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Localisation vs. Internationalisation

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

In order to kickstart a business, you must first define your target market. To each their own, all businesses have their own specified target market—the clientele of their choice, the audience that they're catering to, in which the product or service that is offered, is meant to appeal to.


Localisation vs Internationalisation. Graphic visual of male/female stick figures that appear to be part of a webbed network, with the image of an open hand in the background that appears to be holding up this network of people.

In identifying your target market, there are a multitude of variables that can be considered—after all, the more specific you get, the better! In general, to determine who your customers are, the variables would fall underneath the four main pillars, namely: demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioural. In short, you'll need to know who your clients are, where they're from, their interests or lifestyles, and how likely they are to accept the product or service offering based on their regular behavioural tendencies.


As mentioned, one of the key components is the red pin on the map (i.e. the location of the target market), that will be key in developing the marketing strategy for your brand. Is your target market sprawled across the globe, from one end to the other, or is in located in a specific region or even country?


There's no one correct answer to it, as it is entirely dependent on every brand's own select clientele. One way or another, you'll find yourself either localising or internationalising your marketing strategy, based on what'll be of most interest to your targeted audience.


The question then is, which is the best option for your business? First things first, let's get down to defining both terms—localisation and internationalisation—and outlining the key differences between them.


Shelves of Japanese onigiri "rice balls" displayed in a store.

What is localisation?

Localisation refers to adapting content to best suit the local target market, usually a strategy that follows suit after internationalisation. In localisation, businesses narrow down their marketing strategies to appeal to the domestic markets within a country for better response and results from their efforts.


For instance, over the last few years, we've seen the establishment of many Japanese and Korean convenience stores globally as they've grown very popular. In order to adapt to the markets that they've entered into, these businesses would generally include translations following the local language to either their in-store directories, signages, or product or service descriptions so that consumers are able to understand what they're adding into their cart. Rather than leaving the consumer confused as to what is lined up on the shelves in front of them, these translations that help them get to know the products that are offered would improve their customer experience, and in turn, lead to more business overall. After all, wouldn't you be more enticed to purchase a product or service if you knew exactly what it was and if it'd suit your liking?


Person holding a tablet in the background. In the foreground are "Hello" in many different languages spread all over the visual.

What is internationalisation?

On the other end of the spectrum, internationalisation is a key step for global expansion and it refers to businesses designing content in such a way that they are able to enter international markets with ease, appealing to consumers everywhere in a standardised manner. In a broader sense, internationalism essentially views marketing through the world's lenses, and figures out how a business can effectively create, market and sell its product to all consumers, everywhere.


Over the years, many brands and businesses have gone international, learning how to build their content and copy to be easily consumed by the global audience. One of the easiest forms of internationalisation when it comes to copy is the use of English or Mandarin, as those two take the top of the cake as the most spoken languages in the world.


So, which approach should I take?

Ultimately, you'll need to ask yourself these two questions:

● Who are you planning to market and sell your product or service to?

● What is your intent behind your marketing strategy and copy? Is it to appeal to a larger and global, or more specific local audience?


If you are planning to build your empire globally and want to market to a variety of consumers all across the globe, internationalisation is the way to go. On the other hand, if you'd like to narrow down your approach and target a specific domestic market within your selected country, localisation would serve you best.


Speak the language of your consumer and appeal directly to their hearts with compelling copy that resonates with them, and you'll be working in the right direction. Never forget the importance of language and culture to your audience, as it does, in fact, make a world of difference.


If you'd like to explore how your copy can be adapted to the local language or internationalised to appeal to the world's consumers, reach out to us today! We'd love to help you out.

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