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Localization is the term used when a product is introduced in another country. It is not simply a matter of translating the instructions and text on the package into the language of the country of destination; it is a way of marketing the product to the country’s target audience. Localization integrates the product into the language and culture of the intended country.
If localization has been successfully implemented, a Swiss or French buyer will have a product that they perceive as having been developed and produced in their own country. The product may originate and be exported from America, but the foreign buyer will assume that it is a product from his own country. The location is a tool that helps in the sale of the product.
A product must be highly attuned to the expectations of the target audience and those who influence it. To be successful, localization must pay special attention to the age group, language and subculture of the audience, and the nature of the product itself. There are several factors to consider for successful localization.
One of the most important people to have on board in the localization process is the linguist. This person must be a native speaker of the intended country and a regional expert from that country. He or she should be aware of linguistic idiosyncrasies and cultural differences that can affect the localization process. For example, does the intended country have language-specific humor? Are there prohibited issues of sex and violence that can come into play when marketing computer games? The linguist must be aware of all these factors and know how to deal with them accordingly.
An expert product manager is also required. He needs to know the product and the industry inside out. This person should have an expert opinion on what will work regarding localizing the product in a particular country and how best to use company resources to do so.
There should also be experts available to advise on differences in technical specifications from country to country. Major controls, passwords, and so on for a computer game must be located in the specific country for which it is intended. Also, do not forget that the European electrical outlet system is different from the American system.
Location cannot be left to chance. Only a bank of expert staff can implement a successful localization strategy. You can change hundreds of things in the product, but there might still be one simple thing you missed. Delays and errors are not just financially expensive; they can ruin a company’s reputation.