Why this social experiment proves cultural sensitivity is everything.

Why this social experiment proves cultural sensitivity is everything.

If you consumed some form of digital media in the past month, chances are you’ll be familiar with a social experiment dubbed “Perceptions of Perfection: Part ii”. The initiative, rolled out by UK based online pharmacy Superdrug Online Doctors saw graphic designers from all corners of the globe retouch the same image in line with their culture’s image of the ‘perfect man’. Once all the images were sent back, the project’s founders were left with nineteen versions that were all vastly different from the original, as well as from each other.

Each different designer’s unique interpretation of this concept emphasizes just how differently we see the world around us.

Participants were given artistic license as to how they could alter the image, which resulted in changes being made to skin color, body hair, eye color, muscularity and even underwear. In an effort to demonstrate that there’s no such thing as an universal ideal, the project’s press release said: “Watch [the image] evolve based on each culture’s beauty standards and ethnic norms: barrel-chested or slim, muscular thighs or sinewy legs, wide eyes or hooded lids, a smattering of body hair or a baby-smooth body.” While Perceptions of Perfection aimed to highlight the importance of health over image, as well as to promote body confidence – regardless of what your particular body looks like – the findings aren’t only of interest to anthropologist and socialist, but to companies looking to localize their products too.

So what can we learn from this demonstration on the unique characteristics of various cultures?

The biggest takeaway from the way the designers altered the image is that cultural sensitivity and nuance is a subtly entrenched aspect of every single culture. But that’s where the similarities end. While all of the retouched images still resembled a man, their subtle (and in some cases, glaringly obvious) tweaks emphasized the fact that no two cultures view the world in the same way. Just as there’s no such thing as a global ideal of how the perfect man should look, there’s no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to branding, images, colors and messaging. If you showed China’s rendering to someone in, Russia, for example, upon insisting that this was in fact, the very definition of an ideal man, you’d have a hard time finding anyone who agreed with you. Hop on plane to China however, and most people would probably concur with you.

The interpretation of both visual, written and audio content is completely dependent on the culture at hand.

Our cultural climate influences our relationship with myriad things: from a photograph, joke or common turn of phrase, to an instructional video, press release and even, product packaging. For companies in the process of expanding into a foreign market, being cognizant of cultural sensitivity should be top of mind. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Countless instances of cringe-worthy localization abound. One such example saw the Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York equate staying at their establish with a ‘stay’ at the Taj Mahal, According to Translation Directory, What their marketing department failed to realize however, is that the Taj Mahal is in fact a mausoleum, which is probably the last place any living person would want to spend a night.

Make sure that all of your product localization prioritize cultural sensitivity by contacting us today to learn more about how we created quality localized assets that seamlessly fit into the culture at hand.

Image Credit: onlinedoctor.superdrug.com

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Why cultural sensitivity should be the main focus of your international marketing plan

Why cultural sensitivity should be the main focus of your international marketing plan

However you choose to define cultural sensitivity, what it comes down to is the awareness that cultural differences and similarities between people exist – without placing any judgment on whether the cultural disparity is positive or negative, better or worse, or right or wrong. This is a crucial challenge for marketers to take on when adapting their marketing strategy to suit a foreign country they wish to expand into. Implementing a marketing strategy without cultural sensitivity in mind can result in unintentionally offending or alienating your new target market, which can lead to a drop in sales – or worse.

The key to cracking the cultural sensitivity code is research that’s guided by localization experts.

When creating and implementing your marketing strategy, you need to appeal to the right target market by avoiding the use of any messaging or imagery that may offend or isn’t culturally aligned. Many marketers forget that cultural sensitivity pertains to far more than merely the language of the target market. Every single aspect of your marketing strategy should be structured with cultural sensitivity in mind. This includes your advertising, promotions and product labels. Without scrutinizing your marketing strategy in its entirety, you risk putting your (proverbial) foot in your mouth. For example, while French is the official language of Senegal, it’s only regularly spoken by the educated minority. The majority of the population speak a variety of ethnic languages. In Dakar, for example, Wolof is the lingua franca. This case underlines the importance of performing thorough research – preferably guided by localization experts – into your target market.

1.Qualitative research:

Qualitative research involves accumulating data through the use of traditional qualitative tools, including interviews and focus groups. Both tools help to effectively gather information about the target market’s thoughts, attitudes and sensitivities. However, keep in mind that not all cultures are willing to participate in interviews or open discussions, as in some cultures, the act of disagreeing with one another is considered to be rude. In addition, you run the risk of touching on subjects that are perceived as taboo in certain countries, making the use of a localization service provider a crucial inclusion.

2.Quantitative research:

Quantitative research makes use of surveys and questionnaires to collect information. Although this method is useful, its practicality greatly depends on a number of factors, such as whether the demographic has the necessary technology available. These factors vary from country to country, so take this into account before investing in this method. Cultural sensitivity is another crucial aspect to take into account when setting up the questions for your questionnaire. Doing extensive research can help reveal what questions might be perceived as rude or insulting to your particular target market. The correct phrasing of questions, as well as ensuring that you correctly translate these according to the target market, is vital if you want your report to be accurate.

Seek help from the professionals.

If you are marketing to a country that’s extremely diverse in cultures, or simply different from your own, it’s vital that you ensure that no aspect of your campaign will offend. When it comes to the localization of your products and services, it’s wise to work hand-in-hand with a localization consultancy and service provider. Without this crucial expertise, you risk offending your potential market, and suffering the multitude of associated negative ramifications (one of which is your profit margin taking a hit as a result)

Contact us today to find out how our localization services help you to ensure your global expansion is a resounding success.

Image Credit: www.journeymexico.com

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