Let’s translate everything from our home market into the local language. Then, the product is ready for international sales and the profits will roll in!
Has this strategy ever worked? Marketing books are filled with examples where it failed.
Books, articles and infographics abound on the topic of business etiquette but what about the impact of social and cultural etiquette when marketing new or advanced high tech products or services into a foreign market?
There are no neatly packaged infographics that will deliver the detailed information needed for a successful high tech product launch into a new foreign market. It requires significant local market research to understand how the end customer would consider, purchase and use your product.
One highly recognized brand, eBay, entered the Chinese market in 2004 but did not consider the importance of the social etiquette of “quanxi” (direct communication between buyer and seller).
An article by Benjamin Carlson at PRI details how eBay could not gain significant market share, closed the portal and a China based firm, Taobao, garnered more than 95% of the local market share. Undaunted, eBay reportedly recently signed a partnership with Ningbo, one of five largest and busiest ports in China with free trade zone and manufacturing, to develop e-commerce.
Another globally recognized brand, Facebook, ensures that product managers and engineers understand the limitations of internet infrastructures and unique ways mobile phones are used in emerging markets through their empathy lab. Nikila Srinivasan, a Facebook Product Manager focused on emerging markets, gave an enlightening presentation at a 2016 Mind the Product event. I highly recommend watching the video and reading Chris Massey’s article.
One of Srinivasan’s team’s first considerations was to determine the typical mobile experience. Their findings confirmed that it was not a high end smart phone with high speed connections and unlimited access plans but rather a feature phone or low end smart phone with slow or intermittent connection, multiple SIM cards for multi-user families or multi-applications and limited, pay as you go plans. Their approach to new products in emerging markets goes beyond the standard new product development steps. It includes obtaining different perspectives on product use, platforms, access and technology from local researchers and local resources.
Introducing new high tech products into foreign or emerging markets requires more than language translation, it requires leaving behind your assumptions, learning the needs and social/cultural influences from local market resources and finding the best product value offering to the end user, who, by the way, reflect the world’s diversity and one size will not fit all.