Marketing Translation, Consumer Behaviour, and Localisation: Quite a Dynamite Package
When it comes to marketing translation, there are so many confusing terms around! Logically, most people are unsure of their meaning. It’s important, therefore, to establish a difference between concepts like translation, localisation, transcreation, marketing translation, and others.
Translation or localisation?
In simple words, translation means re-expressing meaning. Usually word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase, translators transfer the meaning of a source-language text in an equivalent target-language text. For example, the phrase “I love you” translates into German as “Ich liebe dich”. Into French, it translates as “Je t’aime”.
Localisation includes translation but takes it one step further by adapting content and design to what’s locally acceptable and familiar among the target audience. In other words, the content is adapted for local consumption. The purpose is to make it resonate with the target audience and to endow it with a local feel.
We use translation when the source and target texts need to match exactly and literally. It may be the case of an instruction manual, an e-mail, an informed consent form, etc. Basically, we are speaking of a very literal rendering of the source message into the target language.
We use localisation when the text contains elements that need adapting to the target culture. Some of those elements might relate to setting the default currency, numerical systems, and date format; adapting images that need to resonate locally; finding equivalent symbols for certain meanings; even changing emojis! (Ever wondered if emojis will ever become an independent language? You might want to check out this post). Therefore, we frequently use localisation for evocative content aimed at eliciting an emotional response in the reader. It is the case of websites, mobile apps, blog posts, etc.
Are localisation and transcreation synonyms? Nope. But they do have a few things in common. Localisation aims at making your audience feel that the content has been produced locally, speaks directly to them, and adapts to their customs. Something like accepting local payment methods by partnering up with local businesses constitutes localisation. By eliminating the feeling of foreignness, localisation drives conversion up.
By contrast, transcreation is not as concerned with UX as localisation is, and goes even further than localisation in terms of appealing to the target customer because it focuses on the emotional impact of the message and the emotion it elicits in the audience.
The aim of transcreation is eliciting the same reaction and emotional response in each target market as the one consumers experience in the source market. In other words, we are speaking of rebuilding copy from scratch in the target language to appeal to feelings to convert customers.
This is an umbrella term that refers to the translation, localisation, AND transcreation of marketing collateral and copy (understood as the output of copywriters who produce material which encourages consumers to buy goods or services).
Why invest in an expert marketing translator?
When it comes to multilingual marketing, it’s important not to overlook the importance of working with an expert marketing translator. This is particularly so when engaging in
What to expect from an expert marketing translator
When translating marketing materials, it is essential to work with an expert marketing translator. The world of marketing translation and adaptation is complex, and many people often underestimate it. While translation from the source language to the target language is straightforward for a professional translator, there is more to it than meets the eye. In other words, marketing translators must have a unique set of skills to ensure your marketing efforts do not go to waste.
Contrary to the popular belief that translation is simply a regurgitation of the source text in another language, for marketing translation, good writing is essential! Your translator must be able to write appealing and persuasive content in the target language. Moreover, that content needs to have an impact on local audiences and it will (necessarily) differ slightly when directly translated back to the source language. Sometimes, a translator may need to use a creative license to save the intended message of the text, a skill that is specific to an expert marketing translator. For the same reasons, they need to be
When taking on a marketing translation project, the translator must first ensure they have a deep understanding not only of the campaign they’re translating but of the brand itself. As mentioned above, often the source text will need to be altered slightly to protect the message in the target language. This requires a good working knowledge of both marketing
techniques and the brand’s mission.
Understanding of the target audience
As well as having a good understanding of the brand, translators must also be aware of the target audience for the project. This enables them to make well-informed decisions about the correct terminology to use during a project. This way, they ensure the audience both engage with and appreciate the content your brand is showing them. This cultural awareness is what makes a marketing translator stand out from their peers! And this also leaves you safe in the knowledge that your marketing efforts meet your goals. Why? Because your
A marketing translator needs to understand the “behind the scenes” of user interface and user experience. They need to be able to work with tags, placeholders, character limitation, CTAs, etc.
Transcreation is a unique subset of marketing translation that can truly make or break your localisation efforts. Essentially, transcreation combines ‘translation’ with ‘creation’. This way, your translator optimises your marketing copy for its target audience. When starting a transcreation project, a translator must not only translate but make significant changes to the text. How so? Well, they need to improve the understanding of the text in the target market. This is a complicated process and should only be undertaken by an expert!
KPIs of good marketing translation
The only way of measuring the success of a marketing translation in context. ‘What context?’, you might be wondering. Well, the context of a company’s overall marketing goals (independently of the language).
