Agencies able to provide quality content localization are now entering a period of remarkable profitability with pharma. Across a number of industries, the demand for localization is on the rise, with around 52% leader enterprises already planning to increase the share of their content internationalization budgets allocated to external content production and third-party translations. It is, by the way, remarkable that this trend is most marked in larger businesses, so it’s officially time to pursue major contracts!

Speaking strictly of pharma and life sciences, the need for localization appears to be driven by two principal tendencies. The first one is their interest in access to emerging markets. The total pharma revenue from these is expected to hit about 340 billion dollars by 2020, and 490 billion by 2025. Global companies are clearly aware of their competitive potential even in those regions they consider “new”. This competitiveness will be based largely on superior communication and marketing strategies, including content. At this point, their PMs’ previous experience plays a role – and 62% enterprises report better content performance after adaptation to local realities.

The second driving force is attention to customer experience, and particularly user experience with digital content. 2017 has seen a breakthrough in healthcare mobile apps, and an app’s market dominance relies heavily on how perfect its UI is. This is directly connected to things like language and esthetic preferences in a region. This philosophy of convenience is about to spread to other forms of digital content, including eDetailing presentations.

The result of these tendencies is predictable enough: the localization industry is now growing at the rate of 5.52%, generating 40 billion dollars annually, so in about 2 years we’ll be talking $45 billion. Now, this pool of opportunities will be open to many agencies, but Global Pharma, being a major player, will obviously show preference to some particular type. In fact, they are selecting their localization partners right now, based on several criteria.

To understand these criteria, think about what challenges pharmas are facing. Just translating to a particular language is no longer enough to cater to these customers, so what is?

What defines pharma content localization: the 3 things to understand

By now, localization has become a whole “package” of changes and modifications that content can undergo – including, but not limited to, translation. Since the complex nature of these processes at the global level is closely linked to the overall strategy, localization as a task is only successfully handled when you understand the broad picture from (at least) the managers’ point of view (ideally, the whole content supply chain). Here are the three points an agency should be aware of when localizing for global pharma.

1. Message first approach

Customers don’t want to localize words – this is just translation. They don’t even really want to localize content itself – they want to localize their message and the way it’s presented. If a rigorously precise translation happens to distort the brand identity and message – then the brand will not prefer this variant.

Now, of course, this type of thinking – localizing the intention, not the form – involves much more than just altering the text and images. This is why we are all increasingly speaking of “transcreation” as the next-level content adaptation tactic. This isn’t meant to replace localization as such, of course, but sometimes profound changes need to be made on local levels – in collaboration between agencies and local company departments.

2. Quality and consistency

Well, the fact that content quality is sought after is anything but surprising. With the sheer amount of content overloading the audience, a marketer will have to get not just creative but also provide actual value to whoever is watching. In this situation, the chances of mediocre assets at ever paying off are not even worth considering.

The question of quality involves two major aspects: the quality of text – and the overall design + user experience. In case with localization, text is obviously the first thing you’d give attention to; a good translation should sound professional enough and respect the regional conventions.

On the other hand, there is the UX. When all you do is translation, this doesn’t bother you; however, agencies can’t afford doing “just translations” anymore. In reality, the goal is not a collection of text abstracts; the goal is an informational product that engages the audience. And here is where localization starts interfering with the original structure of content. The simplest example of this is text that doesn’t fit anymore when translated – and accordingly, the layout should be altered. More complex cases include changing images, adding or removing functionalities, etc.

Of course, all of these are normally expected to be approved by the company. No one wants an agency make radical changes without telling first. This is why many pharma companies are now adopting different ways to communicate with agencies besides email or messaging. The whole working process is now getting wrapped into a single platform designed specifically to promote communication between localizers and everyone else (design, creative, approvers).

This de-silo-ing is especially important in maintaining consistent branding throughout the regions and channels. A lot has been said about how consistent key messages and imagery work in direct-to-customer sphere; in B2B, things are not much different. As many as 77% of B2B leaders say branding is crucial – which means even the smallest silos along the content supply chain are to be eradicated. Brutally. So here is one more reason pharmas now want to communicate with agencies via some work ambient that incorporates the (approved and tagged) branded assets.

3. Streamlined processes, multiple roles and multi-level supervision (a.k.a. centralized governance)

As pharmas are embracing the two tendencies we’ve just described, naturally, they have a lot to worry about. The main point of concern seems to be, as discussed above, maintaining a consistent strategy throughout regions in question. Localization is just a part of this wider picture, and life sciences companies want to be able to assume you – as an agency – are familiar with this wider picture.

Once they realize most agencies can’t be on the same page with the rest of the content supply chain unless given clear directions, they start centralizing the governance. Many of them are already past this realization: according to recent research, 72% of leading enterprises are exerting minute centralized control over the content production (localization), whereas 58% of the self-aware “mainstream” are following in this same direction.

Those who direct and supervise the processes go by different names depending on the organization – regional, product, brand managers, or more exotic-sounding names – but the agency is expected to become integrated into the general process and collaborate closely.

This would be nothing but bureaucracy if there wasn’t a common workspace for all parties involved into content creation. If you address the statistics, content internationalization strategies appear to be mostly about “central tech infrastructure”, with 60% most successful businesses giving this sort of investment a priority. So – agencies may start to expect working on a common platform with multilevel approvers and flexible communication around the content.

What it all means in practice

So you can provide quality localization and want to be compatible with pharma customers’ requirements. As we have seen, they want your service – localization – to be integrated into (read: intertwined with) their content supply processes, all the while their appointed responsibles are supervising the production. In brief, they want a common platform.

Should an agency try and guess what tech is used at the global level in all of their potential customers? Or rather, try and embrace your own system that is universally compatible, just waiting to be integrated?

The second variant is obviously the only one reasonable. Your digital platform should, accordingly, provide possibilities that fit the following criteria:

  • You are able to see the content the way your customers see it;
  • Able to communicate in-depth: preferably leave comments and notes attached to the content itself (as opposed to writing a separate message);
  • Multi-level, global corporate access to existing approved assets – in an agency’s case, platform compatibility with systems used by life sciences companies;
  • Security and different access levels;
  • Seamless integration that spares time.

You can make the first step towards becoming a habitual localization partner for global pharma right now – simply adopt the specific required methods of work. This, by the way, is also beneficial for your own organization’s working processes! To see how exactly localization could be done in this new setting, and obtain experience with a platform that satisfies all of the essential points described, start by checking this free demo.