Some companies are learning firsthand how important localization is when it comes to appealing to people in other countries. But brands can’t get complacent once they grab the attention of customers overseas.
If you want to stay competitive in today’s multinational marketplace, you have to keep updating your localization efforts. Yum China, which owns Pizza Hut and KFC chains in China, is just one brand that has discovered this the hard way. Here are a few lessons you can learn from this company’s venture into the Chinese market.
The Importance of Knowing the Culture
When Yum China opened its first KFC in China in the 1980s, it was clear those in charge of the brand had done their homework. At the time, the fast food industry was still in its infancy in China, and Yum China was able to capitalize on that, allowing KFC to quickly become a household name.
But the lack of other fast food options wasn’t the only reason the brand thrived in China. Its owners also understood the need to localize, and as such, they hired Chinese employees. These employees were able to assist in the localization process and guide the company’s marketing strategy, ensuring that the menu created appealed to the taste buds of Chinese residents.
Many companies ignore the option of localization and prefer instead to create a marketing plan without fully taking into consideration the culture of their target audience. This can lead to unintended offense such as when a company’s name or product does not properly translate into the new language or, at the very least, it can result in the company simply failing to reach and falling flat with the target audience.
Getting Involved in the Community
Another reason Yum China achieved such success in it’s initial efforts is because the brand got involved with the local government agencies. This is an important part of localization, since being familiar with the government can give businesses a competitive advantage.
This move was especially helpful in China, where having local connections is considered a necessity for brands hoping to succeed. This is another example of Yum China having done its research on the culture.
Monitoring and Adjusting Localization Efforts
For years, Yum China enjoyed a lot of success overseas, eventually launching Pizza Hut once it was clear that the locals were big fans of KFC. But this brand’s golden years in China eventually began to dwindle.
In recent years, these fast food restaurants have not done nearly as well as they once did. One of the reasons is that the brand did not make an effort to grow and change with the rest of China.
KFC and Pizza Hut are no longer the only fast food options in China, which means Yum China has to try harder to grab the attention of locals. In addition, Chinese people do not necessarily have the same food preferences as they did a couple of decades ago, indicating a need to refresh the menu.
Coming to this realization, the brand has recently started taking steps to adjust their menus and marketing efforts. In order to once again find appeal among its Chinese buyers, Yum China has revived its research efforts and plans to continue to adjust their localization strategy by adding new menu items and options. If they do their job right, Yum China might just find success in this market again.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that once you’ve completed your initial localization efforts no further work needs to be done. However, as any good marketing team knows, your audience’s tastes are ever changing and evolving.
In order to ensure that your own localization efforts do not loose their luster overtime, make sure you keep an eye on those foreign markets you’ve targeted and continue to make updates and adjustments so that you stay relevant and popular.