Localisation as Strategy in AustraliaPosted: January 5, 2011
One of the unfortunate disadvantages of living in an isolated (yet otherwise wonderful) nation such as Australia is that occasionally concepts, businesses and products can take a little while to filter over from the US or Europe. Things like touch-and-go bus passes only recently arrived (in Brisbane at least), we still don’t have either Netflix or Hulu (although iTunes, Foxtel and Telstra are partially filling that gap) and wearing American Apparel over here will either make you really trendy or get no reaction at all (dependent on the current scene).
But with this isolation comes an advantage to locally savvy businesses and entrepreneurs who have an external focus to bring these ideas, products and businesses to their local markets. I don’t know how many BRW articles I’ve read showing some new startup which is doing something I’ve seen online in the states a couple of years back. If you’re lucky enough to travel regularly spotting an international trend, business model, idea, strategy or simply a product that hasn’t made it to your local market can be, in itself, a great strategy. Although large strategies like Virgin Blue are obvious translations, relatively innocuous things such as blogs can be successfully tweaked and localised in the form of Australianised (insert your local form here) content as has been seen here in Things Bogans Like which has been pretty successful if the reviews of the book I’ve spotted in GQ and the Australian are anything to go by, is pretty clearly influenced by Stuff White People Like, a US based blog, and marketing juggernaut, which makes fun of “white america” (which seems to translate to hipsters and suburbanites).
Although there are a million and one ways of localising I’ve built a table below that has a few examples that I’ve identified (this misses obvious ones such as simple products).
|Corporate Strategy||Virgin Blue copying the low-cost carrier form proven with Southwest Airlines
Big W taking the store concept from Walmart in the US (although not taking the small town component of the strategy)
|Business Model||Internet – Catch of the Day (catchoftheday.com.au) localising Woot! (www.woot.com)|
|Content Strategy||Localisation of TV shows (Biggest Loser etc.).
Localisation of publishing style – Chaser in Australia copying The Onion in the states (yes, shock horror, the chaser originated as a pretty lame localisation of a massively funny US comedy publisher).
Humor and/or websites (Things White People Like becomes Things Bogans Like)
Personally, I actually think the best example of a market that would respond well to this strategy is a westernised, yet slightly isolated nation such as Australia – it might translate to other cultures but I haven’t thought about that yet. As per usual, use your brain when localising, cultures and economies are not completely compatible.
I actually think this is a pretty interesting topic (particularly for Australia) and I’m sure there are way more examples of this and I’m going to set up a collaborative list when I figure out the best platform.