Insights April 29, 2021

Breaking down barriers and building brands in emerging markets

Living Word
By Living Word

The dynamics of the world economy are changing as emerging markets are boosting the global GDP and taking an increasingly bigger share of the global purchasing power.

In other words: it might be worth building your brand in (some of) these emerging markets. We look at some of the key things to consider in the process.

Tackling emerging markets

According to the World Bank, the world’s biggest emerging markets include China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey, but many more are following suit as they modernise and become more developed, with higher standards of living and growing internet penetration. While purchasing power figures predicted to soar present global brands with a huge potential for growth, the language barriers are still there – and there are quite a few things to consider.

Conducting market research in the local language(s)

Knowledge is key. Conducting market research in the local language(s) before entering a new market will help establish if there is market potential. Are the consumers receptive to this product, service, or brand? What is their level of knowledge around it? What local preferences, perceptions and tastes need to be considered?

Understanding cultural sensitivities and customs

Once it has been established that there is a case for establishing brand presence in a new market, the next step is to tailor everything to the local market. Value propositions and marketing activities should be guided by these cultural values.

While translating everything related to your products or services into the local language(s) goes a long way, understanding the local cultures, ethnicities, religions, customs, and any sensitivities is just as important for you to succeed. In addition to establishing trusted partnerships with native speaking representatives and distribution partners, finding and working with linguists who know the ins and outs of one or more of the local languages and all aspects related to them is crucial.

Breaking down language barriers

Marketing, user manuals, packaging, disclaimers, safety warnings – the list goes on. These elements should be in the local language to build a solid foundation in an emerging market. But what to do when there are several official languages?

Take India as an example, one of the largest emerging market economies. The nation has 121 major languages (excluding many hundreds of other languages and dialects), of which 22 are considered official languages, while less than half of the population speak Hindi. The same is the case for other emerging markets – many of them have multiple languages and dialects.

The solution? A multi-language strategy that takes these local differences into account – alternatively, starting small with one or two local languages or geographical areas and slowly expanding to other promising clusters of languages or geographical areas, rather than trying to target the entire nation with one language, which is only understood by a minority of the population. Either way, a professional, trusted language service provider is a must.