Which things are considered trends in 2020? Which colors to use? How to design a website? What kind of typography you should use? How to choose the right images? What will be the most important things in international marketing and selling? There are many lists out there. And most of them deliver the same message: Do this and that, and then you’re going to be relevant in 2020.

During the first weeks of a new year, the internet tends to be full of predictions for the next 12 months. New year, new opportunities, new trend listings. As our everyday life seems to constantly flow forward, a new year brings a chance to take a breath and think about the past and the future. Many people and companies have a habit of setting up goals for the new year. Trend listings give fresh ideas and help to set targets for one’s actions. To be honest, we were thinking of writing our own “localization trends in 2020” list as well. But during the research phase, we found out that such a list can’t be made. 

Localization Is Not A Trend

Localization is not a trendy topic in 2020. Like globalization, localization has transformed from hot topic to commonplace. That doesn’t mean that localization isn’t important. It’s the opposite. Nowadays, the majority of people spend their time in both the online and offline worlds. The online world makes it easy to buy and sell products and services around the world. Every company with any kind of online presence is more or less global. 

Not a single firm can afford to ignore the international purchase power. People search, share, like and find things online. The online world is very visual. Images are language free in the sense that people can see and interpret them quite universally. (Like this example of IKEA instructions show.) If you post a picture online and make it public, basically anyone can see it. And anyone can realize that they want to get what they see in that picture.

This has happened to many companies when potential customers have shown interest in them in place they haven’t targeted at all. The interest can be anything from a purchase to a visit on a webpage. (Learn how to find out if you have potential customers you didn’t know about.) It is crucial to notice if there are localization issues that prevent the interest from transforming into actual income. Thus going global isn’t an active decision anymore. Either you serve your potential customers or limit your full commercial potential. That’s your choice.

Localization Is Not Needed Just To Cross Borders Between Countries

The localization processes are the same as before. You find out who your target audience is and what they want. Then you localize your stuff following those findings. Localization concerns all types of content: from text to images, from colors to tones, from channels to pricing, and so on. 

Before, a company chose a country and localized to attract potential customers there. Today, the difference is that there are smaller groups to target. The internet has made the country borders irrelevant to businesses. All the options are available to anyone at any time. For example, why would you target only to Mexico or Chile when you could reach the whole Spanish speaking Latin America? 

More important than geographical location are the other relevant features of the target group. Their values and beliefs should guide your localization decisions. For example, not all Finns are the same, even though most Finns do speak and understand Finnish. The same message won’t work for everyone. Localization has never been about translating words. Today (and in the future as well) it’s very important to both define and study the target audience(s) more carefully.  

Localization Is Not Localization Anymore

The giant players in the online world (Facebook, Google, and others) keep showing us more and more targeted content. That is today’s localization. (Of course, they use language localization too.) I don’t know if localization is even the right term for all this, but the main function is the same. That is adopting and adjusting your messages and content to fit into the target groups’ desires. Those online services haven’t become as popular as they are by accident.

As a result of advanced targeting, people learn to skip or ignore too general messages by default. It is even possible, that the language itself isn’t an issue. There might be other more important aspects to localize before the language. People might understand your message but they can’t use your webshop or share content on their favorite social media. Then, the localization of payment methods or social network integrations are more crucial than the text. 

All this brings us back to the main questions of localization: Who is your target group? What do they do? Where do they spend their time? Why are they doing what they do? What do they need? What do they want?

Localization Needs To Be Well Made Both Now And In The Future

Instead of listing some forced trends, we can give you something more valuable. Here are some guidelines for the next and following years: Do localization, and do it well. Find your own goals and target groups. Let them guide your language and localization choices. Don’t underestimate your potential clients. They will notice if you aren’t giving your full attention. Show them that you care.

DID YOU KNOW?

42% of people never use a foreign language when they search or buy things on the Internet? 
Learn more reasons why localization is vital to your business.