We have previously covered why culturalization is often necessary to unlock global success for brands and product launches in new markets. Now let’s analyze whether this strategy has an actual impact on ROI. After all, that is the ultimate goal when you expand globally.
What is culturalization and when is it needed?
Let’s start from the beginning. What is culturalization and when is it needed? Culturalization takes translation a step further to make linguistic and non-linguistic changes that can make an impact. This may include changing imagery, colors, jokes, music, or cultural references to better suit a target audience.
Some real-life examples of culturalization can be seen in the video game Age of Empires and the movie Inside Out. In 1997 Age of Empires was released and featured a historical event in which Japanese forces from the Yamato dynasty invaded the Korean peninsula and took over the Joseon Empire during the Middle Ages. The problem? While the majority of historians believe this event occurred, the Korean Ministry of Information claims it never happened. In order to launch this game successfully in Korea, Microsoft had to decide if they would change history in order to make their game appeal to this new target audience or maintain historical accuracy. In the end, Microsoft’s solution was to release a Korea-only patch that changed that specific scenario to having the Joseon Empire invade Japan (which never happened).
In the film Inside Out, a father tries to feed his toddler broccoli but the child dislikes it. This is a relatable and funny scene in the US where many kids don’t like broccoli. However, in Japan, children don’t have the same dislike of broccoli, but they do dislike bell peppers. In the Japanese version of the movie, the broccoli was swapped with bell peppers to make the scene as impactful in Japan as it was in the US. Including broccoli in the Japanese version of the film wouldn’t have caused offense, but it also wouldn’t have had as much of an impact. These two examples show the different solutions culturalization can bring to the table.
How culturalization improves ROI
If we want to discuss culturalization ROI, what we really need to consider is whether building relationships with customers and strengthening a bond with them really impacts your ROI in the long run (this is known as “relationship marketing”). Understanding the culture and values of an audience, as well as what drives potential clients in a certain market becomes crucial if you want to create a bond with them and nurture those relationships.
If your product does not take into account the particularities of a target audience, no matter how good the product is, it has very little chance of being successful. This is because two things can occur. It can fall flat or it can cause offense unintentionally—either way it fails.
Why Culturalization and Not Just Translation
When you incorporate culturalization into your global expansion strategy, you’re making sure that your product will be well-received and you won’t be getting yourself in trouble. Essentially, culturalization sets your product up for success.
The whole point of culturalization is adapting content to appeal to specific markets and cultures. If you stop at the translation or localization step, you may discover that your content or product is not attractive to a given audience and therefore your efforts have been in vain. Yes, they will be able to understand it, but they won’t be motivated to engage with it in a meaningful manner. Especially not to an extent that will make them want to continuously consume your content or buy your product.
If your content is good and is culturally appropriate, chances are you’ll get more clicks, more conversions, and ultimately a good ROI. Additionally, you will have strengthened your brand, as well as gained loyal customers that can become your local advocates everywhere. All of which can help you find global success.