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Localisation Success Stories: Companies That Aced It

Updated: Feb 7


Ioanna Chatzidavidou is the author of the article titled : Localisation success stories and companies that ace it

Publication date: 06.08.2023




Why Companies' Localisation is a Must-Have in Today's Global Economy


In today's competitive global market, major companies are constantly seeking opportunities to expand their reach and connect with more customers. Moreover, with an abundance of impressive brands and ever-increasing customer expectations, standing out from the crowd has become more critical than ever. While expanding into new markets is an essential step, it alone doesn’t guarantee success.


The key lies in recognizing that no two countries share the same cultural norms, ethical values, lifestyles, or purchasing habits. Indeed, cultural nuances vary greatly worldwide, and understanding these differences is paramount for successfully introducing a product in a new region. This is where companies localisation steps in as a vital component of a company's marketing strategy.


Decoding Localization: Exploring the Definition and Purpose


The practice of adapting content or products to specific regions emerged in the 1980s. In fact, it was when American software companies expanded their reach to international markets. Also, localization, often referred to as l10n, goes beyond translation. Without a doubt, a well-executed localisation strategy involves more than just language translation. Actually, it encompasses various elements such as graphics, colors, logos, currencies, and cultural context. Thus, it can create a native-like experience for local users.


Localization is a multifaceted process that requires attention to detail, even in the choice of colors. For example, the interpretation of colors like red varies across cultures. More specifically, it represents passion and love in Western cultures but signals danger and caution in the Middle East. So, successful localization is definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach.


Localization Champions: Companies That Achieved Global Triumph


Creating a unique, personalized, and authentic experience is at the core of successful global brands. Achieving this requires a localization strategy that prioritizes the needs of individual users, making them feel welcomed. Companies that have excelled in globalizing their brands have done so by implementing well-thought-out internationalization and localization strategies. Let’s give now some compelling examples of companies that have mastered the art of localization, offering valuable insights into their success stories:


Netflix


Netflix understands the importance of tailored content based on geolocation to provide an exceptional viewing experience. Therefore, by analyzing cultural influences and entertainment trends, Netflix continually enhances the user experience in every market. Netflix curates local-language programming and content, ensuring that viewers receive content that resonates with their cultural context. This specifically includes offering localized subtitles and dubbing for existing programs.


Netflix using localisation strategy

Even the homepage and movie recommendations are personalized based on a user's location and language preferences. Taking localization to the next level, Netflix even started producing original content in various countries, such as Turkey, Japan, Sweden, Spain, etc. Additionally, Netflix adapts its pricing to fit each locale's income levels, tailoring subscription plans accordingly. For instance, the price for a basic subscription in Denmark is $11.50, while in Pakistan the price is as low as $2.50.


Airbnb


Airbnb exemplifies the power of localization in its quest to provide a consistent and authentic experience to users worldwide. With support for 26 languages, it ensures that regardless of the language or destination, users receive the same seamless experience. Additionally, Airbnb takes into account local factors such as currencies, credit cards, and listing descriptions in the local language. Beyond a doubt, this made users feel at home no matter where they travel. Further, in China, Airbnb successfully localized its signup methods by accepting login credentials from platforms like Weibo and WeChat.


Airbnb also took localization to a deeper level by translating user-generated content, including listing information and reviews. Moreover, it went the extra mile by offering local travel guides with valuable tips and must-see places, all delivered in the preferred language. What’s more, Airbnb collaborates with local photographers and content providers to create genuine and compelling content. This approach ensures that marketing campaigns are developed alongside locals, fostering authenticity and relevance.


Spotify


Spotify, one of the leading providers of music streaming services, has an interesting strategy when it comes to approaching new markets – image localization. Clearly, the aim is to make Spotify look perfect and resonate with users no matter where they are. But it doesn't stop there. In fact, Spotify invests a significant amount of time and effort in adapting content specifically for each audience. In other words, it focuses on helping listeners to discover the music they prefer.


