Adapt or Fail: Why Localization Strategies Are Vital For Global Success

Pollion Team

Localization strategy refers to adapting a product or service to meet the needs and preferences of customers in a specific local market. It involves tailoring your offerings to resonate with the local language, culture, customs, and purchasing habits. Implementing an effective localization strategy is crucial for companies looking to expand globally. It enhances the overall user experience and helps build trust and engagement with international audiences. According to Common Sense Advisory, companies that localize their websites see an average increase in international traffic of 129%. Leading brands like Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, and Coca-Cola have found great success by employing thoughtful localization strategies. This article will explore 10 compelling examples of how top companies are localizing their products, marketing, and experiences to connect with diverse global markets.

Read More: Effective Translations and Localization for Middle Eastern Countries

Airbnb

Airbnb, Localization Strategies

Airbnb operates in over 220 countries and regions. The company attributes much of its rapid global growth to implementing an authentic localization strategy. Some key aspects of Airbnb’s approach include:

  • Translated platform – Airbnb’s website and mobile app are available in over 60 languages. This vastly expands their accessible market.
  • Localized content – User reviews, host listings, and other user-generated content are translated to reflect local languages and culture.
  • Tailored guides – After selecting a destination, guests receive personalized guides highlighting local attractions, neighbourhoods, and recommendations.
  • Partnerships – Airbnb forms partnerships tailored to each region. For example, their ecosystem program in Japan helps hosts meet guest expectations.
  • Cultural understanding – Airbnb makes an effort to accommodate cultural norms. In Japan, they provide specialized cleaning services since deep cleaning between guests is expected. Airbnb’s localization initiatives create more authentic, locally relevant experiences for guests while also helping hosts successfully cater to foreign visitors.

Netflix

Netflix, Localization Strategies

With over 220 million subscribers globally, Netflix is the world’s leading streaming entertainment service. Netflix’s investment in localization has been a key driver fueling their international growth. Some highlights of their localization strategy include:

  • Subtitles & dubs – Netflix offers subtitles and dubs in over 30 languages. This makes content more accessible for non-native speakers.
  • Localized content – Over 35% of Netflix’s library is non-English content. They analyze each market to create region-specific original series and films.
  • Cultural expertise – Netflix employs teams with specialized cultural expertise to inform localization decisions. For example, expertise in Japanese culture and anime helps acquisition choices.
  • Catalogue variations – The content library varies by country based on regional rights and perceived audience appeal. The catalogue in the UK differs from Canada, for instance.
  • Interface translation – Netflix’s entire interface is available in 31 different languages. Users encounter a familiar, localized experience. By adapting its platform and content offering for distinct cultures, Netflix taps into more markets and keeps subscribers engaged.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola

As one of the most globally recognized brands, Coca-Cola prioritizes localization across all consumer touchpoints. Notable aspects of their strategy include:

  • Translated website – Coca-Cola’s website is fully translated into over 40 languages, making their brand accessible worldwide.
  • Tailored marketing – Global campaigns like Share a Coke are executed with localized names and relationship terms on bottles for each country.
  • Regional websites – Coca-Cola operates over 200 regional websites worldwide, each customized for local culture and language.
  • Product innovations – New products and flavours are developed based on regional taste preferences and customs. For example, lychee and chilli pepper flavours appeal to Chinese consumers.
  • Partnerships – Local bottling partners produce and distribute products suiting local contexts. This ensures effective execution. Through well-rounded localization efforts, Coca-Cola maintains universal appeal and adoption despite serving diverse markets.

Spotify

Spotify,

With 433 million active monthly users, Spotify is one of the top global music streaming platforms. Spotify attributes their rapid expansion partially to robust localization efforts. Key aspects of their approach include:

  • Platform translation – Spotify is available in 78 languages across 183 markets. This supports global growth.
  • Localized playlists – Editors create thousands of localized playlists featuring regionally popular artists and genres. This caters to local tastes.
  • Regional pricing – Subscription plans are priced appropriately based on economic contexts. This enables wider adoption.
  • Local influencers – Spotify collaborates with local influencers, artists, and brands to connect with each market authentically.
  • Cultural expertise – Regional teams provide cultural expertise to guide marketing, content, and user experience decisions. By offering a locally tailored experience, Spotify resonates with more users worldwide. Localization is central to their global music community.

Read More: Common Localization Mistakes to Avoid for a Hassle-Free Global Launch

KFC

KFC

With over 25,000 locations globally, KFC is one of the most ubiquitous fast food brands worldwide. Localization underpins their continued international expansion. Notable localization tactics include:

  • Menu variation – Menus are tailored to local tastes. KFCs in Asia offer soups, porridge, and soy milk drinks, for example.
  • Local ingredients – Recipes incorporate ingredients that resonate culturally. KFC Japan uses rice buns for burgers instead of bread.
  • Regional partnerships – Co-branding with regional brands builds affinity. KFC Canada partners with French’s Ketchup.
  • Cultural fluency – Marketing campaigns reference local pop culture. In China, KFC leveraged nostalgia by bringing back 1980’s packaging designs.
  • Store design – Locations blend localized design with brand continuity. For instance, KFC France incorporates French colonial architectural elements. KFC’s glocalization strategy balances brand consistency with local relevance across markets. This helps them maintain global dominance.

