of choosing a western brand.
Examples of Big Giants in Asian Markets
You can better understand the true nature of Asian markets with some examples. Here is one of the well-known, cultured, and diversified Asian markets with growing economies. Let’s look closely at how these markets work and how they would expectedly respond if some western brand wants to enter it.
China is not an easy market to target for western brands. Well, not to say that you will find no western brands in Chinese markets; yet, there are some trade restrictions and other challenges that you must be aware of. If you are a western brand, you may have to reinvest yourself totally from branding to packaging. To make your brand look authentically Chinese, you have to adapt its style, modify the slogans, or sometimes change your brand name. Well, why not? AirBnB is a good example here, a well-known brand that changed its brand name to Aibiying just to fit in the Chinese marketplace.
However, renaming your brand may not always work for everyone. So, you should only focus on things that are actually going to make any difference and help you penetrate smoothly into the Chinese market. Language translations are also important because Chinese people don’t understand English. Moreover, make sure your translations are culturally appropriate. It must not sound so western as it may cause a fraction between your brand and customers.
India is a huge market with a lot of trade opportunities. With the 3rd largest consumer market worldwide, India could be very lucrative for you in terms of revenue if you get the localization right. India is the land of diverse cultures, religious beliefs, and languages. To deliver your brand message in the most meaningful way to potential customers, you have to adapt your brand image in a way that resonates with target customers, keeping the core brand vision and philosophy intact at the same time.
Although the competition is getting intense in the market, there is still room for new brands. For instance, there are already many western brands operating in the Indian market. Still, there is a gap in the market for western food brands. India has a diverse food culture, and people have unique taste buds that make it quite difficult for western brands to penetrate the Indian market. Except for some top fast-food chains, you would hardly find many western food companies dominating the market. Maybe with good localization, someday an American ramen brand would replace Maggi.
Japan is a tech-savvy and culture-rich market. However, it would be difficult for a foreign market to penetrate the market, not because of the trade restriction but because Japanese customers are too loyal to existing brands. When it comes to choosing between different brands, Japanese people don’t want to take any risks, trying new brands. It could be a major challenge for western brands to capture the attention of more customers and make them buy from them.
You also have to be very careful while translating into Japanese, making sure that everything is well conveyed and nothing is lost in translations. Translation to the Japanese language could take longer than in other languages, especially with the high-quality translation management system. The language is complicated, and there are many pronoun differences from the English language. The word order and scripting style of Japanese is also way too different from Latin languages. It is also important to keep the cultural context intact in your translations. Use a formal and polite tone, and avoid too much causality and sarcasm.
Quick Tips for Asian Market Localization
If you want to target an Asian market, make sure you do it right from the beginning to avoid any inconvenience later. Here are some quick tips for localizing your brand for Asian markets.
In the Asian market, around 59% of the population are mobile-first customers. The default experience of customers for an online brand is through mobile. So, a western brand needs to adopt a mobile-first approach while tailoring its content to the Asian markets.
Do Native Translations
Always hire native translators to translate into Asian languages. Natives are better at translating your brand message to native languages considering all cultural and social intricacies. Especially if you want to translate your web copy or ads campaign, you hire someone who is good with transcreations. So, your translations target the same emotions as the original text.
Localize Graphics & Colors
When it comes to localization, you have to look behind translations because there are many other aspects of your brand that affect customers’ buying decisions. How your brand looks is the first impression of your brand to target customers. While designing your website layout or social media ads, make sure they are using the right colors and graphics that are preferred in target markets. Similarly, the way you show time and date on your website should be according to the preferred formats of that market.
Avoid Culture Offense
Everything from translations to ad designing should reflect the culture of target markets to make your brand more engaging to target customers. People will be able to connect with the brand because they find it more relatable. Moreover, avoid anything that could offend people. For instance, how you design Dove soap ads in western countries would not work in countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, etc., because women in short clothes call for nudity, not beauty. Objectifying women’s bodies is not normal in many cultures and societies around the world.
To expand your brand to Asian markets, you must clearly understand their cultural sensitivities, linguistic differences, and political views. By adapting your brand to the unique identities of locales, you can easily penetrate Asian marketplaces.
You better get your hands on the best localization management platform to manage your localization work more effortlessly.
To learn more, get free localization consultation with our experts at MarsHub.