3 examples of successful cross-cultural marketing

3 examples of successful cross-cultural marketing

Sex, cheese and high-speed trains.

In cross-cultural marketing the key to success is not always about translation. (And the critics can be wrong and the public right).

Did you know that an English « erotic » trilogy book that sold 65 million copies in 46 countries struggled to grab French readers’ attention when launched at the end of 2012?

It sold well in other Western European countries but received bad press in France: «…flavourless, full of insignificance, a thin plot and repetitive writing, poorly written, as sexy as a frozen microwave-meal for one… ».

Three months after the launch it is difficult to find up-to-date figures. But the first and second volumes of this piece of fiction written in English and published in the US are in the top 10 sales in France in the French version (printed and digital). And controversy is going on.

Reading behaviour is diverse and it’s unclear whether the books purchased are read. Nobody knows. According to American historians France is a “literary country”. French TV programmes are said to have a strong and direct influence on the publishing market.
What does it mean when bad press leads to good sales? Do you think people vote with their feet?

The second example of successful cross-cultural marketing is about food, a great topic when trying to understand British and French culture. Many clichés prevent us from understanding how quickly habits and tastes change on both sides of the Channel.

In 2012 some articles appeared about the rise of Cheddar in France, with sales up steadily 5% year on year. A famous British Cheddar brand that entered the French market five years ago sells about a quarter of a million packets every year.

Another brand (UK’s largest independent cheese producer and milk processor) is now stocked in big French supermarkets. You can find recipes with Cheddar on many French websites. And Cheddar is even recommended for pregnancy diets. Yes.

For a long time France has been presented as a food paradise and a cheese temple, where everybody cooks, buys healthy products and eats as much as they want without putting on weight. It’s not the reality.

Why does it work for Cheddar in France? As a mature cheese it appeals to French people used to stronger cheeses. It’s versatile. And artisan cheddars are delicious.
The answer may be simple: people can spot good stuff (wherever it comes from) with the help of honest PR and marketing.

The third example is Eurostar. Not only their trains link two fabulous capital cities but they know how to use clichés. They play on words and create sharp messages in both languages. In the first quarter of 2012 more than 2 million people used Eurostar, an increase of 4%. The traffic is said to be stable for business and up for tourism (and the Olympics reinforced the trend).

Since 1994 Eurostar sells London to the French. And France and Europe to the Brits. The service is the same on each side of the Channel. Customers are separated by language, currency, cultural references and time zone.

Eurostar advertising campaigns target British and French people with bespoke photos and offers. They localize messages on their websites and in the traveller magazine “Metropolitan”.

The brand is active on social media: three Twitter accounts in English and one Facebook account in French. As a cross-cultural company Eurostar is used to sell to different groups of customers and different cultures.

Each client’s journey is different and difficult to predict: be ready and get found by French people: some of them may well look online for your product.

Related post
Cross-cultural marketing: “We try and make the content as country specific as possible.”




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