Lost in Translation

in Fern Lee by on January 31st, 2017No Comments


Thank you Electronic Retailing Magazine for printing the following article written by Lori Zeller, Managing Partner of THOR Associates:

Given the deluge of information consumers face, it is even more important to think culturally when it comes to direct and brand response marketing.

 When attempting to build a brand, you must understand instant gratification, touchpoints, authenticity, credibility, and e-commerce tactics within their cultural settings. There are differences between Hispanic and Anglo consumers, which means that direct and brandresponse marketing must address each individual’s consumer journey.

In Spanish, the paragraph above likely would be written differently toconvey the parallel meaning. “Con diluvio en todos los canales de información con lo que el consumidor una sobrecarga, es importante que pensar ‘cuturally,’ especialmente en lo que respecta marketing de respuesta directa y la marca.”  It is not an easy task to translate words, feelings, or culture in marketing. Examples of English/Spanish translations that have gone wrong includethe wildly successful “Got Milk?” campaign. When used in Mexico, it attracted attention by asking “Are You Lactating?” The Coors beer slogan“Turn It Loose,” when converted directly into Spanish, directs consumers to “Suffer from Diarrhea.” (I think I’ll just have an orange juice, please.)

Parker Pen wanted its advertisements in Mexico to say, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Instead, the company mistook the verb “embarazar” to mean “embarrass,” and the adwound up reading, “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

Now that’s something to write home about. Frank Perdue’s line, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” is similarly risqué in Spanish: “It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate.” And back in the ’70s, the Braniff International Airways tagline, “Fly in Leather,” translated as“Fly Naked.”

Hispanic consumers in the United States present diversified culturalpatterns. How well the marketer enculturates its content for target consumers will have a direct effect on marketing success. An example? Dubbing an ad with the voice of someone who is obviously not Hispanic. McDonald’s carefully inserts “Me encanta” into its mostly English advertisements as a Spanish-language version of its tagline, “I’m lovin’ it,” to really appeal to the Hispanic consumer.

Another generic example would be to include the phrase “Your abuela’s cooking” in any DR cookware ad to acknowledge the grandmother as an important cultural influence for many Hispanics. The idea of enculturation lies in the company’s appreciating the nuances of culture and values to build credibility.

Values are just as important as reviews to Hispanic consumers. As Hispanic people assimilate into American culture, marketing KPIs become a moving target. Building a brand strategy must recognize major differences between Hispanic and Anglo culture. An example isthe focus on a larger sense of familyversus individuality; music and appearance also tend to rank high interms of cultural value, while conceptsof comfort, convenience, and expediency are more influential on the Anglo side.

Hispanics overindex for purchasing products and services through TV,digital, and radio channels. Alternatively, Hispanics underindex for print tactics. Hispanics are also three times more likely to place orders through an English-language site, even when viewing an advertising asset in Spanish. The Hispanic consumer also appreciates the ability to speak directly to someone when ordering.

Regarding authenticity and credibility, 75 percent of U.S. Hispanics speak Spanish only or are bilingual. Even English-dominant Hispanics show significant interest in Spanish-language radio and television, and are more likely than their Anglo counterparts to watch or listen to entertainment with friends and family. Hence, the market has higher response rates and brand loyalty to companies and brands that engage them with messages that are in-language and in-culture—40 percent more likely, according to Simmons Research. Digital opportunities are just as important. Google partnered with Ipsos MediaCT recently to study how language and culture influence brand consideration, trends in mobile habits, and variables that impact purchasing decisions among U.S Hispanics. Studying more than 4,500 U.S. Hispanics ages 18 to 64, the research uncovered compelling new insights and best practices for this audience, including the fact hat 76 percent of Hispanics access the internet on mobile devices.

It is imperative to keeping enculturation in mind while marketing in places the Hispanic consumer goes. Building a brand has everything to do with the consumer journey, and you can maximize reach in every channel from e-commerce to telesales if you respect the customer’s culture.

Special thanks to Craig Handley, CEO

and one of the founders of ListenTrust,

and Denira Borrero, principal and COO

of OmniDirect, for information included

in this article.