Nintendo

Nintendo

As a Japanese video game company, Nintendo faced major localization challenges entering Western markets. Their approach centers on retaining cultural integrity. Key aspects include:

  • Simultaneous development – Nintendo’s teams localize games in tandem with core development instead of post-production. This enables better cultural adaptation.
  • Minimal content changes – Nintendo alters as little content as possible from original versions. This preserves creative intent and cultural context.
  • Cultural expertise – In-house localization experts provide guidance on adapting humor, slogans, and other content for regions. This ensures resonance.
  • User testing – Localized games undergo extensive user testing. Feedback informs iterative changes to perfect gameplay experiences.
  • Linguistic finesse – Nintendo prioritizes nuanced translation suited for interactive media over direct translation. This delivers more immersion. Nintendo’s strategy balances delivering resonance worldwide while retaining the company’s Japanese origins and vision.

ASOS

ASOS

ASOS is a UK-based ecommerce fashion retailer shipping to over 200 markets globally. Their early investment in localization has enabled tremendous international growth. Key localization aspects include:

  • Language support – The ASOS website and app are fully translated into 5 languages. This drives engagement across Europe, Asia and the US.
  • Regional websites – ASOS operates country-specific websites localized for language, currency, payment methods, shipping prices and other details.
  • Cross-border experience – Users can seamlessly shop in any region. Their home currency, language and shipping options are remembered.
  • Payments & shipping – ASOS accepts over 45 international payment methods and ships worldwide from fulfillment centers in the UK, US and Europe.
  • Customer service – Multilingual customer service reps provide locally-relevant assistance worldwide via email, social media, and chat. ASOS’s frictionless localized shopping experience makes them accessible and trusted across borders. Over 75% of sales now come from outside the UK.

Revolut

Revolut

Fintech startup Revolut provides digital banking services to over 20 million customers worldwide. Localization is a key enabler of their global traction. Revolut localizes across dimensions including:

  • Language support – Revolut’s app is fully localized into 10 languages, expanding into new markets. Ukrainian language support was added quickly amidst the war.
  • Country operations – Revolut secures licenses to operate as a digital bank within each region. This builds legitimacy and trust.
  • Customer service – In-country customer service reps provide personalized, native-language support via call, chat, social media.
  • Curated offerings – Revolut curates localized features and services suited to each market. For example, Revolut Canada focuses on US cross-border money transfers.
  • Marketing – Revolut adapts branding and messaging to align with regional preferences. Their lighthearted tone resonates particularly well across Europe. Revolut’s emphasis on complete localization drives acquisition and loyalty across diverse global markets.

H&M

H&M

With over 5,000 stores across 74 countries, H&M is a leading global fashion retailer. Localization underpins their worldwide growth. Notable aspects include:

  • Language support – H&M’s website and app are fully localized into 51 languages including Vietnamese, Arabic, and Hebrew.
  • Regional merchandise – Inventory at each store is curated based on local sizing, climate, styles, and preferences indicated by customer data.
  • Localized marketing – Campaigns reference local pop culture and trends. H&M Korea leveraged the Squid Game craze in their messaging.
  • Inclusive marketing – Marketing visuals highlight diversity reflective of each market. H&M conveys their values while staying locally relevant.
  • Payment & delivery – H&M accepts over a hundred local payment methods. Their online store ships to 100+ markets with duties and returns prepaid. H&M embeds localization within every aspect of their business globally. This enables them to stay attuned and responsive to over 190 million loyal customers worldwide.

Key Takeaways

Implementing thoughtful localization strategies has proven instrumental to growth, engagement and trust for leading global brands across industries. Key insights include:

  • Go beyond translation – Effective localization requires a deep understanding of language, cultural norms, trends, and regional differences. Moving beyond simple translation is key.
  • Balance standardization – While localization is crucial, maintaining brand continuity, vision and values worldwide is also important. The right balance depends on the company and industry.
  • Localize comprehensively – Localization should encompass the full experience across marketing, product, visuals, customer service, payments, delivery and more. Holistic initiatives drive impact.
  • Empower regional teams – Global teams guide strategy, but local teams should inform tactical decisions. Their on-the-ground expertise is invaluable.
  • Test and optimize – Localization requires ongoing testing and optimization based on data and user feedback. Meet users’ needs better over time. Does this help summarize some compelling localization examples and strategies? Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify the article in any way. I’m happy to keep refining the content.
Tags: Localization Strategies
Audio and Video Translation

Audio and Video Translation

We live in a world that’s increasingly becoming interconnected, yet languages still act as barriers to communication. For this reason, language...