International customers expect brands to respect their values and cultural backgrounds, making cultural insight the game-changer for successful expansion. Without careful consideration for your audience’s culture, you risk sending a message that most people can’t understand or, even worse, misunderstand.
All the translated content and one-size-fits-all marketing messages that don’t consider cultural differences fall short of triggering the right emotions. In a worst-case scenario, you risk offending people and alienating them from your brand.
Cultural insight enables a brand to build a connection with each local audience and deliver tailored messages through the most suitable channels. From market research to producing content to providing top-notch customer support, they all depend on how you break not just language barriers but also cultural ones to capture and retain the attention of an international audience.
Learning to Acknowledge Cultural Differences
Cultural variations and the language we speak influence people’s interactions with a brand. That’s why, when translating and localizing business content, you need to consider not just the language element but also where in the world you launch your product or service.
Integrating cultural insights into developing a global brand voice helps you close the gap between what you stand for and what local audiences care about. You learn to acknowledge the cultural differences to find the commonalities and use them to build long-term relationships in local markets.
These cultural nuances apply to everything that can impact people’s perceptions of your brand and help you answer questions like:
- What are these people’s lives actually like?
- What general trends are affecting their lives at the moment?
- What products and services are locals currently using, and how happy are they with the results?
- What would they be interested in buying in the future?
- How many people might like your product?
- Where would locals buy your product or service?
- How would they consume it? And where?
- How are their needs different from your current buyers’, and can your product satisfy them?
- What do they think about your product or service and their names, packaging, features, or advertising?
People in different regions will have various answers to most of these questions, as their native languages influence how they think and relate to things. And, by understanding where these differences come from, you get to make your local audiences “seen” and “heard”, with a positive impact on your market share in the long run.
Cultural Insight in Local Market Research
When running local market research, go beyond the market size or competitor analysis and try to understand what capabilities your brand needs to meet the locals’ expectations. Armed with real-world data and working with people who have the cultural insight necessary to put this market research into the proper context, you’re more likely to build a brand that people can connect with regardless of their language.
You need to look for details like openness to new products, age structure, customs and traditions, access to the internet, digital literacy, regulations, and even class membership or corruption to understand what drives buying decisions.
Two things are essential at this stage:
- Make sure you run primary research on local audiences right where people live. Talking to ex-pats or third-party providers can help, but they can’t provide an accurate picture of your target audience.
- Collaborate with locals and language experts to collect and process the data. A lot gets lost in translation, so using AI tools and working with bilingual team members might not be enough to get your message through and obtain an accurate answer. At the same time, working with language experts with experience in market research helps you get consistent results by ensuring that no matter how many times you reword your questions, you’re still sending the right message out there.
Local market research done right enables you to build a solid foundation for your expansion outside national borders with quality data instead of assumptions and misunderstandings due to cultural barriers.
How Can You Best Communicate with Multilingual Audiences?
The short answer: it depends, as every local audience has specific expectations and responds to different triggers. So, you want to make sure you “know” the people you’re targeting to deliver the best possible experience from start to finish.
Cultural insight helps you personalize messages and open relevant conversations with your audience in languages they’re comfortable speaking. At the same time, you want to wrap what people need to know in a message that is not only easy to read, but also to understand and relate to. It means no cultural references people aren’t familiar with, content that can be considered offensive, or biased messages based on stereotypes.
How are cultural insights helpful when setting your products and services up for global success?
- They provide quality data on local expectations so you can improve your product or service to meet people’s needs better.
- They help you find new business opportunities and build country-specific offers.
- They give you clues on how people value your product or service to help you optimize your pricing strategy.
Cultural insight can play an equally crucial role in building a global brand and a content marketing strategy that increases ROI:
- It helps identify the single most crucial benefit upon which your brand should build a marketing strategy.
- It helps you identify how you can best communicate that benefit in each market.
- It helps you find a way to include the new regional markets in your brand’s global mission and vision.
Targeting multilingual audiences can be challenging, especially when you have no direct experience with a local market. Relying on professional language service providers and local experts can help you understand your audience better and get you the market insight necessary to make winning business decisions for your go-to-market strategy.
On the other hand, without cultural insight, it becomes difficult to meet expectations and connect with a foreign audience that lacks the cultural background to understand your brand and what you stand for.