Let’s start with some basics: a digital marketing strategy and a digital marketing campaign are not the same things. The former refers to the actions or steps a company undertakes to fulfil its overall marketing goal/s. On the other hand, the latter is, precisely, such overall marketing goal.
The first step in developing a digital marketing campaign is identifying this goal. On top of that, the company will need to establish the general mission of the campaign. This mission includes a single outcome (“improving brand awareness in the UK”, for example). Moreover, they need measurable goals that are realistic, relevant, and time-bound. For example, “increasing online sales in the UK by 30% before May 2021.”
This is where KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) come into play. As defined by Kilpfolio, a Key Performance Indicator is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. KPIs measure value in all languages!
So… what’s the implication for translators? Well… a good marketing translator should be able to stay faithful to the business digital marketing strategy and campaign,and to yield the same measurable results and KPIs in the target language. This is how the company will determine if their localisation Return on Investment (ROI) is high enough for them to continue localising their content for other markets.
Questions worth asking in marketing translation
The responsibility of a marketing translator is quite big, as you can see. Are page views in the target language as high as in the source language? How fast is the customer base growing in the target market compared to the original market? What’s the conversion rate for the localised version of the website or app? How is social media engagement looking for social media posts in the target language? Marketing translators need to ask themselves all these questions.
Clients will be assessing all these KPIs and more, and expert marketing translators need to live up to clients’ expectations.
Consumer behaviour and culture: Implications for marketing
As a result of globalisation, marketing research has been focusing a lot on the influence of culture on consumer behaviour. It has been concluded that culture is a determinant of consumer behaviour. For that reason, consumers’ cultural values play an important role in the formulation of international marketing strategies (Fisher et al., 2010). These values, which go beyond mere personal beliefs, may influence consumers’ perception about a business. Therefore, if companies want to succeed in international markets, they need to take cultural differences into account. Otherwise, they risk triggering negative reactions in the target market.
The self-congruity theory and consumer behaviour
The self-congruity theory proposes that consumers choose products and brands with symbolic meanings, and which are congruent with their own beliefs and behaviours (Sirgy, 1982, 1985; Litvin and Kar, 2004). Consequently, cultural symbols and meanings take a central position. Simply put, when marketing abroad, a brand should ensure that all communications reflect the cultural values of the targeted consumers.
Moreover, self-congruity plays an essential role in perceived brand personality, as explained in this research paper:
Self-congruity is “the match between the product’s value-expressive attributes (product-user image, or the image associated with the expected user of a product) and the audience’s self-concept” (Johar & Sirgy, 1991, p. 24). Self-concept, according to self-congruity theory, influences consumer behavior in a way that results in the purchase of a product (Johar & Sirgy, 1989).
For example, a certain brand of shoe may have a product-user image of the outgoing, youthful, and active user, and potential consumers may think of themselves as having the same qualities—they believe they are also outgoing, youthful, and active. This is a case where there is congruence between the product-user image and the actual self-image of the consumer.
Brand personality is “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand” (Aaker, 1997, p. 347). In other words, consumers tend to think of brands in terms of human characteristics.
However, whereas human personality traits relate to a person’s attitudes, behaviour, beliefs, physical attributes, and demographic characteristics (Aaker, 1997), brand personality traits are formed solely through communication. There is usually nothing intrinsic to a brand that makes it one way or another. Instead, companies find ways, through marketing, to come across as, for example, young and innovative.
No brand wants to come across as disrespectful. Or patronising. Or any other negative attributes. And it’s precisely then when cultural literacy comes in handy. In other words, by understanding the set of shared knowledge and implicit theories about the world, including beliefs, values, attitudes and other constructs (Hong et al., 2000, Sharma, 2010), companies can build trust in their consumers. Why is building trust useful? Well, because it translates into more sales.
Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory and consumer behaviour
The Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory, developed by Dutch management researcher Geert Hofstede in 1980, is a framework to understand the dimensions in which cultures vary in respect to one another.
Hofstede’s instrument proves useful for exploring the cross-cultural differences in consumer behaviour. He identified six categories that define culture:
- Power Distance Index
- Collectivism vs. Individualism
- Uncertainty Avoidance Index
- Femininity vs. Masculinity
- Short-Term vs. Long-Term Orientation
- Restraint vs. Indulgence
Because there’s a lot to say about Heftede’s model, we will address it in detail in our next blog post. Stay tuned!
Marketing translation to the rescue
If consumers buy from brands they perceive to be congruent with their personal and cultural beliefs, and brands shape their personality through communication and rhetoric, the conclusion is that marketing translation (using localisation and transcreation as its main strategies) is the main tool for impacting customer behaviour across cultural divides.
We hope this article has helped you clear your questions! Otherwise, please do let us know in the comments. Happy translating!