Article

Giuseppe Marcigliano
Giuseppe Marcigliano 8 September 2016

China-lize Your Marketing Assets

Global and international organizations have to be able to communicate and engage with costumers in native Chinese locales; vice-versa many Chinese goods are now being promoted in western markets so this is generating demand for the symmetrical localization.

Global and international organizations have to be able to communicate and engage with costumers in native Chinese locales; vice-versa many Chinese goods are now being promoted in western markets so this is generating demand for the symmetrical localization.

A great example of the latter situation is the Chinese brand Huawei known as the first Chinese company to enter the Interbrand report with 65% of its revenue coming from outside of China.

The accelerated globalization in and out of China over the past years shows that the Chinese localization industry has grown rapidly.

China is known for the lack of translator retention in the localization industry. Translation is no longer perceived as a desirable profession and it represents, most of the times, the lowest link in the localization production chain. The result is high turnaround time and low translation quality.

Standard Chinese is classed as mega language with nearly 1.2 billion native speakers (Around 16% of the world's population). Standard Chinese includes the writing systems of Traditional an Simplified Chinese.

In Datawords the demand for localization in Chinese has increased significantly as the Chinese economy has grown.

According to Common Sense Advisory in 2015, global marketers need 14 languages to reach 90% of the world's population and simplified Chinese represents 21% share of the global online audience and 36.5% share of online gross domestic product.

Quality Localization to and from China

As said before both the "West" tries to localize to China and vice-versa. There are a number of factors that can affect a company's international expansion. Chinese companies are struggling but their patience in cultural adaptation will be followed by success soon.

An example:

Jianlibao group, producer of what was once the number one beverage in China, decided at one point to expand in over a dozen of international markets. Despite hiring the right people and industry veterans the drink producer wasn't able to gain popularity overseas for 2 reasons:

  1. The brand name, Jianlibao, prevented it from connecting with the average western costumer
  2. Premature expansion and insufficient budget to make necessary promotional investments.

On the other hand Coca-Cola had already effectively connected with Chinese consumers by translating its Chinese name to "Kekou Kele" which sounds familiar to the original and translates as delicious happiness.

Janlibao has also a wonderful taste and it is an high quality product but it lacked a sound of globalization strategy, international experience, and the above mentioned reasons, all of which were necessary to establish its position across borders.

Most of the issues met in localization are due to China's past experience in a fast developing environment. They love being part of a fast developing market and are not used to the slow rhythms of western economy. Hence Chinese deem their business venture a failure and they return to China.

Moreover, Chinese consumers are much more tolerant to poor costumer service, a behaviour which is not tolerated by western consumers and not taken into account when Chinese companies try to go global.

Last but not least, Chinese companies are struggling with delivering quality product localization. The end goal should be to make the product appear as if it's manufactured locally for local costumers but it's not always the case.

Branding mistakes occur also from West to East.

Some of the largest western brands have made errors when entering the Chinese market.

KFC has experienced high levels of success in almost every country except in 1987 when opening the first store in Beijing. Legend says that their famous slogan " finger lickin' good" was translated literally into " we'll eat your fingers off". This led to mass confusion and consequently to major investments in high quality localization which led to overall local success.

Pepsi faced similar translation issues with their slogan when bringing their product to China. While the slogan supposedly given to translators read "Come alive with Pepsi" in China, due to improper translation, legend says that it was delivered to local costumers as " Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave".

Although in many countries this innocent mistake could have been laughed off, in China, a country whose culture highly prizes ancestors, this mistake did not go over well with local consumers.

Western companies mainly continue to succeed internationally mostly because they are persistent and can recover from reputation damaging mistakes in Asian markets thanks to the local forgiving behaviour mentioned above.

Datawords with 15 years of experience in Chinese localization is currently helping international companies in various industries to reach the local costumers in the right way.

Please don't hesitate to comment, share and of course contact me for additional information.

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