Not content with destroying legacy movie rental services like Blockbuster and convincing millions of people to stop paying for cable TV in the United States, in recent years Netflix has made international expansion the key to its continued success. The company operates in over 190 countries, and in 2018 international streaming produced more revenue for the company than domestic streaming. Meanwhile, the US no longer boasts the most extensive library of Netflix titles. That honour now belongs to Japan.
What’s the secret to Netflix’s global appeal, and what can other businesses learn from it? Here are five localisation strategies that have helped Netflix achieve world domination.
Localisation strategies from Netflix: Start with baby steps.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Netflix’s global empire. As the Harvard Business Review observes, Netflix’s localisation efforts started small, with its 2010 expansion to Canada. By 2015, Netflix was operating in 50 countries. This slow start gave the company a chance to perfect its localisation procedures. By 2018, just three years later, Netflix had expanded to 190 countries.
Localisation strategies from Netflix: Be authentically local.
If you want your international expansion plans to succeed, in most cases it helps if your potential customers feel like you understand them, their needs and their cultural values. (The exception to this rule would be if foreignness is part of the appeal of your product).
Netflix understands this. That’s why they offer a mix of international content translated into local languages and local content created specifically for specific markets.
For example, in a keynote address at Content London, Erik Barmack, vice-president of international originals at Netflix said:
“In terms of programming strategy, where we are coming from is that a show has to feel true and authentic to the country it originates from. If we do a show in India it has to feel loved in that market first for it to have any strategic value for us. Sacred Games [the Hindi-language thriller that debuted on the platform in July] feels sincere and real and there’s something different our consumers are experiencing.”
How does this apply if you’re not in the streaming business? Odds are you’re using some creative content to sell your product. So, consult with local marketers. Use native-language language copywriters to transcreate marketing and advertising when necessary. Read more