Why insight-driven localisation is a must for today’s global brands

dragon reflecting how localisation captures local cultureChinese New Year dragon illustrating the importance of understanding culture through localisation

In this blog, we ask why today’s global brands need to treat their localisation strategy as a priority. We explore brands who missed the mark with their local activations and the ones who continue to gain brand loyalty in-market through highly effective localised campaigns. And we offer advice for seeking out a localisation partner who can combine local insight with an understanding of your brand goals to deliver lasting results.

Why has localisation become so crucial for global brands?

Today’s consumers expect brands to do more than just provide a great product or service. They want brands to be value-driven global ambassadors whom they can trust.

A 2020 Trust Barometer report by Edelman reveals that trust is second only to price when it comes to driving purchases and brand loyalty. However, brand trust is at all time low around the world. According to Kantar’s Dimension study in 2020 across 8 markets (including China, the US and the UK), only 14% of respondents said they trusted the information about businesses presented by advertisers (source: The Drum).

Localisation allows brands to rebuild that trust by ensuring they understand what matters to local audiences. More than just switching one tagline for another, localisation is what takes a brand from just another company trying to sell a product around the world, to a company who understands each and every one of its global user base. Brands who can deliver local communications that are both creatively brilliant and culturally resonant will drive brand trust and loyalty around the world.

What kind of localisation do global brands need?

All too often, creative and media strategy set by the global head office lacks the local insight needed to create truly engaging, culturally relevant, and compliant campaigns and communications. Thinking about how local audiences will respond to the campaign creative or media activation is an afterthought, often to disastrous effect.

Sometimes, it can create a light-hearted news story, as in 2020 when IKEA released an ad in Saudi Arabia that read: “Create your perfect night’s sleep” in English with Arabic copy below reading: “Same text but in Arabic”. A Twitter user spotted the blunder, which soon went viral. As a response, IKEA edited the ad to say: “This is what happens when you don’t get good sleep. Enjoy your perfect sleep.”

Audiences celebrated IKEA’s ability to embrace their mistake. However, other brands have not been so lucky. For example, in 2019, Muji deeply offended audiences in China when it referred to a historic neighbourhood in Shanghai as the “French Concession”, a term relating to the colonisation of Shanghai in the late 19th century. A disrespectful mistake that wasn’t easily forgotten.

In both instances, if an insight-driven localisation partner had been involved in the overall campaign strategy, these issues would have been easily avoided. Feeding local insight, whether linguistic or cultural, into the campaign planning from the start would have ensured a successful rollout across the globe for both brands.

What is insight-driven localisation?

Insight-driven localisation is about applying local insight to the entire campaign strategy. It encourages brands to learn from local feedback at every stage of a global campaign process so that all creative and media decisions are informed by cultural understanding. Only then can localised content deliver on its global objectives.

Insight-driven localisation should inform both the creative and media strategy. The more you factor in local market needs across creative and media, the less reworking you’ll have to do later on.

Here are a few things to consider:

Creative Strategy

  • Local cultural reality must be considered from the beginning of the creative process, ensuring that your creative idea is not only valid on a global scale but also for your target markets.
  • Carrying out a creative concept test will allow local experts to analyse your idea to see whether it will land locally. Ideally, they’ll provide recommendations on your chosen creative route.
  • A wide pool of in-market specialists will provide the most insight possible into the target markets. Your specialists should include strategists as well as creatives.

Media & Production Strategy

Carry out pre-clearance to make sure that your creative route will pass local clearance regulations later down the line.

  • Think about what channels you’ll be rolling your campaign out across. Get your local teams and in-market specialists to analyse local channels, formats and competitor activity. That way you can make informed decisions, and ensure a relevant user experience locally.
  • If you’re shooting content for your campaign, think about what you might need for local adaptations during the production stage. For example: Are you going to cast local talent? Will you need some footage shot in a local location? How many additional shots will you need per market?

Insight-driven localisation in action

We know that a lot of brands get their localisation wrong by leaving it to the last minute. But there are a number of leading global brands who dedicate themselves to being hyper-relevant in all their markets through insight-driven localisation.

For example, in the first half of 2020, Dior achieved $21.6B in revenue in China by applying localisation strategy to their in-market activations. Dior recognised a strong cultural trend within China towards luxury, qualitative purchases vs cheap, quantitative purchases, creating a bespoke capsule collection for the Double 11 shopping event.

In terms of media, Dior used WeChat (China’s leading social platform) to create hype around the new products and opened a store on Tmall (Alibaba’s online marketplace) in the lead up to 6.18, another of China’s leading online shopping events. (Source: Jing Daily).

Another great example is Nike. Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner campaign in 2018 was highly localised, celebrating London’s youth culture with a location based ad. The video featured subtle local celebrity cameos from Sadiq Khan to Kurupt FM’s MC Grindah. While the look and feel of the ad, including fast cutaways and daring animation, emulated the energy of London’s youth culture. The result was an ad that truly resonated with the city’s young consumers, gaining Nike the #1 trending spot on YouTube and 4.6M video views in just one week (source: Sookio).

As these examples show, great insight-driven localisation combines insight into local cultures (taking into account language, sentiment, social trends, user experiences, celebrity culture etc.) with insight into the global brand identity (taking into account look, tone, feel, ethos, etc.). This results in brand communications that are not only hyper-relevant to local audiences, but are also highly relevant to the global brand.

What makes a successful localisation partner?

A good localisation partner is driven by insight and sees localisation as a long-term strategy leading to increased brand trust and global brand growth.

Your localisation partner should be able to provide you with insights across a scope of areas, including creative and media. They should be culturally competent, living and breathing the local culture of your target markets to empower your brand communications and to protect your brand from any messaging mishaps. Likewise, they should understand your brand inside out, ensuring that all communications are translated, transcreated and adapted in a way that keeps your brand globally consistent.

Above all, they should inspire you to infuse your entire campaign – start to finish – with a local viewpoint, to help you create lasting connections in-market and drive results.

If you’re looking for a localisation partner who’s driven by insight, feel free to get in touch. Our global community of in-market creatives and planners help brands craft marketing strategy fuelled by local reality. At the same time, our team of global creative production experts deliver powerful, localised assets informed by genuine cultural insights.