Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas around the World

Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays in the world. However, celebrations can vary widely across countries and cultures.

In the UK, celebrations start very early, and many towns switch on their Christmas lights as early as mid-November. Nativity plays and carols are quite popular close to Christmas time, and a lot of houses display a Christmas tree. The main meal is on Christmas Day, which is usually comprised of roast turkey, roast potatoes, vegetables and other trimmings, with Christmas pudding for dessert, and presents are exchanged on the day. On the 26th December, the UK celebrates Boxing Day, which started as the day when collection boxes for the poor kept in churches were opened in order to distribute the contents, but these days is more known as the day when the sales start, which draw huge crowds to the city centre stores.

In Spain, most families eat their main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve. This is a big family occasion and it’s not rare to find 20-25 people gathered in one small room. And true to their reputation as food lovers, they have another large meal for lunch on Christmas Day. The traditional dinner varies from region to region, and it can be anything from turkey to lamb or even seafood. Although children receive some presents on Christmas Day due to influence from other cultures, the main festival is on the 6th January, which celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men, who brought presents to baby Jesus. On the night of the 5th January, it’s traditional to leave shoes on windowsills or balconies with small gifts (mainly food) for the Three Wise Men. When the children wake up, they can find their presents hidden under the bed, provided they have behaved well that year; naughty children can get coal as a punishment (which is not real coal, but a sweet shaped like the mineral).

Similarly to Spain, in Italy Christmas is quite a religious affair. A nativity scene is usually displayed in houses, town squares and churches. Father Christmas, or “Babbo Natale”, brings some presents to the children on Christmas Day, but the main celebration is also on the 6th January, day in which Befana, an old woman, flies from house to house on her broomstick bringing presents to children.

In Australia, Christmas takes place at the the beginning of summer, and it’s quite common in coastal towns to gather and sing Christmas carols on the beach in the run-up to the holidays. Houses are decorated with Christmas trees, bunches of Christmas bush (a shrub native to Australia with cream-coloured flowers which later turn red) and lights. Neighbours can get quite competitive about their displays! Once he gets to Australia, Santa gives his reindeer a much needed rest and swaps them for six kangaroos, or “six white boomers”. Barbecues are also very traditional this time of year.

In the Philippines, Christmas is a mixture of Western and native traditions. Whereas they celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas day and have Santa Claus, it is a tradition to have a bamboo pole (“parol”) with a star-shaped lantern on it, which represents the star that the Three Wise Men followed to get to Bethlehem.

In many other European countries, St Nikolaus is accompanied by a scary character, who acts as a warning to naughty and disobedient children and goes by different names, from “Knecht Ruprecht” in Germany to “Le Pรจre Fouettard” in France.

Finally, in the Czech Republic, the traditional Christmas meal consists of fish soup and fried carp with potato salad. Some people fast during Christmas Eve in the hope of seeing the vision of the "golden pig" on the wall, which is said to bring luck. Also, it's a tradition for an unmarried girl to place a cherry twig under water on the 4th December. It if blossoms by Christmas Eve, she will get married within a year.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Localisation: The best way to increase your revenue

Localisation should be one of the top priorities in the marketing strategy of any company who wishes to have international presence. Research has clearly shown that consumers overwhelmingly prefer localised products. Common Sense Advisory, as part of their “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” study, polled 3,002 consumers in 10 countries in their languages and found a substantial preference for the consumer’s mother tongue. This supports other studies which claim that over 50% of Internet users are more likely to buy from a website in their own language, and 75% do not make important purchase decisions unless the information is presented in their own language.

Similarly, several market research studies, like those published by App Annie, clearly show that a large percentage of the Top 20 games and apps for downloads and revenue across the different markets are in the local language.

With over 70% of Internet users not speaking English as their first language, the potential of localisation is huge. Also, if you take into account the costs of localising a product or website compared to the costs of opening a physical store in a different market, it is not difficult to see why localisation is such an effective strategy.

In order to maximise this potential, you should research and understand your customers in the target market, just like you would in your home country. Understand what makes them tick, and prepare your marketing plan accordingly. Also, tailor your messages and images according to the sensitivities and preferences of the target culture. Every culture is different, and what may be common practice in one country could be considered odd or even offensive in another.

For that reason, it is fundamental to have a localisation partner who can not only adapt the text according to the local culture, but also advise you on any possible cultural issues and how best to penetrate that market. It will be an invaluable help in order to achieve success abroad and increase your revenue.


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