Majority of Marketers Unsatisfied with Localization But Fail to Prioritize It in Budget

Most marketers are unsatisfied with the way their teams are localizing branded content for different markets, yet fail to prioritize this need in their budgets, a new CMO Council report revealed.

According to the report, 63% of marketers feel they’re “not doing well at all,” “need improvement,” or “getting better” when asked how effectively they adapt, modify and/or localize branded content for different markets, audiences, partners, and geographies. Just 33% rated themselves high, saying their organizations are “very advanced in this area” or “doing well.”

Despite the clear need to localize – with 50% of marketers saying it’s essential to business growth and profitability – most marketing teams simply do not have the budget to execute their goals. As high as 75% said they are spending 10% or less of their budgets on localization efforts.

Partnering with HH Global, the CMO Council released its “Age of Adaptive Marketer” report where it detailed the findings of a poll conducted among 150 marketing executives in a range of industries during the second quarter of 2017. The report included comments from the top management of US-headquartered companies Pepsi, Chobani, and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

As consumers increasingly expect brands to engage with them in the most relevant ways, almost half of survey respondents cited localization demands – including language, cultural values, and other sensitivities – as the top factor “putting pressure” on marketing teams to more effectively deliver branded content at scale.

But at the same time, ensuring that content is properly localized (34%) without diluting the brand’s overall identity (43%), as well as shorter lead times and deadlines (47%) are among the biggest challenges for marketers.

“In today’s day and age, there is an expectation that customer experiences happen in total context to the consumer, yet localization whether it’s around the globe or around the corner is still a far-off goal for far too many organizations,” the CMO Council noted in its report.

No Formal Assessment

The lack of proper budgets has affected marketers’ ability to meet the demands of global markets and how quickly they deliver localized content.

When asked how they rate the speed, responsiveness and capability of their in-house marketing teams or agencies in supporting global and local execution requirements and demands, just 7% said they’re “very advanced” and 23% are “doing well.” Sixty-nine percent said they’re “getting better,” “need improvement,” or “not good at all.”

“There is an expectation that customer experiences happen in total context to the consumer, yet localization is still a far-off goal for far too many organizations” — CMO Council

Specifically, only 17% of marketers are able to deploy global and local content across all touchpoints simultaneously, while 6% admit that digital assets are able to launch on the same day as global campaigns, but physical touchpoints like print take much longer to deploy. While 15% are able to accelerate localized launches within days of a global deployment, 44% need weeks or even months to deploy.

Meanwhile, the study also found that many companies are utilizing only basic project management (53%) and collaboration tools (49%) to manage their creative delivery process.

In addition, while most marketers are not satisfied with their localization efforts, 58% have not undertaken a formal assessment of their creative delivery process which is the report’s “most surprising insight,” according to HH Global VP for Marketing and Sales Operations Mark Tiedens.

Why? “My best guess is time. Meeting deadlines and following up with adapted content after initial creative goes to market both take priority over efforts to assess and improve current technologies, processes and resources,” he said.

Resonate with the Consumer

The CMO Council report included some insights from C-level executives of well-known US brands on localizing branded content.

Jennifer McCarthy, Starwood Hotels and Resorts VP of Global Brand Design and Marketing, stressed that customizing messages for individual markets guarantees that the content will be more successful. “Whether editing the imagery or the text, slight adjustments to some of the brand’s programs or marketing can increase its resonate with the consumer,” she said.

However, PepsiCo Chief Customer Officer Ram Krishnan cautioned against losing the brand’s identity in the process. He explained, “If you lose that, then you lose the soul of your brand.”

Localization does not only apply to the global context, but also domestic, said Peter McGuinness, Chief Marketing Officer of Chobani.

“The 50 states are not always the united 50 states of America, and there are different points of view, consumers, socioeconomic backgrounds, race and ethnicity ratios and histories to all of the states,” he said. “Blanketing the United States with one message may be efficient in terms of cost per 1,000 perspectives, but efficiency based on the number of eyeballs reached is not a measure of success.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy urged brands to use technology to improve efficiency and track impact. She claimed her organization decreased its spending around localized branded content by nearly USD 3m after launching a tool for this purpose.