In today’s global economy, long-term growth strategies typically include expanding into international markets, whether on the ground or on the web. Too often companies do not consider how information they present to those markets may be perceived. Localized user research allows companies to evaluate their sensitivity to language, imagery and other cultural distinctions critical to encouraging local users to purchase foreign products.
In a recently released independent localization study, User Centric, Inc. (usercentric.com), a Chicago-based user experience firm, and 10 Chinese user research experts associated with User Experience, LTD evaluated 31 Chinese websites* of American products, services and brands in six consumer industries: automobile, consumer products, electronics, fast food, service, and travel. It was concluded that of the 31 websites, the majority of US businesses still have some room for improving how their websites are localized. This type of localized user research helps to understand how local consumers interact with products and services, and ultimately how consumers make their purchases.
“Accommodating culture in a way that appeals to local users, but also reflects the company’s brand and mission is at the core of the modern global economy,” User Centric Managing Director Robert Schumacher said. “To become a globally recognized brand, businesses must adopt the proper outreach to local markets. Technology that feels local—with familiar imagery, language, time and date, weights and measurements, currency—resonates far more than companies who seem culturally distant.”
While it is true that consumers want the availability to purchase foreign products, localization is an emerging and important business strategy. Testing on the ground with local users is an investment that will set apart brands in the eyes of the consumer and ultimately result in a better user experience, fostering brand acceptance and loyalty.
*Websites evaluated include Amway, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Citibank, Dell, FedEx, Ford, Haagen-Dazs, Hilton, Holiday Inn, HP, Hyatt, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, KFC, Kodak, Marriot, Mary Kay, McDonald’s, Motorola, Northwest, Pizza Hut, P&G, Starbucks, Unilever, United, UPS, Visa, Western Union, Whirlpool.