Epic Wins and Fails in Market Research Translation

So, you want to sell your product in more countries? Have you decided on what locations you want to expand into? Before trying to push your product into overseas markets, you need to do market research translation. If you don’t, you risk losing millions and damaging your reputation in both local and overseas markets. So, what is market research translation? It’s the process of finding out if a product or service can be successful in a new market.

Research is carried out on the habits of potential customers along with how those customers interact with existing services and products in your desired market. The research determines your target population’s likes and how best to translate and pitch your product to that local audience. Before we dive deeper, it’s essential to understand the difference between localization and translation. In translation, you convert one language to another, word for word. Localization, however, is more robust and considers the local culture, history, audience, and language. People often get these terms confused, but market research translation actually means market research localization.

5 Epic Market Research Translation Fails

If you don’t perform market research, you risk losing out on millions of potential new customers. You also risk ruining your brand’s reputation. Here are some examples of major translation fails:

  1. In India, Pepsi, knowing the countries love of cricket, created a commercial where a young boy served the team with Pepsi during a cricket game. The company was inundated with negative press for glorifying child labor. Pepsi was later sued by Hyderabad, a city where the commercial aired. A skilled translation company would use local translators that would know the history of child labor in India and choose a different narrative for the commercial.
  2. Dunkin Donuts has tried to enter China on three occasions. The first two times, they did not do enough market research and put products on the market that were too sweet for Chinese consumers. On the third attempt, Dunkin succeeded in entering China because they did the research, modified their products, and used localized marketing material to attract customers.
  3. Ford’s slogan, “Every car has a high-quality body,” was translated into Belgium as “Every car has a high-quality corpse.” Obviously, a car company doesn’t want their vehicles associated with dead bodies.
  • 4.    Electrolux, the Swedish vacuum maker, tried to break into the US market with the slogan, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” Obviously, they didn’t use a marketing translation team that accounts for American slang.
  • Home Depot thrives on DIY customers. In 2006, when the Chinese housing market began to boom, Home Depot decided it was their chance. In China, however, DIY is considered a sign of poverty, and after opening 12 stores, Home Depot realized their stores did not meet the needs of a Chinese market. By 2012, Home Depot closed up shop in China and lost 160 million dollars in the process. Maybe they should have expanded into Europe instead.

Market research translation isn’t just about the words a company uses in its marketing campaigns. It’s also about whether a foreign market can adopt the product. Market research translation tackles both the linguistic and cultural challenges associated with venturing into a new market.

Market Research Translation Wins

When Market Research Translation is done right, both the product and the marketing strategy are adapted to foreign consumers. And, the companies that do it right end up expanding at rapid rates.

Ikea is a localization success story. Before entering a new market, Ikea will do at-home interviews with potential customers. When expanding into India, Ikea realized that children often sleep in their parent’s beds. So, Ikea developed a pull-out bed that can lengthen as the child grows. Ikea also replaced the beef meatballs with chicken and, understanding that people mostly eat with spoons or their hands, reduced the sale of fork and knives and focused on multicolored spoons. Ikea learned from expanding into China that they can sell products at a lower cost and have reduced margins because of the number of goods sold. As I said, Ikea does localization well but what sets them apart is that product alterations are accompanied by a marketing strategy grounded in the culture and linguistics of the country.

Coca-Cola is a global brand due to its strong localization strategies. When Coke first launched its “Share a Coke” campaign in Australia, it wanted to emphasize friendship and connection. That campaign has now been launched in over 50 countries. Instead of the brand logo, the most popular names from that region were posted on the drinks. You will find “Share a Coke with Kate” in America while you can “Share a Coke with Sergey” in Russia. China was its own special challenge as it is disrespectful in China to call someone by their first name. Instead, people use each other’s last names and honorific titles. This conflicted with the Coca-Cola value of trying to be personable. So, instead of putting Chinese names on the drinks, they opted to #shareacokewith “cool dude,” “friend,” and “fans” while simultaneously tapping into China’s love of social media.

Market Research Localization Services

Standard translation services that do not have experience with market research translation will be ill equipt to support a product’s integration into a new market. Specialized translation services will collect and analyze market information and translate your product material to that market.

MotaWord is the world’s fastest and most cost-effective translation service experienced in market research translation. They use state-of-the-art translation software and have years of sector experience in translating marketing material for B2B interaction or individual needs. MotaWord’s 24/7 chat support allows for close collaboration between product teams and the translator to ensure the translation embodies the company’s mission and values. MotaWord provides market research translation services in 95 languages, so nothing is stopping your business from expanding into multiple markets.