One thing that sets Spotify apart is its renowned playlists. While certain playlists may share a common theme across multiple markets, the songs included can differ greatly. For instance, a playlist titled "Songs for a Road Trip" in Portugal may feature different songs than in Sweden. Thus, this attention to detail and customization adds to the allure of Spotify, making it a go-to platform for music lovers seeking a tailored listening experience.


Starbucks


Starbucks understands that coffee-drinking culture and style differ across various countries. To oblige the diverse demands of international customers, Starbucks has devised separate menus for different regions. For example, some countries lean towards tea rather than coffee. Thus, to cater to the tea preference in India, Starbucks offers Tata's branded tea called Teavana. Likewise, Japan, known for its distinctive tastes, enjoys matcha frappuccino and innovative offerings like cookie crumble with white pudding.

Starbucks using localisation strategy

In addition, recognizing the Indian habit of consuming tea alongside food, Starbucks has introduced Indian dishes like the Konkani Twist and Reshmi Kebab Roll. Similarly, noticing how important coffee is in Italy, Starbucks has opened a high-end Roastery in Milan. Afterward, it started collaborating with an Italian baker to provide delicious food offerings. Starbucks’ market-specific strategy and localization plan went above and beyond. 


By considering local preferences, values, and cultural nuances, Starbucks has strategically designed its stores to attract maximum customer attention. In Europe, Starbucks allows you to enjoy coffee within the coffee shop, fostering a relaxed atmosphere for socializing, studying, or working. In contrast, in the USA, where speed is valued, Starbucks focuses on takeaways, offering drive-throughs and efficient service for on-the-go customers.


Domino’s Pizza


Domino's localization strategy revolves around understanding and adapting to cultural beliefs, as well as the unique tastes of local markets. This approach has led Domino's to create customized recipes that align with the local culinary customs and palates. In India, Domino's realized that traditional Western-style pizzas would not resonate with Indian customers. So, it went that extra step, prompting the introduction of flavors like chicken tikka masala, paneer tikka, and paneer do pyaza.

In addition, in Malaysia, where beef and pork are prohibited, Domino's outlets adhere to the non-inclusion of non-halal meat. In the same way, Iceland's menu showcases an exciting twist with pizzas featuring Doritos-like chips, adding a unique element to the food escapade. In response to the growing number of vegans in Australia, Domino's launched a range of vegan and vegetarian plant-based pizzas. Also in Ukraine, Domino's Pies offer a delightful treat for those with a penchant for all things sweet. These pies come in four irresistible fillings: poppy seed, cherry with cinnamon, apple, and cottage cheese with vanilla and apricot.


Tinder


Tinder, the trendy online dating mobile app, has found success by leveraging machine translation (MT) technology. Interestingly, the company has chosen to maintain a consistent design across all languages. The images and page layout remain the same, with only the text being translated into various target languages.

This innovative feature enables users to chat and connect with others who speak different languages. Moreover, with the help of MT, text messages are automatically translated, facilitating conversations even when two individuals don't share a common language. Therefore, this language barrier-breaking capability enhances the user experience and fosters connections throughout the world.


Uber


Uber has achieved great success through its effective localization strategies, expanding its presence to over 10,000 cities worldwide. While many perceive Uber solely as a platform for car rentals, it offers much more. In certain countries like Thailand, Uber provides motorbike taxi services. Moreover, in places like Egypt and Greece, it launched UberBOAT, enabling users to hail boats for transportation on rivers or seas. Recognizing the need to accommodate older and non-smartphone users, Uber initiated a test program in Arizona. The program allowed riders to request rides through a 1-800 phone number.

Uber is using localisation strategy

Besides that, in order to cater to local tastes, Uber has customized the user interface in different regions. Notably, in China, where red symbolizes luck, Uber adopted bright red car icons in their app instead of the typical black or gray. Undoubtedly, by adapting to local preferences and needs, Uber excelled at captivating diverse markets. Therefore today, it offers one of the most tailored and enjoyable ride-hailing experiences.


