Marketing To Other Languages Can Yield Benefits

Most people know that expanding your target market can yield many benefits. However, many companies and marketers are loathe to embark on bilingual marketing, thinking that it will be a lot of work and would be more difficult.  However learning a bit of the new language can easily cut that difficulty.

High on our recommendation list is the Rocket Languages series, which can be an excellent way of embarking on the basics of a new language.  But to perhaps get you in the right mindset and eager to start on this project here are some quotes from a great article I recently found:

“On a larger scale, Sears, Roebuck & Co. is taking note of the preferences of different geographic groups. If a Sears’ store has a shopping base that is at least 20 percent Hispanic, it is designated as a Hispanic store for the purpose of Sears’ Hispanic marketing program. More than 130 stores in Southern California, Texas, Florida and New York have earned this label. “We make a special effort to staff those stores with bilingual sales personnel, to use bilingual signage, and to support community programs,” says Jan Drummond, a spokesperson for Sears. Sales are tracked by computer and stock is replenished based on historical sales to refine the merchandise assortment.

“Merchandise for the Hispanic marketplace is primarily a color and size issue,” says Drummond. “What we find in Hispanic communities is that people tend to be smaller than the general market, and that there is a greater demand for special occasion clothing and a preference for bright colors. In hardlines, there isn’t much difference from the mainstream market.”

Sears’ success with Hispanic and African-American target marketing has prompted the retailer to begin analyzing Asian-American consumers to determine purchasing patterns. Though the research is still in its early stages, Sears hopes the information will help it provide the right products, displays, personnel and credit options so that it can develop an effective marketing strategy.

To communicate any marketing strategy effectively, companies must be cognizant of stereotypes and characteristics. For instance, not all Hispanics have dark skin and hair. In fact, a significant portion of the population has blonde hair and blue eyes. Santos says that characteristics with a strong ethnic image may work in promotions that are regionally focused, but for a national campaign marketers should use a universal look of light skin, brown hair and brown eyes. This will translate into every Hispanic culture and also appeal to Europeans and Americans.

When we shoot a commercial, our talent reflects the Hispanic presence in the market,” Asip says. To find appropriate talent and position themselves positively in the market, J.C. Penney, cosponsors the annual Hispanic Designers Model Search, targeted to high school and college students of Hispanic descent with non-professional modeling status.

Targeting the Asian market requires even more precision because there is the misconception, says Macabenta, “that all Orientals look alike. [Asians] are as foreign [in appearance] to each other as [they] are foreign to Americans.” Using a Chinese model in an ad targeted to Filipinos will probably offend more consumers than it will attract.

Indeed, marketers have gotten smarter. “They have realized they can’t just translate what they’re doing in the mass market into the appropriate language and expect it to work,” says Mary Gilly, professor of marketing at the University of California Irvine Graduate School of Management. “Differences in cultural values need to be addressed. For example, an American cultural value is independence. Young people displaying independence from their parents would be acceptable to the mass market, but not to Asian or Hispanic markets, where strong family ties is the appropriate value.”

As indicated by the ill-fated “fly in leather” campaign, a translator needs to understand the culture as well as the vocabulary when translating a marketing message from one language to another. “Don’t just translate the words literally,” advises Santos. “Look at the message, and then put that message into words the particular market group will understand.””