Localization Key to Success of U.S. Brands Abroad: Conversis Consults with U.S. Companies to Adapt Messages to Local Markets
OXFORD, England -- Culturally sensitive and appropriate marketing messages can help reverse the sales decline that American brands are experiencing in Europe, despite the continent's growing anti-Americanism.
Gary Muddyman, CEO of Conversis, a UK-based translation and localisation company, says that companies that adapt their marketing campaigns to the particular cultural, economic, social and political nuances found in each country, or even regions of a country, can reverse the sales decline.
According to a recent article in the Financial Times, major U.S. brands such as Coco Cola, McDonald's and Marlboro have experienced sales slumps as high as 24 percent compared to last year.
"Regardless of the reasons for the dwindling sales," Muddyman said, "companies can counter the drop with global and international campaigns that take into account local sensitivities. If they don't the campaigns will, at best, be less effective than intended or, at worst, fail completely."
For this reason, Conversis, which specializes in delivering quality, time-sensitive localization and translation services worldwide, has established a business consultancy service that allows a team of business and localization experts to work with American -- as well as multi-national -- companies to understand the political, economic, social and technical (PEST) drivers that lead to the successful rollout of a their products, services or business units abroad.
"Conversis has extensive experience in managing complicated multi-language translation and localization projects," said Muddyman. "Our company has built a team of experienced translators, each working in their mother tongue and specializing in individual areas of expertise such as banking and finance, pharmaceutical and healthcare, and information technology, to name a few."
And timing right now is critical. In fact, a recent study by NOP research says that U.S. brands are declining in familiarity, attractiveness, trust and use. The study notes, for example that only 15 percent of consumers in Europe believe U.S. brands are to be "trusted." While these shifts in attitude are occurring gradually, says Muddyman, they cannot be ignored.
For instance, auto makers Ford and GM have reported losses due to reduced market share in Europe, and GM has announced significant lay-offs in Germany. Likewise, Gap, the clothing retailer, has pulled out of the German market and reports diminished international sales over all. "Even Starbucks, the coffee behemoth, has noted brand resistance across Europe," added Muddyman. "And the Disney theme park near Paris had to be rescued by its U.S. parent, while Walmart, arguably the world's most successful retailer, is struggling in Germany. This is all in spite of the fact that the GDP of Europe has just edged above that of the U.S. and that 160 million more consumers exist in Europe than America," he said.
"Although these major U.S. brands are hurting, that doesn't mean American companies cannot compete in Europe or internationally. Localization that addresses the PEST conditions and trends is the key to establishing favorable brand awareness in foreign markets," said Muddyman.