Why Localise

Why localise

As you are reading this page, you probably have already realised the need to translate your products or services. But, “why localise?” you might ask.

Let’s look at an example:

Love me, love my dog.

To translate this sentence literally into Simplified Chinese (used in Mainland China), it would be “爱我,爱我的狗”, which means “love me, love my dog”. However, this won’t resonate with your audience from Mainland China, and in some cases, it even produces negative impact given emotional associations with “dog” are often bad in Chinese culture.  The culturally appropriate translation, or localisation as we define is爱屋及乌, which means “The love for the house extends even to the crows perching on its roof”.


Look before you leap

[translation]: 在你跳之前先看看 [look before you leap]

[localisation]: 三思而后行 [think three times before you make a move]

The difference between translated copy and localised copy is noticeable. 

The necessity of localising your content, therefore, is significant.

A survey*, conducted by Common Sense Advisory, has shown that:

  • 52.4% of respondents buy only at websites where the information is presented in their language

  • 72.1% spend most or all of their time on sites in their own language

  • 75.8% favor in-language information in making their decision to buy services in tourism, entertainment, and financial sectors

  • 72.4% are more likely to purchase products and services with information in their own language

  • 74.7% are more likely to purchase the same brand again if the after-sales care is in their own language

So, who is localising?

Take a look at Apple (http://www.apple.com/choose-your-country/): the site is localised for customers in over 120 different countries. For areas with more than one language spoken, different language versions are presented. For example, Hong Kong is presented in both English and Traditional Chinese.

Apple also localises delivery and payment options. For instance, Apple displays English dates in a format like 15 February 2015 in the UK, or February 15, 2015 in the US, while Chinese dates are delivered as 2015/02/15 (YYYY/MM/DD). Similarly, Apple has included cash on delivery and Alipay in payment options on its Mandarin Chinese website, which are popular options in Mainland China.

Just before Chinese New Year in 2015, Apple, for the first time, has localised one of its most successful TV commercials especially for China, following its record $16.1 billion revenue from China during the December 2014 quarter. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has also announced in 2014 that Apple will open another 25 stores in China in the next two years.

Read on to find out more opinions and stories on localisation we select for you from around the globe.

And, start offering your customers a localised experience – geographically, linguistically, and culturally.

* Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites, by Donald A. DePalma, Benjamin B. Sargent, and Renato S. Beninatto, Common Sense Advisory, Inc., September 2006


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