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The Best of Brand Localisation in the 2010s

in Retail and Ecommerce

In the face of increasing global competition and rapid technological developments, international expansion is a crucial step for businesses looking for new ways to increase revenue. It’s not without its challenges, though, and failing to localise effectively can, at best, mean leaving money on the table, and at worst could lead to significant brand damage.

To be successful, your product, service, or message must resonate with your audience. As well as adapting the language to suit the target market, it’s important to tailor your offering by taking into account the idiosyncrasies of the local culture.

Here, we take inspiration from five brands that nailed localisation in the 2010s and that continue to dominate their industries. If conquering new geographical markets is high on your priority list, read on.

Coca-Cola: Share a Coke

In 2011, Coca-Cola launched its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign in Australia by printing 150 of the country’s most popular names onto bottles with the words ‘Share a Coke with…’ followed by a name.

The aim was to create a more personal relationship with consumers, and it worked. More than 250 million bottles and cans were sold in a country populated by just less than 23 million people.

The campaign was rolled out around the world and names were changed to suit local audiences. In China, further adjustments had to be carefully made to address nuances in the country’s culture whereby it is considered rude to address someone by their first name. Instead, Coca-Cola kept the personal connection by using nicknames, such as ‘close friend’ and ‘classmate’.

Read more about our work with Coca-Cola here.

KitKat: New Flavours for Japan

Nestlé is no stranger to localisation, but by far its greatest triumph is the phenomenal success of KitKat in Japan. Since its release there in 1973, the addition of more than 300 varieties created specifically for the local market has contributed to its meteoric rise to fame.

Sales have risen steadily since 2011 and in 2014, KitKat began opening its Chocolatory stores and welcomed almost a million visitors in just two years. It is now one of Japan’s top-selling chocolate brands.

Nestlé cleverly boosted the success of the chocolate bar when they realised that its name was similar to the phrase ‘Kittu Katsu’, which means ‘you will surely win’ in Japanese. Sales rose every January as KitKats were being given as a good luck gift to students sitting university entrance exams. The company took advantage of the trend and entered into a collaboration with Japan Post, launching the postable KitKat.


Nike: Co-creation Platform

Global sportswear giant Nike has employed a raft of localisation tactics to better engage with local audiences throughout the 2010s.

The company started with its co-creation platform, NIKE iD, which allows customers to customise the design, colour, and performance features of their shoes to suit their own culture and style preferences. Although Nike hasn’t released the sales driven by NIKE iD, it has hailed the platform a key part of its direct-to-consumer strategy.

Nike also made some savvy changes to its local websites. When Portugal won Euro 2016, the company capitalised by featuring a photo of the winning team on homepages around the world. That is, apart from France. As runners up in the competition, Nike recognised that its French audience would unlikely welcome a reminder of their defeat, and chose to omit it from the French website.


Netflix: Localised Content at Scale

With more than 158 million paying customers in over 190 countries, Netflix has shown what can be achieved by experimenting with new localisation models and tools.

The company deeply understands its customers and their cultures and has adjusted its programming strategy to cater to them. Netflix offers audiences local content with a strong emphasis on creating value, and neutralises language in international content through dubbing and subtitling.

It also attributes a significant portion of its success to its intuitive, easy to use, and localized user interface (UI).

Airbnb: Thinking Global, Acting Local

In less than a decade, Airbnb has become the world’s largest marketplace for accommodation and experiences and is now used in more than 191 countries.

According to Jason Katz, an engineer at Airbnb, it is important for the company to be ‘both international and local at the same time’. One of the ways Airbnb has tried to achieve this is through translation, and its efforts are phenomenal. As of the end of 2019, the Airbnb platform was supported by 62 different languages and accessible to over 4 billion native speakers.

To generate translations, the company uses a combination of computers and humans. For its English speaking sites such as Britain, Canada, and Australia, a computer program is used to modify American English into the appropriate style of English for each region. This takes into account spelling variants, like colour and color, as well as vocabulary variants such as lift and elevator.

To avoid any missteps when translating into other languages, the company uses both local employees around the world and members of its community to translate and provide feedback on translations.

Speak to one of our experts today to learn more about how to localise your business.

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