How to Localize Your Holiday Marketing


How to Localize Your Holiday Marketing

The holiday season is a significant source of revenue in various industries. From food and fashion to gift-giving and specific traditions, consumers spend a lot of money to make the holidays special. If you hope to put your company on the receiving end of this spending spree, the proper marketing techniques are essential. However, if you develop a grand marketing campaign that falls flat, you could experience significant financial losses. Localization will be a critical part of your holiday marketing strategy if you sell products globally. 

What is Localization?

Localization (l10n) is adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market. While translation is included in the process, it’s only a single feature of localization. The complete process may consist of changes to graphics, text layouts, and communication styles. For example, image localization considers the importance of culturally appropriate images, colors, gestures, and the level of appropriateness of an image in different locales.

Many companies take advantage of the ability to sell products globally through eCommerce channels. Even when you don’t have physical stores in various locations, localization for eCommerce can improve your relationships with international customers. This can include many of the same aspects as localization for physical stores and traditional advertising but is also likely to involve localizing user experience to increase engagement and improve convenience.

Why is Localization Important for Holiday Marketing?

The excitement can be overwhelming when the holidays are just around the corner. For many American shoppers, Thanksgiving can include festive decorations, large meals, and even new home decor for the perfect touch to the average family’s most celebrated meal of the year. Yet, if you launched your Thanksgiving marketing efforts weeks after Thanksgiving, your customers probably wouldn’t be interested. Canadian Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving in Germany (Erntedankfest) are celebrated in early October and observe different events than American Thanksgiving. Liberia is the only other country to celebrate an American Thanksgiving, and it is celebrated on the first Thursday of November. In addition to Canada, Germany and Liberia, there are other countries that have Thanksgiving-style celebrations.

For many US shoppers, Thanksgiving is also the launch for holiday shopping. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday were originally an American tradition, the global expansion of chains like Walmart has prompted many countries to adopt Black Friday sales. Sales aren’t limited to local in-store purchases either. In 2019, more than half of Black Friday purchases in European countries were made online, which creates exciting opportunities for eCommerce retailers.

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales might span multiple countries, shopping habits and holidays have distinct cultural differences worldwide. For example, Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, but for many, a bucket of KFC is a traditional Japanese Christmas meal. KFC’s Christmas promotion was an innovative idea brought about by Takeshi Okawara, who managed the first KFC in Japan. Today, people wait in lines for hours on Christmas to purchase KFC meals, some of which include options like ribs or roast chicken with stuffing and Christmas wine.

Holiday Cultural Differences Around the World

Effective holiday marketing campaigns target shoppers with nostalgic ideas that spark memories. Images and advertisements that reflect unfamiliar traditions fail to have the same impact. Consider how different holidays are celebrated and how marketing can be changed to reflect different cultures.

  • The German equivalent of Thanksgiving, Erntedankfest (harvest festival of thanks), is a religious holiday that takes place on the first Sunday in October. 
  • Japan’s variation of Thanksgiving, Kinro Kansha no Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day), includes events led by labor organizations that encourage citizens to celebrate the principles of hard work and community involvement. 
  • On November 11, in China, Singles Day is an unofficial anti-Valentine’s Day holiday celebrating people who are not in romantic relationships. The holiday is the world’s biggest shopping event and is known for regularly smashing sales records. 
  • In Japan, Christmas is not a religious holiday. Christmas Eve is considered a romantic holiday similar to Valentine’s Day in western nations.
  • Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations of the year among East and Southeast Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean communities. The celebration usually spans days and features different celebrations across cultures.

Developing Your Localized Holiday Marketing Strategy

By optimizing the traditions celebrated worldwide, retailers can create holiday marketing campaigns that resonate with shoppers. However, creating a localized holiday marketing strategy takes significant time and research.  Localization is easier when you plan and take specific steps to prepare your strategy. Working with an organization that understands local traditions, cultures, nuances, and language is often a vital step to a successful localized marketing strategy. 

Set Realistic Goals

While this sounds obvious for any marketing campaign, a strategy that includes localization requires more research. Holiday marketing is a great time to introduce your brand to new customers, but accurate context or displays can save the results. Begin by defining your goals for your marketing campaign, and then create a measurable plan to deliver results. 

Consider Where You Can Add Value

Consider how a localization strategy affects your business in the long term. If you concentrate on global eCommerce sales, it is only possible to effectively create globalized holiday marketing strategies for several countries if you start in mid-November. Conversely, Singles Day might be an excellent place to start if you’re seeking a way to enter the Chinese market.

Plan to Start Early

Holiday shopping begins earlier each year. Consumers are typically concerned about the availability of popular products, and retailers respond to demand. If you are entering a new market, your efforts could easily get overlooked in the landslide of holiday marketing. You should plan to start marketing with seasonal ads at least six weeks before a major holiday. When you get ahead of the holiday rush, you can schedule ongoing changes to your promotions to keep consumers engaged.

Create a Festive Shopping Experience

Creating an experience that resonates with your customers is essential whether your sales are online or in-store. During the holidays, consumers want to connect with the emotional benefits of the season. Consider the images and figures that resonate with your audience and remind them of time-honored traditions. Make sure your theme reflects the lifestyle of your customers and the customs celebrated in each locale.

The holidays are a great time to enter new markets. Learning about different cultures and traditions can help you better understand your customers and deliver their desired shopping experience. Choosing a popular holiday in another region can be a launching point for your long-term localization strategy. While every strategy is unlikely to match the success of KFC’s Kentucky Christmas in Japan, localized holiday marketing campaigns can allow you to get to know the customs of your customers.

Localization is a complex strategy that requires considerable research and a firm understanding of cultural nuances.