How to grow your business in modern, multicultural Australia

language at home. We also know that China and India are in the top three countries of birth for people living in Australia, with over 1.2 million combined living here. Also in the top 10 countries of birth are Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Italy and South Africa.

So, what does that mean for retailers? It means authenticity, and intent. It means putting language at the heart of your business. Communicating authentically with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) customers should be at the top of the to-do list for all retail businesses. It also means not missing the opportunities that your customer base presents.

More than translation

Considering how to engage with your customers in modern multicultural Australia is crucial and this goes far beyond basic translation. Transcreation is a holistic approach from beginning to end of cultural inclusivity. Brands, marketers and retailers are paying big attention to not only the stats, but what they understand as an increasingly multicultural, multi-lingual Australia. They witness this in their businesses and in the media, and it is becoming a vital consideration as post-pandemic rules begin to relax around international visitors, students and migrant work forces.

Many large brands are cognisant of adapting their marketing for international customers, such as product labelling, product care, terms and conditions and technical information. Cotton On is one such company with an international market and an inclusive head office of multicultural staff.

Some companies are now also starting to integrate transcreation policies into their domestic strategies. Some big local retailers do this very well, such as Optus, with its comprehensive range of language services at all levels and its campaign ideation. It considers the spectrum of its market and localises campaigns to reach regions with high density CALD populations, such as areas that have a high percentage of Vietnamese, Greek, or Arabic native speakers.

For smaller brands and retailers, this process can appear complex and is often a last-minute afterthought, resulting in a quickly translated poster or information brochure. While it may be easy to advertise against the new SBS Worldwatch programming to reach a multicultural audience, this is not a set-and-forget execution. It is an integral strategy – from the product ideation to the end customer experience.

It’s about being customer first

Promoting your retail business to a multicultural audience has never been more important. It’s also never been more hazardous. It’s useful to deeply consider your intended outcome.

For authentic transcreation the strategy, core messaging and the audience are the lens through which all campaigns are created, at every level, and a business dedicated to the CALD client base will have this in mind from the first stages. This requires research, authenticity and intent, which is not just about the campaign, but the business philosophy.

Retrofitting translation to an existing campaign can help with language inclusivity, but can risk error or a cultural miscalculation that could cost your business. When translations are an afterthought, this is seen and felt by customers as inauthentic, and simply does not work in retail business, especially if you’re in it for the long game.

Businesses need to consider how they are communicating with CALD customers and make the effort to ensure that those communications are every bit as good, and authentic and informative, as their communications in English. 

Expanding and keeping a customer base is about trust and authentic communications. It may sometimes feel like translation is an extra cost you need to save, but the investment and intent in transcreation will bring returns in spades for businesses willing to embrace the culturally diverse reality of their growth and their customers.

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