Posts

What is Happiness In China? The Answer May Surprise You

What is happiness? It’s one of the most basic human emotions. The pursuit of it is considered a basic human right, enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence and recognised by the UN as a “fundamental human goal.” But what is it? And is it the same on the other side of the world?

Spoiler Alert: No, it’s not. In fact, the belief that happiness is universal is a common mistake that could impact how you market your  global business. After all, “happiness” is one of the major emotions that marketers appeal to. Here are some examples of how happiness varies across cultures, and some tips to avoid this common international marketing pitfall.

Why Happiness Gets Lost in Translation

Why is “happiness” so hard to translate?  To start, it’s more difficult than you’d think to define it, even in English. Sure, Merriam-Webster may define it as “the state of being happy.” But if it were that easy, the self-help industry wouldn’t be raking in billions of dollars, would it?  In the pop culture of the English-speaking world, it’s been described as everything from a warm puppy to a warm gun.

So, what is happiness? Even sociologists who study happiness for a living have had trouble creating a definition that translates easily to other languages and other cultures. As the Washington Post points out, that’s the trouble with all the studies that claim to have identified the “happiest countries,” usually Denmark. The definition of happiness may have been lost in translation:

Some researchers say the reason is that happiness in Danish is often translated as lykke — a term that can describe a kind of everyday well-being that might be brought on by a nice cup of coffee or a slice of bread with cheese.”

Although now that I think about it, good coffee and good cheese make me a very happy girl, and I’m not even Danish. What is happiness? Is there more to it than that? I’m not sure.

In most languages, there are a variety of possible translations for “happiness.” Each one carries its own shades of meaning, and often none of them match the English definition exactly. For example, researchers studying happiness in China used three different words in surveys and interviews, “xingfu for a good life, you yiyi for meaning and kuaile for a good mood.” Read more

5 Ways to Give Your Digital Content International Appeal

Image from Pixabay

Over the past 20 years, ecommerce sales have skyrocketed. And this unstoppable growth looks set to continue, with Bigcommerce predicting that worldwide B2C ecommerce revenues will reach $2 trillion in 2015.

The message for businesses is clear – the internet offers brands huge opportunities to reach new markets and increase sales. Read more

3 Notable International Business Failures to Learn From

Conquering a new international market can be tricky. Even the largest companies make mistakes — and you can learn from them. For example, here are 3 times big brands tried to expand into new countries, only to come limping back. Let’s see what lessons we can take from these international business failures.

Starbucks in Israel

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With more than 24,000 stores in 70 countries, Starbucks is no stranger to international business.  But their attempt at expanding into Israel was not quite so successful. The first Starbucks in Israel opened in Tel Aviv in 2001. The plan was to open 20 Israeli stores in just the first year. But by 2003, the coffee company was abandoning the country entirely. What happened?

Middle Eastern politics being what the are, the store closings ignited a firestorm of contradictory rumours. Did they close because they hate Israel? Are they secretly a “Muslim organisation?” Or were they secretly sending profits to support the Israeli Army? The truth is out there!

No, really, it is…it’s just not that exciting.

Starbucks expected Israeli consumers to give them the royal treatment, but they didn’t bother to thoroughly research the country’s existing coffee culture. According to The Jerusalem Post:

“In Israel, Italian cafe offerings like espresso and macchiato coexist with strong, flavorful Turkish coffee made simply by brewing coffee grinds in hot water and letting them settle into “mud” at the bottom of the cup. It’s rare to see a standard American filter coffee — in my experience it tastes like weakly flavored hot water.”

Read more

11 Thought-Provoking Social Media and International Marketing Statistics for 2016

For businesses, social media is an opportunity to connect with existing and potential customers around the world. But do you know enough to use it effectively? If you think a “one country fits all” social strategy is enough, think again. Here are 11 statistics about social media around the world to fuel your international marketing campaigns:

Asia now has more internet users than Western Europe and North America put together.

International Marketing Takeaways:Planning to market your business in Asia? The internet is your friend. Localised social media should be part of your marketing strategy. That means targeting content to local languages and preferences. It may also mean developing a presence on local social networks.  These networks can rival or exceed Western giants like Facebook in some markets.  Read more

6 Truths About Multilingual Customer Service You Need to Know 

When it comes to customer service, is one language enough? More and more often, the answer is “no.” You have to be able to communicate with your customers, even if they don’t speak English. That said, each organisation has unique multilingual customer service needs and capabilities. Here are 6 facts and statistics about multilingual customer service to help you determine how best to serve your global customer base.

Multilingual Customer Service Increases Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

Did you know that your customers are more likely to come back if you offer customer support in their language? It’s true!

In fact, according to as 2014 report from Common Sense Advisory, 74% of customers would be more likely to purchase from a company that offered post-sales support in their language.

Meanwhile,  a 2014 report from ICMI yielded these insights:

  • 71.5% of customer service leaders interviewed “said support in a customer’s native language increased their satisfaction with customer support.
  • 58.4% said it increased their loyalty to the brand.

Multilingual Customer Service: One Weird Trick to Make Your Customers Trust You

You want your customers to trust you, right? Of course you do. It’s no surprise that people prefer to hand over their hard earned money to organisations that they trust. And they trust people who speak their language and speak it well.

For example, in an interview with EurActiv.com, Martin Hope of the British Council observed that
“companies that learn the language of the countries they do business with will thrive in the future, making it easier to build trust relationships and helping them to understand how people think.”

Meanwhile, in ICMI’s 2014 report on multilingual customer service [PDF], one call center manager observed that  “Our callers trust us more and think we are providing more accurate information when we speak to them in their native language.”

And a 2014 report by Whale Path found that thought leaders in various industries called multilingual customer service “a   useful   tool   in   establishing   trust   and  leveraging  care  and  activities  an  aggregate  75%  of  the  time.”  Read more