Local market expertise forgotten in international marketing

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Digital marketing agency Croud has today published a report looking at the state of international marketing. The report reveals that the majority (58%) of marketers do not use local market expertise to tailor campaigns in every region they are operational in, and instead rely on central ‘hub teams’ in one location to run international campaigns.

The report, ‘International Marketing Report: Uncovering the power of local’, asked over 250 marketers how they manage international campaigns, what the biggest challenges are and how global campaigns are managed. The results of the study reveal a large disparity between current common practice and what the marketers perceive as successful.

Local expertise

The most inconsistent finding is the lack of local expertise used for international marketing campaigns. An overwhelming majority of marketers (76%) believe having a team member with local market knowledge is important to delivering results, yet just 42% currently practise this.

Unsurprisingly, given over half of all retail marketers do not have local marketing support, almost a quarter (24%) state that a lack of local expertise is their biggest challenge. Lack of consistent measurement across markets is also an issue for 24% of retail marketers.

Tools for the job

The report reveals that half of all large businesses with a turnover of £51m-£100m use Google Translate. More than half (51%) of retail marketers translate marketing content across various geographies, yet less than a third (29%) consider full localisation.

However, it does appear many marketers are aware of the shortcomings of using such basic tools: The vast majority of retail marketers (79%), financial service marketers (69%) and manufacturing marketers (80%) agree translation isn’t enough to deliver relevant and effective digital marketing campaigns across multiple markets.

One size fits all?

According to the report, a third of all marketers admit to running the same campaigns across all regions, without any tailoring.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of marketers choose not to target campaigns based on local audience insight, whilst 67% do not run campaigns on platforms popular in different local markets. Instead, 43% of marketers are most likely to translate copy into each language they are marketing to, using quick fix tools such as Google Translate.

The study also polled marketers to discover the level of understanding they had of cultural nuances in the regions in which they run marketing campaigns, revealing a lack of understanding. In fact:

  • A whopping 63% of marketers running campaigns in Europe believe Oktoberfest is a national holiday in Germany
  • 62% of marketers who operate in Russia incorrectly believe Russians celebrate Christmas Day on 5 January
  • Despite this lack of cultural understanding, the majority (70%) did recognise Yandex as the predominant search engine in Russia

Costly misconceptions

The research shows that marketers think using local expertise makes it more expensive to run international campaigns and this might be holding back marketing teams, despite their awareness of the benefits. In fact, 70% of marketers confessed this to be true.

Luke Smith, CEO and Co-Founder at Croud said: “It’s risky to dismiss local expertise just because it’s expensive. In fact, recent examples from Coca-Cola and Gap show it can be incredibly costly. A failure to properly localise international campaigns can have a serious impact on the bottom line and brand reputation.

Tech innovation and a global workforce mean there are now more efficient ways for brands to manage international campaigns and access local expertise. Partners that have local experts available on demand can be a cost-effective solution. Dialling up or down the volume of work helps increase efficiency and results whilst reducing risks.”

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