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Marketing Brand Strategy Business Leadership

Global marketing success starts with local human understanding

By Tim Bonnet | president



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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October 13, 2022 | 5 min read

What makes consumers tick? For The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive, Tim Bonnet of conversion agency group Unlimited argues that the only way to answer that question is to go deep on understanding the rich tapestry of global differences.

A microscope up close

Want to go global? Start with the local detail, says Unlimited’s Tim Bonnet / Misael Moreno via Unsplash

Keeping consumers engaged is more difficult than ever when targeting an audience in one market, let alone when launching global campaigns. Brands that struggle to speak the right language and convey the right messages to international audiences are setting themselves up for failure.

It’s increasingly crucial for brands to understand what drives consumer behavior and inspires people to interact with the content they consume. Doing this globally requires a human-first approach, with specialists deep-rooted in local cultures and tastes.

Global relationships boost local understanding

Appealing to consumers in different countries within the same advertising or marketing campaign is challenging, but also increasingly important. Ensuring relevancy to consumers is critical to achieving this, and it’s very difficult without local insight directing tone, content and imagery.

Localizing content incorrectly or ineffectively can see a perfectly good campaign ruined, wasting significant time and money invested in production, PR, marketing, social media activity, website content and more.

For that reason, at Unlimited we created a global alliance with European agency Serviceplan Group and Japanese firm Hakuhodo to help us combine human understanding with local knowledge in every market we work in. The partnership is vital to helping ourselves and our clients gain locally-rooted insights we wouldn’t previously have had.

The importance of local understanding

Understanding local markets and cultural context within global work is essential. The use of humor in marketing campaigns is a good example. While laughter is a universal language, helping create content that audiences enjoy and remember, failing to understand local nuances can lead to disaster. The sarcasm, satire and slapstick that delights UK audiences doesn’t always translate to American viewers, and could deeply offend people in other countries.

You can’t simply ‘copy and paste’ marketing and advertising content between countries and regions. Instead, localize with local insight rather than simply translating to ensure the campaign resonates locally. Our Human Understanding Lab and neuroscience techniques are particularly helpful in demonstrating how to tweak creative work to improve this impact at a local level.

A great example of this is how Unlimited has helped to deliver a pan-European campaign showing how technology could improve customers’ daily lives for multinational electronics firm LG. Working with our partners at Serviceplan, we adapted and tweaked messages that catered to audiences in different nations, considering cultural differences, brand perception, local language, tweaks to humor, performance planning and product emphasis.

Neuroscience insights from our Human Understanding Lab found that localization helped the campaign become one of LG’s best-performing ads; strong creative ensured high levels of engagement and viewer action. Having tested previously translated creative that failed to deliver in three key markets, these small tweaks completely reversed any negative perception.

How human understanding drives growth and relationships

In the modern world of low-attention, technology-overloaded advertising and marketing, understanding what makes customers tick has become key for brands. Despite the rising demand for self-service and instant delivery, deep down people still want authentic, genuine interactions with brands. They still thrive on sharing great brand experiences or content that moves them or makes them laugh.

Human understanding is crucial to brands growing and developing relationships with consumers all over the world. Using insights from neuroscience helps us adapt and optimize creative and messaging to ensure it resonates with the different emotional responses and needs in different countries.

With artificial intelligence (AI), brands can identify the right people to target with relevant content based on patterns of behavior and how to move specific audiences using behavioral science frameworks. Putting human understanding at the center of advertising and marketing campaigns helps brands to understand what drives action and boosts performance across complex local and global customer journeys.

So if advertisers and marketers are to become truly connected and inclusive on a global scale, they need to gain local insights and understand what drives people to engage with their content. The value of partnering with agencies that understand the specific intricacies of localized audiences cannot be underestimated.

For more on what marketers and their partners need to do to succeed on a global level, check out The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive.
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UNLIMITED is the UK’s leading conversion agency. Our mission is to create genuine business advantage for clients, and we do this by uncovering behaviour-led insights from our Human Understanding Lab.

We are a fully integrated agency group with Human Understanding at the heart. Our four, award-winning divisions; marketing, communications, insight & analytics and digital, drive our creativity and define our solutions.

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