Poor Localization Practices Can Not Only Impact Your Marketing Strategies, but Your Sales. Here’s What Brands Need to Know to Localize Effectively.

Poor Localization marketing and low sales

By Izzie Xu, Director of Localization, Croud

Inaccurate cultural references and poorly-translated content are a recipe for a marketing disaster waiting to happen—and can drive global consumers away from buying your product and instead, into the arms of your competition. The good news? It’s completely avoidable and within your power to ensure that  you’re not only hitting your target demographics but reaching them in the most culturally-relevant ways. But first, you’ve got to put in the leg work and familiarize yourself with your audience’s cultural norms, behaviors, needs, desires and market nuances. Making your consumers feel both seen and understood takes time and effort—and is all too often overlooked. But it’s the key to successfully localized campaigns, products and services—whatever it is your marketing.

Embrace the Details

Cultural appropriation, stereotypes and slang can each create marketing-related challenges. It’s not just a matter of using soft skills to hit the right notes when it comes to localization and language; it could mean the difference between keeping or losing international customers, especially when launching in fresh territory.

Performance marketing agency Croud’s report on international localization surveyed consumer attitudes toward brand localization across Western Europe and the Asian Pacific, demonstrating that as a result of language and cultural inaccuracies, over half (57%) of consumers experienced difficulties purchasing from brands.

In fact, nearly one in four (24%) consumers said that inaccurate cultural references or content on a brand’s website would not only lower their trust in that brand but also cause their interest in purchasing something to come to a screeching halt. Furthemore, more than two-thirds (69%) of consumers stated their expectation that international brands would tailor both video and imagery to their respective location and language. This means that a language shift is not enough, as consumers increasingly expect to see individuals who look and live like them in the brand advertising they encounter on a daily basis.

A Closer Look at Each Market

Recognize that in order to make a good first brand impression, you’ve got to ensure that every piece of content and every single image is linguistically and culturally relevant. In fact, when we break the data down by market, we further uncover just how crucial accurate, nuanced translation can be in leading a brand to success. Two in five (40%) German consumers surveyed stated that they would be less inclined to purchase from a brand if they came across untranslated or poorly translated content, with one-third (36%) suggesting that they’d opt for a competitor instead. This mistrust was similarly found in Japan, where nearly half (44%) of consumers stated that they would lose trust in a brand due to poor translation, with 29% taking action to look for alternatives. In China, 42% would seek out local reviews for reassurance after experiencing poorly translated advertising.

Mobile Matters

Across all markets, 32% of respondents replied that website optimization for mobile experiences was “essential” to their shopping habits—which is to say that brands must consider mobile environments in every instance moving forward.

Real and Local Remain Key

Equally important, three in five (61%) of consumers said that in order to trust testimonials and reviews from people who purchased the product they’re considering, those reviewers must also be local and speak their native language. Local currency is equally important, with one-fourth (26%) of respondents across all markets stating that they would not buy from a brand that exclusively uses foreign currencies on their website. Even though it may seem inconsequential at first, if consumers from China see an ad depicting a price in euros or pounds for instance, they have one more reason to walk away from making that purchase.


No ad will ever land if the message isn’t something customers want to hear about or related to something they care about. In other words, relevance is everything to success. Relevant and appropriately localized ads, content and imagery drive results. So when launching into a new market, get on the ground, do your homework and educate yourself about that market. Then put your learnings into practice and weave them into every piece of marketing you’re planning.