More companies are exploring foreign markets today, as countries open their doors to international trade. However, companies from English-speaking countries initially thought that English, being the language of business, is enough for them to penetrate new markets.
Market analysis later revealed that consumers in foreign markets prefer to buy products and services that are available in their own language. Thus, translation companies were called to help translate websites, product information, and marketing and advertising materials. But that wasn’t enough, as local consumers wanted something more.
Localization is the answer, where websites, products and information conformed to local culture and preferences. Thus, companies have their materials and information localized. Aside from translating written materials, they also changed colors, layouts, images, fonts, currency, date and time formats and other elements to conform to a region’s culture.
Then what is glocalization?
Glocalization, according to Roland Robertson, a sociologist, is a term coined by economists in Japan to explain their strategies for global marketing. It came from the words globalization and localization. It was mentioned in the 1980s Harvard Business Review articles from economists in Japan. The term was popularized by Robertson.
Glocalization has many descriptions. It is the simultaneous presence of particularization and universalization of a brand’s service or product. It is the adaptation of the product to a foreign market’s culture or locality. It is the moderating factor on the conditions in the local market that faces pressures from the global business environment. Glocalization is for the service or product developed for global distribution that is altered to fit the local consumer.
In glocalization, a product that is marketed globally is tailored to adjust to the preferences of consumers and adapt to local customs and laws. When a product is glocalized, more interest is given to it by the consumers. Even if the product is something that can be used by everyone, its localization turns it into something more applicable to the particular individual, and his/her needs and context.
How does glocalization work?
Glocalization works better for businesses, the management structures of which are decentralized and those that compete in various cultural settings. Glocalization is a big investment but it will pay great dividends. It will give companies wider access to a bigger target market in different cultures. The concept allows the different countries to be better equipped to compete effectively.
It extends to localizing ad campaigns and marketing thrusts to make them friendlier to local consumers, to encourage them to accept the products that come from a different country.
Glocalism affects international business in different ways:
- A local event can impact the global market in the same manner that a global event can have a big relevance to the economy of the local market. This means that there is an interconnection among things. For example, an exporting country where a natural disaster occurred may not be able to supply the resources needed for manufacturing in the importing country temporarily. When there is a political unrest in an oil and gas exporting country, the cost of these petroleum products may increase in the importing countries.
- The company sees to it that their product or service is adapted to each locale or culture where the product is marketed. The adaptation helps to position the company to have relevance in the local culture, with its inherent values, perceptions and nuances. Glocalization is done in all the target markets.
- Glocalism pushes the services and products to the local and global consumers simultaneously. This means reaching to consumers in all the markets the company serves and at the same time, the local clients want to know if the brand understands them and could meet the needs and wants of the local users.
Effects of glocalism on social media
Glocalism was trending as early as 2013 and it was predicted that social media would make it popular. It was determined that beneath glocalism, cultures, economies and local customers can exert bigger power in the world economy. It enables them to require services and products to be translated into the language they understand. At the same time, these products and services should be able to speak to local users in a manner that is relevant to them.
Effects of glocalism on localization and translation
Cultural relevance of the products or services has a higher importance than the translation of materials into the language spoken in the target market. Companies should be working with professional language services providers like Day Translations, Inc., which has a team of native speakers who reside in the target localities. With glocalization, the company cannot only claim that it speaks the language of the local market, but also share the practicalities of their language and make everything culturally relevant to each end user.
Differences between localization and glocalization
Localization and glocalization are interlinked, yet they have different definitions. In localization, the cultural and linguistic barriers are addressed. In glocalization, it is the product that is being technically enabled to get it ready for localization, which is the way to reach globalization status.
To put the process in more simple terms:
Translation transforms the messages from the source language into the target language. Localization deals with transforming the nonverbal items, including sound effects, music and pictures and the textual components like the fonts, color scheme and layout to make everything appeal to local users. Translation and localization lead to product repackaging to make it a global product.
Localization and globalization are ways to respond to the expanding market. Translation helps the technological, economic, commercial and cultural globalization. Translation is a means to create ”cultural identities” by changing a foreign culture to be subjectively domestic.
Translation facilitates communication with particular audiences. Globalization promotes the influence of prevailing cultures and languages via translation. Conversely, localization promotes the status of smaller cultures and languages by enabling them to vie against the major languages.
Given this context, it seems that there is conflict between globalization and localization. But this is not the case because the two processes are complementary. The two can be seen as promoting the poorly balanced position of the minor language vis-à-vis the major language, yet they both enrich and support the minor cultures and languages.
Effects on economies of the local markets
For larger economies, glocalization provides results that are mixed. Because glocalization makes the larger companies compete more effectively, the quality of competition should go higher and the prices should go down. Also, more goods would be available in the market. However, the opposite happens since larger companies have immediate access to budgets for glocalization. They can bring the prices down but they also take a bigger slice of the market, which can hurt the local and smaller businesses because the production costs of larger corporations are smaller. This can reduce the competition, which can drive prices higher eventually.
Meeting of local and global forces
Glocalization occurs simultaneously as tendencies that make things universal and particular, which affects the economic, political and social systems. It shows that the increasing importance of global and continental levels occurs together with the increasing prominence of regional and local levels.
In the context of marketing, glocalization signifies the creation of services or products for the international market by adapting the product to a local or regional culture. As an example, the mascot of McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald, seems to be renowned around the world. However, in France, the McDonald’s branches use Asterix, which is a more popular and accepted local cartoon character.
Glocalization encourages innovation and diversity and the development of hybrids especially in areas where immigrants and native residents need to adapt to each other, while the new arrivals have to maintain connection with families they left behind.
Globalization largely benefitted from translation, and it cannot be disputed that the service is very important for the society that is globalizing at a tremendous pace. In turn the translation industry receives a big boost from globalization. Today, corporations not only focus on marketing domestically. They are opening new doors to international markets where competition is fiercer. It becomes highly important for translation agencies to attract business from emerging markets like India, China and other parts of Asia so that they can compete against other countries.
More attention is being given to translation into other languages aside from English, as well as adapting products and services distinctly for one locality.
Glocalization is a new term that companies should know. People are enticed to migrate to other countries because of the availability of opportunities for human development, jobs that pay higher and services that generate higher value. Urban centers grow denser and they become primary locations for interpersonal systems for learning, collaboration, exchange of resources. They also turn into areas were industries congregate. The urban centers grow into mega cities. Due to this, services and products have to be customized to provide better service to the diverse market of different ethnicities that have different cultural thinking and product preferences.
Glocalization also benefits from transcreation, which go beyond simple translation or localization, creating new campaigns and messages. While the exact meaning of words can change, transcreation keep the spirit of the brand or story to a new audience on international marketing campaigns.
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