Harmonizing Localization and Global Standardization

Trying to understand the globe
New Markets
Among the things that piqued my interest when I first got into FingerTec was the fact that, despite its humble beginnings in the early 2000s, the company already has its collective foots firmly planted in the international market. Pretty cool for a vision that started with just a finger. This presented a new (at that time) challenge for me as I mistakably underestimated the complexities of international marketing, and what it requires of me as both a copywriter and a marketing executive. My interest started after reading Ms. Norana Johar's piece in FingerTec's annual magazine last year (it's on page 27). 

Know Much?
In her article, she talked about the importance of embracing local cultures when marketing a product internationally, or else suffer from some costly business faux pas. Her accompanying stories proved the point well, but would be too lengthy for me to reitirate. In summary, I basically learnt two things from the article:
  1. Anybody who goes into another's house would do well to be sensitive to the other's culture, or be mistaken as kurang ajar (not taught well), and
  2. The more countries a company is present in, the more the company has to learn.
And from those two things, I summarized one single conclusion. With the large number of countries FingerTec does business in, I've definitely got a lot to learn. 

Taking localization too far, or genius?

A lot. 

A LOT.  

Yes, I just repeated 'a lot' three times for dramatic effect. 

Because IT'S TRUE.

Art of Localization
So what does a 20-something do when he wants to learn about international marketing? Read some comics, of course. I started with Marvel Comics India, which exemplified the localization strategy. At one point in the 2000s, sales were down and they needed to excite the market. So they localized Spiderman, turning the web-slinging Peter Parker into the dhoti-wearing Pavitr Prabhakar. No, i'm not making this up. In retrospect, the comic flopped and Marvel India would've done better with an original Indian superhero rather than re-imagining an Indian version of something. 

Tasting the Difference
So what does a 20-something do when he wants to learn more about international marketing? Get some junk food, of course. A piece of fried chicken from KFC and a bottle of Coke is enough to get you started. In the case of KFC, they've done well in maintaining their Original Recipe chicken in every country they're in, but also supplement them with local concoctions as well as advertisements. This is true even for Coca Cola, who mixes localized marketing with their globally standard drink. Their strategy can be summarized as keeping what's inside the can (the actual drink) the same throughout the world and only changing what's outside the can (its design and advertising) to suit local tastes

Even if I called these flowers bunga tahi ayam,
they'd still smell as nice as any buds from Amsterdam
Closing Thoughts
So what's my conclusion from these examples? Localization is a must-have element when marketing internationally, but too much of it may make your product lose its original appeal. There must be balance, then, and that's what I need to master the most. FingerTec seems to be a good place for me to learn as they have localized marketing materials & display languages, but their products are kept standard. I'm realizing that this is how it's mostly done nowadays, focusing on a product's main selling point and only localizing the supporting elements surrounding it because that would show that the product is strong enough to be marketed internationally. How? A good answer would be this - just like how a rose by any other name would still smell as nice, Face ID 4 would still quickly verify faces regardless of the language used on its packaging. 

About the writer: Afiq Jauhari is a Malaysian Malay male in his late 20s, previously working in a local banking institution before joining FingerTec Worldwide in 2012 as a Junior Copywriter. His interests include basketball, comedy and writing; and still dreams of becoming a well-liked, funny basketball coach with a few bestselling books.  

P/s: Amazes me to no end how Spiderman can still teach me real-life marketing lessons. How about you?

Trying to understand the globe New Markets Among the things that piqued my interest when I first got into FingerTec was the fact tha...