Consumer preferences in the USA, China, Japan, or Europe are very different. It is justified due to cultures, religions, lifestyles, legislation, business principles, and many other factors.
Understanding customer profiles is the foundation of the localization process and is a crucial prerequisite for successful global expansion. If there is no understanding of your potential client, the chance to create content close to the culture and social context tends to be zero. The ready customer/user portrait simplifies the localization process because you fully predict the final result and can prepare the style guide for translators, the list of the terms for the glossary, and provide a clear task for the design team.
Remember: you can use the data you have in your current market but avoid falling into the trap of jumping to conclusions. Differences between world regions can surprise you — consider the average check, salary, and purchasing power by gender and age.
An example is McDonalds' - the world's largest fast-food chain. They provide the service concerning each region by adding specific dishes. Respecting local customs, McDonald's restaurants in Arab countries serve food by Islamic food preparation laws. Also, there are no figures or posters of Ronald McDonald and other people in restaurants, as the Islamic faith forbids this.
Let's start from...the start
In the localization process, you have two general tasks. On the one hand, you should make your product comfortable and culture close for the audience. On the other hand, you should keep the original business voice and perception the company already has.
Before we dive into this topic, let's establish some terms:
A target audience portrait is a combination of characteristics of different segments of potential customers.
Customers' segments - are groups combined according to similar characteristics: age, location, gender, job, interests, purchases, and others.
Customer portrait (Customer Profile) - is a detailed description of your user. The customer profile represents the ideal customer for each segment.
So based on the information above, to understand who your customers are and start preparing the localization strategy correct, you need to pass three steps:
- Prepare the audience portrait.
- Segment the audience portrait.
- Create the user portrait for each segment.
Little things matter. In 2006 Walmart - the giant in the USA failed in Germany. One reason that analytics found is that the USA culture (Walmart hired the USA managers initially) differs from German customers. For example, the permanent smile was not close to the German people. The chain of issues led to Walmart losing $1 billion and have left the German market.
Step 1 -create the audience portrait
Note: remember that your audience is a group of people who have some needs that can be closed by your offer.
The process will be more straightforward if you know your current market's marketing figures and customers. We described a few methods to help you prepare the audience portrait.
- Monitor the market. Analyze your competitors and their users, and buyers. Take your attention to the audience who buy similar products and try to find things that unite all these people. That can be age, gender, habits, or whatever.
- Use search engines. In Google Trends, you can check how often people search for phrases related to your product, software, etc. Monitor forums and Q&A websites, research reviews about your future competitors.
- Create the testing advertisement campaigns to make sure you get a response from the users you targeted.
- Conduct a survey. Use a focus group or hire an agency that can help you find test takers.
Step 2 - segmentation
An equally important step. No one can offer the same things to the entire audience. Again by the McDonald's example, we will show you how they cover the different needs of their clients. So we have:
- toys for families with small children,
- free WiFi for students,
- burgers for the low and middle class (pricing policy is differ based on the country),
- McDrive for drivers who want fast food,
- and more and more
Of course, these groups are mixing somewhere, but McDonalds' try to cover as many people's needs as it can in the niche.
So, let's look at how we can segment audiences to understand for whom and how we will sell the product.
Philip Kotler method.
Segment your audience according to significant parameters like:
- geo (region, population density, climate,...),
- psychographics (lifestyle, personality type,...),
- behavioral (reason for making a purchase or use the product, consumption intensity, degree of commitment,...)
- demographical (age, gender, family life cycle stage, income level,...)
5W Method by Mark Sherrington.
Answer five questions to separate your audience into different segments:
- who is the client?
- what do you offer, or what does the client want to receive;
- why the client needs it and what pains your offer "closes";
- when your product is required;
- where customers get to know your product.
How to check if segmentation is done correctly?
If you want to recheck if segmentation was done correctly, check the following things - are the people from the one audience responding to your offer equally?
Step 3 - prepare the clients' portrait
The client portrait is the quintessence of your segmentation. It is your ideal customer that represents the entire segment. Based on the type of business, you need to prepare a list of data (remember that b2b, b2c, or b2e require different data for client portraits):
- social status,
- technology (whether there is a mobile phone, whether the Internet connection is good)
Based on this information, you will be able to organize the localization style guides for different audiences and simplify the content adaptation process for the whole team. Let's look at the example of the style guide for the writers.
To finalize all research, you can recheck how your conclusions correspond to reality using the following methods:
- Observations. Look at a person's behavior: how he works, what he does, etc.
- Interview + UX. Scripts are used either with an existing product to understand the problem with consumption or with a potential outcome.
- Focus groups.
- Polls. You can create a Google Form with a survey and drive traffic. After completing the study, you must look at the relevant audience and see the big picture.
- A/B tests. We test different prices on the site, other content titles, different advertising platforms, and so on.
Keep in mind
In this paragraph, we combined the most general things you should take care of during the localization and the customer description process:
- the average salary in comparison with the exporting country (you may have to revise your pricing policy or offer your product to an audience with other solvency)
- fonts - some fonts you are already using can not be supported in other languages;
- culture nuances like colors, symbols, etc.;
- day and time format;
- technical things or legislation (an example is the Gum Ban restriction in Singapore - agree it will be strange to place ads or images where the gum is present)
Understanding your customers in the new market is the first step to successful global expansion. For the next steps, Lingohub will support you. Our translation management system combines all the best to contain all the data you have about your product and quickly and conveniently share it with your team. Create the rules with quality checks, provide correct spelling for any definition with the term base, test the translations in the design prototypes with simple Figma integration, and many more. Contact us or schedule a demo and let's grow together.