Localization: The key factor Ghanaian businesses ignore when seeking global expansion

The world has transitioned from an age of delusion to the age of information and simulations. This means you can predict an outcome of an event by modelling available data on a subject even before the event happens. What are we driving at? 

It is not far-fetched to notice that most Ghanian businesses do not do well outside the country. Which Ghanaian business has gone global? Very difficult to pinpoint right? However, big corporations have been using a simple strategy. For instance, the Coca-Cola Company is in almost every corner of the world. Do you know why these foreign companies do better than most indigenous Ghanaian companies even on African soil?

Nelson Mandela once said If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart. The simple strategy of a business’ success is understanding the market. To understand the market is to move a step beyond the traditional market research and adopt localization strategies.

In our Ghana Localization Guide, we explain localization as the process of adapting one’s product or services to the language, culture and dynamics of a particular setting. This encompasses translation and cultural adaptation of materials such as software, websites and books, audio, video, or other multimedia

Ghana for instance is a multilingual country with over 100 ethnic groups. The major ethnic groups in Ghana are the Akan 47.5%, Mole-Dagbon 16.6%, Ewe 13.9%, Ga-Dangme 7.4%, Gurma 5.7%, Guan 3.7%, Grusi 2.5%, Mande 1.1%, other 1.4%. In addition, the available languages when dialling the helplines of most telecommunications companies are Twi, Dagbani, Ga, English, and Hausa. 

Successful multinational corporations doing business in Ghana take into account dominant local languages and cultural nuances when offering customer services. This is a major factor most Ghanaian-own businesses ignore when seeking expansion to enter into a new market. Our interactions and engagements with many entrepreneurs prove that they have little to no understanding of localization. 

When BBC wanted to tap into the Nigerian (African) market, it adopted a localization technique through BBC Pidgin. This demonstrates that to successfully carry out a promotional advertisement as a company, you need to localize your products and services to be able to penetrate the market of a particular setting. Such localization could even entail changing the terms used to describe a product. An example is the term ’pants’ in Ghana which is generally used to refer to underwear. In the USA however, pants mostly refer to trousers. Imagine your company produces trousers and your advertising slogan in Ghana is, “pants for sale at 50% discount.” Most Ghanaians will understand it as underwear for sale at a 50% discount. With this slogan, the company will miss the targeted customers.

Sociocultural factors and language could play a huge role in determining the success of a business or organisation in a particular setting. However, much emphasis is usually not placed on these by Ghanaian businesses seeking growth. To truly understand the nuances in localizing a product, service or content to reach the target audience and to engage the services of leading African localization experts, check Localization Africa.