Tripadvisor


Tripadvisor, one of the leading travel guidance platforms, stands above because of its extensive language options. Acknowledging that languages may have different varieties, Tripadvisor offers users the ability to choose from various languages tailored to specific regions.

For example, users can select between Mexican Spanish and European Spanish, or between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese. This attention to language variations ensures a more personalized and relevant experience for users. As a result, Tripadvisor has become a favored platform for travelers internationally.


Wikipedia


Wikipedia, the renowned online encyclopedia, stands out as one of the most localized websites globally, with availability in over 320 languages. Its primary mission is to provide information and share knowledge without any language barriers. To achieve this goal, Wikipedia has developed a remarkable translation tool accessible to any internet user. In fact, this tool empowers individuals to translate existing articles into different languages. So, with its user-generated translations, Wikipedia continues to spread valuable information to a wide audience across the globe regardless of language.


Coca-Cola


With over 200 country-specific domains, Coca-Cola ensures easy access to its website for its global audience. When visiting the Coca-Cola website from different regions, it becomes evident that the entire website, including the design, is tailored to suit the local audience. A notable example of Coca-Cola's localization prowess is demonstrated through the "Share a Coke" campaign. However, names were replaced in every country, so you could find the printed "Share a Coke with Aoife" in Ireland, while in Greece the "Share a Coke with Giannis". In China, where using personal names is considered disrespectful, Coca-Cola substituted names with phrases like "classmate" and "close friend" to foster direct connections.

Coca Cola is using localisation strategy

Moreover, Coca-Cola excels in marketing localization. They achieve this by introducing region-specific product variants such as spiced buttermilk for India, cream soda for South Africa, and ginger drinks for Australia. These impressive localization efforts reflect Coca-Cola's commitment to connecting with consumers on a cultural level, elevating its brand presence worldwide.


Nintendo


Video game localization is one of the most difficult types of localisation and poses significant challenges. Consistency is an essential part of any translation progress. In fact, many gaming companies don’t manage to fulfill the expectations of local gamers, but not Nintendo. Unlike other companies, Nintendo integrates localization discussions during the game's creation and design phase. Instead of completing the game first and then localizing it, Nintendo does the localization and the development simultaneously. Hence, by embracing this strategy, Nintendo aims to deliver an immersive gaming experience that complies with the expectations of gamers globally.


Samsung


The key to Samsung's localization strategy lies in its understanding of how people from different regions approach technology. Samsung’s commitment is to meet the specific needs of every consumer, considering the technological preferences and practices of their country of origin. For example, in South Korea, Samsung developed a customized refrigerator that ensures optimal airflow and temperature for preserving Kimchi.

Furthermore, in the Middle East, where temperatures can soar above 40 degrees Celsius, Samsung designed air conditioners with specially crafted compressors. As a result, Samsung’s approach to localization is reflected in its dedication to delivering tailored solutions that make daily life easier.


Slack


Slack, the popular communication app designed for intra-team communications, has taken a significant step towards global accessibility. Slack has embraced localization by making its app available in multiple languages. In particular, this strategic move aims to break down language barriers and foster greater user engagement on a global scale. With localization at the forefront of its strategy, Slack seeks to attract a broader user base and provide a smooth communication experience for teams worldwide.


Conclusion


To sum up, we understand that there is not only one way to achieve perfect localization. Correspondingly, localization involves careful consideration of various factors before formulating a strategy. Actually, it encompasses much more than mere word translations. Without a doubt, it requires creativity, boldness, and inventiveness to create immersive experiences that resonate with the local audience.

A well-executed localization strategy can not only boost sales in new markets but also enhance brand recognition. Through thorough market research and a deep understanding of the target audience, businesses connect effectively with global customers. In conclusion, the success stories of these companies demonstrate that a robust localization strategy has the potential to fuel substantial business growth worldwide. Such strategies can significantly impact a company's global expansion efforts.


 

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