Countries, Cultures, Character Hot on the shoulders of design factor 10 "target groups" we move on to the special requirements and cultural peculiarities of the market. Markets can be both real or in many cases these days can also be virtual as transactions take place on the web.
Before we start any project it is important to understand or decide whether the product or brand is to be sold for the global market or for a small local niche market. In the case of the world market the lowest common denominator tends to rule and cultural sensitivities of the various markets are neglected. The product and the brand message must be strong enough that they remain aspirational across a wide range of cultures and value systems across the globe. Products destined for a local market, are very different to this and can take on a much more specific look and feel aligned to a specific preference of that sub set. That said it is important to note that a product may out grow its market and may need to find alternative markets to grow in. It is vital that this requirement is flagged early on in the development process and planned for.
From a design and brand perspective things get particularly interesting when adaptation to cultural standards are necessary, or even bring benefits. For example, in the Chinese market, international brands have been adjusting their marketing and product design for years. At first, the imported goods were attractive in their original state, precisely because they came from overseas and therefore held a certain status value. However over time, as the market has developed, the brand and marketing communication has been adapted and now products are modified or even completely re-engineered to fit with the local needs.
A further sensitive factor to consider is the many languages spoken across the globe. Products communicated in the local language tend to outperform those using the universal language of English, but at what size it is worthwhile to make a separate edition? It is important to note that translations should always be done carefully and precisely! Nothing hurts a company's image more than incorrectly used language!
Not only do language and geographical boundaries effect brands, but markets can differentiate themselves by the levels of local expertise, knowledge and an associated jargon. Adjusting product communication to match this level can have very positive effects.
All things considered before beginning any project it is worthwhile to draw a "map" on which the various relevant markets will be located and to then begin understanding those market's similarities and differences.
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