APAC Meaning: How Do You Localize for It?
As the world gradually becomes a global village, companies, particularly those in North America and Europe, are shifting their attention to the international markets in a bid for sustainability and profitability.
Most of that focus is on the Asia Pacific region, meaning immense growth, expansion opportunities, and challenges exist. The challenges are unique owing to the distinct diversity exhibited by each country, city, and consumer.
But gone are the days when a simple translation or transcreation passed for a brand identity targeting customers regionwide. Markets have grown exponentially, and so have the customers’ expectations and demands.
Understanding their needs and tailoring your communication marks the first step towards forming an authentic connection. However, this may need to be more specific based on the audience’s proper message decoding, which can only be achieved through localization.
What Does APAC Stand For?
APAC is an acronym for Asia Pacific, meaning the region that encompasses countries from East Asia to Southern Asia and Oceania. Like America, the APAC region is a melting point of cultures, ethnicities, histories, and socio-economic landscapes and consists of over 23 countries and 3000 languages.
Economic Significance of the APAC region
The Asia Pacific region comprises developed markets like Australia and Japan and emerging markets like China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The region is an economic powerhouse influencing growth, as evidenced by the factors below.
The Asia Pacific region accounts for more than half the world’s population and is home to the most and least populous countries. China and India have a combined population of almost three billion people. India is set to overtake China by the end of 2023, while the least populous countries are Brunei, Fiji, Maldives, and Bhutan.
As of 2021, Asia and Pacific’s countries had a total GDP of $35 trillion, which amounted to 37% of the world’s GDP and is set to rise to 42% by 2040. The growth is attributed to the emerging markets of India and China, which are critical drivers of world consumption.
Since the advancement of Web 3.0 technologies, the Internet has become an integral tool in today’s life. From enhancing communication, solidifying human interactions and relations, and conducting businesses, the Asia-Pacific region has not been left behind.
Its consumption in the region has grown exponentially, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it doesn’t seem to slow down.
This is evident from the blooming of online users in 2022, which peaked at over 2.6 billion people. Moreover, the social media penetration rate currently stands at 79.4%, with Facebook recording over 1.3B active users, while e-commerce accounts for over 2B users with weekly returning clients.
How to Localize for the APAC Region
Though the APAC countries have made great strides in advancing their technologies, they still need to catch up to Europe and America in fully embracing ICT. This is partly because of the hefty costs involved in hardware acquisition and installation and the computing languages used.
As stated earlier, the region boasts over 3000 languages and sub-dialects only specific to certain groups. There are 22 official languages, 121 languages, and 270 local dialects in India alone.
So, how can localization be achieved amid linguistic barriers?
At face value, localization may mean translation, which involves converting texts, images, or media from one language to another while retaining the original meaning and context.
However, the context of localization is far-reaching. Dealing with graphics, images, or a website encompasses understanding the digital product and tailoring it to speak to the customer’s pain points to give them a better user experience.
Though the left-to-right writing format is widespread and commonly used, the right-to-left writing format is still prevalent in some countries and local communities. In Maldives, the Maldivian language takes this format, and considering it, it improves the ease of navigation during localization.
When localizing content, it is essential to note that many Asia-Pacific countries have a comprehensive and unique typography of languages that take into account fonts and spacing. These include Japan, Vietnam, and Korea.
Graphics and Images
When dealing with graphics materials, it is important to tailor them to the country’s culture or include elements that reflect and resonate with the audience’s culture. These may include people’s physical attributes like skin color, staple foods, and national flag colors.
Importance of Localization for the APAC Region
It promotes sales
No doubt, the localization of a service or product increases people’s exposure to them. Tailoring a commodity for the cities and local communities ensures it reaches a broader market, which inherently scales a company’s sales.
It provides a competitive advantage
With the stiff competition in and for the APAC market, localizing for the market is a competitive leverage for customer acquisition. Recognizing your customer’s needs and communicating to them in a language they understand is the difference between being a market leader and a follower.
It reinforces professionalism
While translation involves replacing word for word, localization involves understanding and incorporating the meaning and context of a message, including colloquialisms, idioms, jokes, slang, and cultural references, which require a professional.
The use of localization professionals to promote marketing communications shows a commitment to the regulatory policies and the market to understand and fulfill their needs.
Establishing an in-depth understanding of each region and its practices
Countries in the APAC region have distinct characteristics, including religion, language, values, and cultural practices, which influence their lives and decisions.
It is then essential to understand each country and what works where instead of taking the whole region collectively. In a business setting, values like punctuality and respect are appreciated in Japan, while recognition of hierarchy is vital in India.
Similarly, privacy is held in high regard, and smiles are often reserved for family and friends in Japan, while in India, where interactions with strangers are welcomed, smiling and being friendly are the norm.
Develop a market-tailored marketing strategy
While a single marketing strategy may work for multiple European markets, using the same for different APAC regions is a recipe for failure. Countries exhibit other marketing behaviors, which need careful examination to understand the best marketing channels for each.
The acquisition of strategic partners in an expansion scheme in Eastern Asia is centric on a company’s success. Partners like crucial opinion leaders akin to influencers in Western countries have a massive follower base through which they can significantly influence brand recognition and consumer behaviors.
Having a diverse team
Hiring people from the region you want to expand into is the best way to break market barriers and fasten market penetration. The human resources are native to the market, know the market trends, regulatory requirements, and cultural practices, and may offer valuable insights.
Challenges of Content Localization for the APAC region
Numerous problems may inhibit the localization process and inherently render it ineffective.
Loss of meaning
Continuous content localization to accommodate the diverse Asian Pacific markets may require adding words or meanings to the original content. The loss may be small but significant when a mood or tone cannot be fully replicated and communicated.
The localization process demands valuable resources such as time and qualified human personnel, which may need to be improved.
The APAC region is lucrative, and many companies want a share. And if you’re one of them, your localization strategies should be up there before you can write down your expansion strategies.
Localization is the bridge between understanding the cultural nuances, including languages and geopolitics, which influence the consumption behavior of the block.