7 Best Localization Strategy Examples and Why They Work So Well

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Written by

Chidinma Egwuogu

In today's fiercely competitive global market, businesses must think beyond borders and embrace the power of localization.

Developing a successful localization strategy can be the key to achieving international success.

This article delves into the concept of localization, offering you inspiring localization strategy examples from some of the greatest brands in the world, and actionable advice for creating your own localization strategy.

-What is localization strategy?

-McDonald's

-Durex

-Netflix

-Fortnite

-Coca-Cola

-Spotify

-IKEA

-Transform your localization strategy

Pro tip: It’s one thing to create a localization strategy, it’s another to implement it. To make your localization strategy work, use a professional localization platform – Centus. Learn more.

What is Localization Strategy?

Localization strategy (l10n) is a plan for modifying a product, service, or content to suit the language, customs, and preferences of a particular market or region. The localization efforts outlined in the strategy involve a combination of translation and cultural adaptation.

Common types of localization include:

  1. Website localization: Adjusting website content, user experience, and design for a specific audience.

  2. Software localization: Modifying software applications to meet local language, cultural, and technical requirements.

  3. Content localization: Tailoring content, such as text, images, and videos, to suit the preferences of a local audience

  4. Marketing localization: Adapting marketing campaigns, promotional materials, product descriptions, and communication strategies to fit local markets and maximize impact.

7 Superior Localization Strategy Examples to Learn From

Let's take a look at seven global brands that have skillfully navigated international expansion by implementing powerful localization strategies.

1. McDonald’s

A screenshot of McDonald’s Japan website

Source: McDonald’s

With over 40 thousand McDonald’s restaurants globally, McDonald's has shown its international prowess through a strategic localization approach that caters to regional tastes and preferences.

One notable aspect of McDonald's localization strategy is menu adaptation. As it went international, McDonald shed its hamburger identity and focused on introducing region-specific dishes such as the McAloo Tikki burger in India, the Teriyaki Burger in Japan, Poutine in Canada, and rice dishes for its Asian customers.

Additionally, McDonald's tailors its website content and marketing campaigns to resonate with regional audiences. For instance, it adopts a more vibrant ambience for its Japanese website than its Western counterpart. It also offers specialty food items inspired by manga comics popular in Japan.

These localization efforts have been critical to McDonald's global success, allowing the company to maintain its position as one of the world's largest fast-food chains.

Key takeaways from McDonald’s localization strategy:

  • Research and listen to your target market

  • Don’t make it complicated

  • Go native, source local

  • Use localized content marketing to reach your audience

  • Don’t box yourself in when branding

2. Durex

Screenshot of Durex India’s website

Source: Durex

Durex’s localization strategy in 52 countries involves tailoring its products and campaigns to specific regions since public attitudes toward sex vary by country.

For instance in India, Durex rolled out its slimmest condom pack with discreet packaging and the promise that it disappears in your pocket. The brand also offers discreet home delivery for its Indian customers.

Durex has positioned itself as a sexual wellness brand instead of just a condom company. Unlike many of its competitors in conservative markets, it embraced equality in sex, which resonated with a previously ignored female market.

The pioneer brand also distributes its products through a mix of local retailers, mom-and-pop stores, wholesalers, and e-commerce sites.

Last but not least, Durex has a wacky yet culturally-sensitive sense of humor exemplified by its #ScoreWithDurex campaign during the 2022 World Cup.

Key takeaways from Durex’s localization strategy:

  • Differentiate your product

  • Rebrand when necessary

  • Don’t be afraid to test new marketing strategies

  • Use the voice of your target market

3. Netflix

Screenshot of the Netflix Website

Source: Netflix

Netflix, a popular localization example, has expanded its empire to 190 countries, delighting over 232 million people with content in more than 30 languages.

But how did this former DVD rental service conquer the world? By focusing on localization with a sprinkle of humor and a dash of data-driven decision-making.

For starters, Netflix didn't try to localize multiple regions simultaneously. Netflix first expanded to Canada, a country geographically close and similar to the US, allowing them to tackle internationalization with fewer "foreignness" challenges.

After succeeding in Canada, Netflix stuck to this model of expanding in groups of similar regions.

But Netflix didn't stop there. The company customized its content to reflect local preferences, making sure each country had its own menu of shows and movies. Netflix also invested in original regional content, with hit shows like France's "Lupin," Spain's "La Casa de Papel," and South Korea's "Squid Game."

This local-to-global strategy (or reverse localization) has proven to be the secret sauce for attracting and retaining users worldwide. In fact, Netflix plans to invest $2.5 billion dollars to produce original K-drama content.

The final ingredient in Netflix’s localization success recipe is customer experience. Netflix offers multilingual support and country-specific social media accounts, keeping their global audience satisfied.

Key takeaways from Netflix’s localization strategy:

  • Focus on strategic regional expansion.

  • Use customer data to inform localization decisions.

  • Customize content for your target language.

  • Prioritize customer experience and support.

  • Create original content with global appeal.

4. Fortnite

Screenshot of the Fortnite website

Source: Epic Games

Fortnite, the wildly popular battle royale game boasting a whopping 350 million users in 2020 and support in 12 different languages, certainly knows a thing or two about localization.

First and foremost, they localize a wide range of content: game strings, websites, blogs, videos, marketing content, and even apparel. This ensures players in new markets can fully engage with the Fortnite universe.

To keep up with the fast-paced nature of the gaming industry, Epic Games, Fortnite's developer, built an internal localization QA team with at least one native speaker from each local language.

