Global pharma companies seem to be in a position of advantage when it comes to entering emerging markets (now also dubbed “pharmerging countries”). Why, with bigger R&D possibilities, more advanced digital maturity stages and communication strategies, it seems fulfilling the mission of drug accessibility is as easy as pushing a button at the corporate HQ. At the same time, there are nuances to observe besides translating global content into target language – and at many organizations, the current processes of localizing content simply don’t allow to plug in the additional expertise. This leads to inefficiencies along the way, from internal constraints at local level to inexplicably lower-than-projected ROI. Here, we analyze the benefits of a well-thought content localization strategy – and localization management tools that can help.
Spending on medicines is growing unequally across the world. According to prognoses, the US share will increase from $485 bln in 2018 to $625 bln by 2023, while the pharmerging countries are expected to spend up to $385 bln, rising from the 2018 baseline of 286 – growing by almost 1/3. Now, these are pre-COVID estimates, but the pandemic has not removed the underlying factors (such as aging populations and consumer awareness) to a considerable extent everywhere. Some more recent research has found the emerging markets will yield CAGR of 10.4% in the half-decade from 2021-26.
At the same time, while COVID has not disrupted this growth, it has changed things a lot when it comes to actually penetrating these markets. Traditionally, the use of conventional (but costly) channels of communication like medical reps, has been low in many regions, or field force were insufficiently furnished with visual and other promotional aids. The push toward digital that occurred in Q2-Q3 2020 has given the potential to level the capacities here. Granted, global companies still have the advantage of more mature omnichannel engagement strategies – but simply importing them along with content would be a major mistake. Regional specifics are crucial to make these subtle customer journeys work properly.
Meanwhile, the established local markets are growing, too (somewhere in the middle by CAGR), but also much more saturated both with products and communication. Treating these like secondary to global markets by underlocalizing the communications is becoming unacceptable.
What is this ‘underlocalizing’, then?
While agencies collaborating with pharma have long emphasized that localization does not equal translation, adding the extra parts (like content transcreation, more sophisticated local campaigns) has been reserved to the more conscientious marketers within pharmas themselves. In many cases, operationally, “localization” was a term only applied to content – and content translation, while local affiliates were either copying the global directives, or ignoring the best practices from HQ to go on doing things in the way it had always worked on the spot.
Ideally, though, there is a difference between localizing content – and localizing entire strategies. In a particular country, content types and even entire channels preferred may differ from what is expected at HQ, socially acceptable touchpoint frequency may vary from culture to culture, etc.
What’s more, even when there is understanding of these two “localizations”, the strategic one invariably influences the content localized. Failing to establish a firm link between them results in squandering opportunities. This is the case of a company localizing wrong content, or a really energetic local manager with a genius strategy being bound to use only partly suitable (but shiny) materials. Establishing this link requires understanding of what content there is already plus the local specifics. In some cases, this leads decision makers to establish local content hubs (or appoint special local liaisons at their Content Factories).
No matter how proficient a translator is, there are things they simply cannot do with words to provide the native look and feel. Someone will have to dive into design and code to fully adapt these. So, what exactly is it that requires content to be transcreated, and not just translated?
All of this influences the efficiency of any localization strategy. Needless to say, no matter how developed a strategy can be in the marketer’s mind, the end implementation ultimately can be thwarted by something as simple as ineffective workflows and blown budgets. But how exactly to fix the issue?
In practice, whenever Viseven experts are approaching the localization issue (be it within a Digital Content Factory project or an omnichannel campaign scaled to multiple countries), there are two efficiency factors: internal and external. In the basic ROI equation, you can increase the return by either reducing the initial investment or making sure the net return figure is higher. The “internal” factor is the bottom of the equation, the initial allocation of costs, time, effort (we’re being multidimensional here). You can reduce this by eliminating the “waste” byproducts and processes in something like a Lean approach. This means providing more convenient virtual workplace, establishing better workflows, and so on.
On the other hand, the “external” factor in localization efficiency addresses the net return – that is, how much this localized strategy or content yields in the field. To raise this figure, one needs to go beyond localizing content to localizing strategy and tactics (that is why we talked about it earlier), as well as account for local realities.
So what would the recommended to-do list look like?
At the first glance, ensuring proper localization at all stages may seem a daunting task – but ensuring efficiency with several pinpointed tactics will result in less troubles than continuing to work in the conventional ways. To make this transformation as easy as possible, we at Viseven have supplied the necessary functionalities inside eWizard content authoring platform. This allows us to provide localization services for our customers much more efficiently than before – and also helps many companies to streamline localization themselves. Learn more about how this works and book a free demo, where you can also ask our expert about other available options to facilitate localization.