The Importance of Localization

A great discussion on the pitfalls of companies not pursuing a China First strategy:

“Their product design was totally done at their headquarters keeping in mind Western consumers without taking into account the habits and wants of Chinese consumers. Popular Western brands are simply being brought into China without adjusting for local tastes.

The designers at that footwear company did not factor in that Chinese women like to emphasize they have small feet or that men rarely polish their shoes with wax. As a 33-year-old woman in Chengdu told my firm, “The shoes look great on western women with long legs and big feet, but I need something not as clunky.”

Even worse, the head of marketing refused to let his colleagues based in China alter advertising developed for the home market in any way, even forbidding the use of Chinese language in all ad copy. Posters and brochures in China were identical to campaigns run in Africa, Europe and America. Consumers told us later in interviews they were confused by ads with English taglines and product descriptions. Most had “no idea” what the writing meant which “often drove them to buy other brands.”

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