|4 Min. Read||Chris Hutchins||October 21, 2020|
In the first installment of this blog series, we introduced the concepts of standardized and customized approaches to translating marketing and product content for global customers. We also covered why both are necessary for a balanced transnational strategy.
Standardization and customization have different upsides for growing businesses. A “one size fits all” standardized approach to global marketing may ensure efficient, but might not resonate with local customers. By contrast, customization can greatly enhance the customer experience and engagement by catering to local customers’ tastes, but can be challenging to scale.
In this second installment, we’ll explore the importance of strategically leveraging standardization and customization, and ways to help you strike an effective balance between both approaches.
While it’s tempting for companies to dramatically shift their global marketing and product approaches in the direction of standardization or customization, the pendulum shouldn’t swing too far either way.
Consider the case of a popular travel brand. It had only one marketing manager in its home market, yet the company attempted to maintain fully customized, translated websites for nearly 40 global markets. These over-localized efforts led to misaligned marketing messaging that weakened the brand’s reputation—resulting in lost sales.
The company then overcompensated by switching to a near-total standardized approach. This made messaging much simpler for in-house content creation and management. But the lack of localized content meant those international websites performed poorly in search engines and didn’t meet local customers’ UX expectations.
On one side of the spectrum, some companies opt for the most standardized approach possible. Coca-Cola is a perfect example of this approach, historically maintaining a universal product line with little to no localization.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are companies like Proctor & Gamble that highly customize their products, online content and marketing for different markets.
Somewhere in the middle are businesses like McDonald’s that choose a balance between the two. McDonald’s is a well-known example of this hybrid approach. It offers a mostly global menu that can be found anywhere. But McDonald’s also incorporates local products to cater to local tastes—such as vegetarian options in India, burbur ayam in Malaysia, and gazpacho in Spain.
Choosing the best hybrid standardization/customization approach takes a mix of hard data, well-planned strategy and understanding your global customers.
But how do you choose how much to shift toward one end of the spectrum or the other?
When it comes to offering the right blend of relevant content, products and services, these questions can point you in the right direction:
Consider how many markets your company currently serves, as well as its expansion plans into new markets. Ask yourself:
Keep in mind that markets may have more differences than you’d expect at first glance.
Companies that offer identical products in every market are less likely to need highly customized content. However:
Products and services aren’t the only things that can differ from market to market. Consider the following:
When the cultures and languages of the markets you’re serving are similar, you don’t need to do much customization. However:
Otherwise, you risk making serious messaging mistakes that can hurt your brand.
Legal requirements may be minor from global market to market, but your content will likely still require some customization. For instance:
All of these requirements may lead to a need for greater customization of your online content. Implement new content changes in every market you’re in.
In the next post, we’ll cover additional strategies and nuances that will help create a balanced standardization/customization hybrid approach that benefits your SEO and engagement, fully complements the customer journey, and more.