However, the company is not afraid to get outside help too. Fortnite’s localization team outsources 100% of translation and works closely with its developer and designer teams to adopt internationalization best practices.

Epic Games also partners with local Youtube and Twitch influencers to market Fortnite.

Key takeaways from Fortnite's localization strategy:

  • Localize all content.

  • Collaborate with relevant influencers

  • Ensure consistency across languages.

  • Build an internal localization QA team.

  • Outsource translation work and collaborate with other departments.

5. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola's share-a-coke campaign

Coca-Cola's localization strategy focused on creating culturally relevant advertising, packaging, website, content, and product variations that appealed to local tastes and preferences.

The company's website is available in more than 40 languages, catering to a diverse range of speakers, including those of less widely spoken languages such as Latvian, Lithuanian, Albanian, and Greek.

Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign is another example of its localization efforts, with personalized bottle labels adapted to local markets like Ireland, China, and India, respecting cultural norms and preferences.

This attention to detail in understanding and adapting to diverse markets has helped Coca-Cola maintain its position as a leading global brand.

Key takeaways from Coca-Cola’s localization strategy:

  • Adapt your website and product to suit local languages and preferences.

  • Consider cultural norms and sensitivities in your marketing localization process.

  • Continuously assess local cultural preferences and adjust your strategy.

6. Spotify

Screenshot of Spotify’s Website

In 2022, Spotify's user count rose to 205 million premium subscribers.

Spotify, with its 195-country availability and support for 65 languages, thrives on relevance, internalization, and personalization of content and experience.

Its localization team collaborates with product designers, engineers, and UX researchers during the development phase, to ensure a globally relevant design that’s easy to localize.

Spotify pays close attention to language expansion during translation, ensuring its designs accommodate translations of various lengths. The company considers the tone of voice preferences in different markets, such as a more educational tone in Japan and a playful tone in India.

Spotify’s localization team also pays attention to customer feedback on the cultural interpretation of visual elements. For example, the company has adjusted designs for the Diwali hub to make it more colorful for its Indian audience and tweaked its Happy Hits Playlist for each region.

Image showing localization of Spotify’s Happy Hits playlists

Source: Spotify

Key takeaways from Spotify's localization strategy:

  • Localized strategy involves functional, cultural, and linguistic adaptation.

  • Collaboration across multiple teams helps create a globally relevant user experience.

  • Consider language expansion and tone preferences in different markets.

  • Create local content in your target language.

  • Understand cultural interpretations of visual elements.

7. IKEA

Screenshot of IKEA website

Source: IKEA

IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, has been successful in expanding worldwide with 464 stores, by tailoring its product offerings and marketing strategies to meet local preferences.

A key part of IKEA’s success is its ability to move from standardization to localization, adapting its stores, products, and communication to different regions.

In China, for example, IKEA adjusted its business model by partnering with local firms that provide furniture assembly services, since self-assembly is not considered a status symbol in the Chinese market.

IKEA also opened stores in central areas near public transport routes and mini stores within shopping centers. Moreover, the company adapted its food offerings to include local favorites like dim sum. As a result, IKEA now generates over $2 billion a year in China, accounting for 4.8% of its worldwide sales.

In Japan, IKEA focused on functional furniture, like the RÅSHULT, fitted for Japan’s small living spaces.

Key takeaways from IKEA's localization strategy:

  • Conduct extensive market research.

  • Know when to standardize and localize.

  • Tailor products, store layouts, and services for each market.

  • Adopt marketing strategies that fit the local culture.

Transform Your Localization Strategy with Centus

Implementing a localization strategy is a challenging and intricate process, particularly when aiming for success on a global scale. Managing multiple languages, cultures, and markets can turn the process into a complex endeavor.

To avoid costly blunders, use a professional localization platform – Centus.

Centus provides a comprehensive range of features that simplify localization, ensuring the highest quality results for your expansion. Our intuitive platform offers translation glossaries, seamless integrations, and detailed project tracking — all in one screen. Learn more.

FAQ

What are the localization strategies?

Localization strategies are methods used by businesses to adapt products, services, or content for different markets. The key aspects of an effective localization strategy include:

  • Linguistic localization: Translating language in marketing materials and user interfaces.

  • Cultural adaptation: Adjusting your product for cultural differences, such as social norms and customs.

  • Design localization: Adapting visual elements like colors, images, and layout.

  • Legal and regulatory compliance: Meeting local laws, regulations, and standards.

  • Technical localization: Adapting software or hardware for region-specific requirements.

What is an example of localization in international business?

Intercom, a customer messaging platform, is an example of localization in international business. With over 25,000 businesses using Intercom across 130 countries, the platform hosts millions of conversations in numerous languages.

To ensure a seamless user experience, Intercom has focused on localizing its product and website to support more languages.

Intercom now supports French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese for various functions like Inbox, Reports, Articles, Contacts, Billings, and Settings. The Messenger and Resolution Bot support 32 languages, and its Help Center can be localized in just a few clicks.

Intercom employs a continuous and comprehensive localization strategy, consistently improving its language offerings to cater to its diverse customer base and build personalized relationships with its global clientele.

What are the three types of localization?

The three types of localization are:

Product localization: Adjusting a product's features, design, packaging, and functionality to meet the target market's needs and preferences.

Marketing localization: Adapting marketing materials, such as slogans and promotional campaigns, to resonate with the target audience.

Software localization: Adapting a software application or website to support different languages, character sets, and regional settings for a seamless user experience.

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