Despite the many advancements in marketing technology that have enabled brands to “go global” quickly and easily, the concept of “think globally, act locally” must be purposefully embraced now more than ever. Marketing and delivering experiences globally is often required just to compete, but it’s not enough to win in the enterprise game. Today, brands need to also deliver experiences that demonstrate local authenticity in each target market around the globe, simultaneously. Being able to achieve this at scale is what we call “glocalization”.
Brands earn more trust, and in return greater retention and customer lifetime value, when their content and experiences are delivered in their buyers’ native tongue and in an authentic, relatable manner. SDL, a leader in language translation technology and services, found a striking correlation between a buyer’s trust of a brand, as well as their propensity to spend money via that brand’s website, when all content is translated into their native language. In fact, 80%+ of people are more likely to make a purchase. And in some countries, including Japan and France, 60% of consumers would not buy anything from a website that wasn’t offered in their own language – even if they also know English.
SDL says companies now need to operate in 13 key languages to reach about 80% of the world’s web and mobile users. Depending on your target markets, you may need even more. But while that alone may seem overwhelming, translation is just one piece of the puzzle. Glocalization requires that content and experiences be translated, localized, and personalized all at the same time and in a scalable manner.
Localization, the sometimes-forgotten cousin of translation, is a key piece of the glocal puzzle. Just because two markets speak the same language doesn’t mean they consume or perceive content in the same way. It may be a colloquial term that delights in the US but offends in the UK. It could be the extensive use of red in your app design, meaning love and luck in China, but death and destruction in some of Africa, that halts your attempt at effectively globalizing. Digital experiences need to feel authentic and real to resonate deeply with a person, just like in-person experiences require. This means an experience has to speak to each person the way they like to be spoken to, which is highly-cultural as well as deeply-personal.
Providing culturally-aware-content personalizes experiences at a group level, but localization, translation, and personalization (at an individual level) need to be achieved together to maximize the effectiveness of globalization. Content that achieves all three is content that can speak to the head, the heart, and the soul, creating an emotional connection based on authenticity and trust that is unobtainable otherwise. While some large companies have been able to deliver in this manner previously, it required large marketing expenditures in each market and significant in-country manual work. The goal of glocalization is to enable enterprises to connect with customers in this manner, while leveraging integrated technologies that substantially reduce the cost and effort, in a highly-scalable way, so that brands don’t have to pick just a handful of markets to serve.
Typically, fulfilling this goal with technology involves implementing or integrating robust enterprise platforms for content management (CMS), translation management, customer relationship management (CRM), and likely a machine-learning-enhanced personalization engine. But as with all technology, it is simply a tool. The strategy you develop that drives the use of that tool is the most crucial step. Understanding how to converge multiple leading enterprise technologies with this anthropological approach to customer experience strategy is the key to achieving and delivering on glocalization successfully.
Global brands that can seamlessly connect with every customer in each market in an effective, authentic way, regardless of how many countries, languages, or customers they reach, hold a “glocal” competitive advantage over their simply “global” competitors. And in a world where everyone is going global, experiential differentiation like this can make all the difference.