Localization : A Recipe for Success


The last couple of weeks, I have been doing a little poll by asking my American customers and friends if they know Lotus. Many think I am referring to the flower, others who like some extravaganza think about the sports car, but almost nobody makes the connection with a cookie. Well, that all changes when you say the magic word “Biscoff”. The buttery, melt- in your mouth cookie is so popular in the United States, that Delta even dedicated an emoji to the iconic brand. Biscoff cookies hail from Belgium and its original name is Speculoos, a treat given to kids on Saint Nicholas Day in December. When Lotus expanded to the US, they decided to rebrand Speculoos to Biscoff, a biscuit for coffee. The Lotus success story is an excellent example of what localization can do for your brand. When you are expanding to a new country, it is particularly important to ensure that your product and marketing message resonates. 3 main things to consider: Understand the New Market The first step is to have a crystal-clear understanding of your market and audience. Analyze areas as diverse as language, culture, religion, beliefs, values, visuals, gestures, local taste and even meaning of colors. Jettison assumptions and forget for a moment what works in your home market. You can get the needed information by doing fieldwork and involving local people or companies. Localize or Not – That’s the Question Based on your knowledge of the new market, you have to decide if you want to simply translate, localize, or keep your message in the native language. Localization is not always necessary; some brands adapt a global strategy instead. Start by defining the message you want to bring and ask yourself if localization makes sense. Do not just copy paste. It is not because a marketing campaign worked in your domestic market that it will have the same success in a foreign market. Find a Balance Localizing your campaign can be a time consuming and expensive process. Find the right balance between how, when, and how much you want to localize and think about how you can scale your business in the most efficient way. It all sounds so obvious, but even billion-dollar companies make painful and costly mistakes. Check out my blogpost Lost in Localization on Epic International Marketing Blunders. And the Lotus cookie? The Company recently announced that it was going to stop using the term ‘Speculoos’ on its biscuits, even within Belgium and go with ‘Biscoff’ instead. Me? I will always keep calling them Speculoos cookies. They bring on pure nostalgia and I will make sure we have some ready for our kids on December 6th, happy Saint Nicholas Day! I am curious…which name do you prefer? Biscoff or Speculoos? Let me know, and I will share the results in my next newsletter.

Greeting from Silicon Valley! Sophie

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