Going to the source for marketing localizationI was chatting with another experienced international business professional at a networking event last week. The topic of marketing localization arose, we chatted briefly about the folly of using standard American marketing in international markets, and suddenly he started chuckling.
My interest piqued I asked what had him amused and he recounted a story of a recent flight from Sao Paulo to the US. His seat mate was the manager of the US operation for a prominent Brazilian beverage company. As they chatted it came to light that this executive who is charged with building the market in the US for this Brazilian product (primarily selling to Brazilians in the US) had been in Sao Paulo working on some marketing campaigns.
This company had found that to really market their product to Brazilian Americans, they had the best results creating the marketing campaign in Brazil. That's taking localization to a top level.
But CPG is differentOK, you're partially right of course. Marketing consumer products requires a particular sensitivity to culture and "tastes." Maybe selling industrial products requires a less refined approach to international marketing. And maybe selling beer is one of the trickiest products to sell.
But remember that cultural cues, expectations and assumptions are strong. Just because you don't have to appeal to a housewife or fickle teen doesn't mean that you can just translate your American approach.
It's a different market and needs to be respected and treated as different - you need to localize your messaging, design, formats and channels.
International marketing doesn't need to be complicated, but it does require attention to detail and a consistent process.