Increasing Worldwide Recognition of U.S. Retail Holidays – An Opportunity for U.S. Marketers


Judd MarcelloBy Judd Marcello, Vice President Marketing, Smartling 

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for retail marketers. They finally get to witness the results of months and months of planning, and all of their hard work appears to be paying off. Black Friday online sales set a new record this year with consumer spending of $2.74 billion. And analyst forecasts were shattered on Cyber Monday when online shoppers spent $3.07 billion, with a quarter of the sales coming from mobile devices.

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday may eventually fade away due to the omnipresence of the Internet, for the time being, both holidays still remain popular with shoppers. And this holds true not only here in the U.S., but increasingly abroad as well. The U.K., Brazil and China, to name a few, have all caught the American holiday sales bug.

In the U.K., Black Friday is now “firmly established as part of the British retail calendar.” The same can be said of Cyber Monday, as British shoppers spent hundreds of millions of pounds this year. In total, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, U.K. consumers spent 3.3 billion pounds ($4.93 billion), according to Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) and Experian data.

One of the beneficiaries of this overseas sprawl is U.S.-based Amazon, which, on Black Friday, sold more than six million items through its British division, beating its 2014 sales of more than 5.5 million items.

In Brazil, it’s estimated that approximately 23.3 percent of consumers made some type of purchase online during Black Friday – an increase of more than 17 percent from 2014.

Most notably Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in China were robust.

The South China Morning Post notes that sales of products purchased on overseas websites using Alipay (a division of Alibaba) increased 15-fold from last year between November 27 and November 30.  Millions of Chinese consumers made purchases from American retailers on Black Friday, including Macy’ – so much so that the volume of activity crashed the company’s website for an hour that day. As one person noted in a recent South China Morning Post article, there was a “huge increase in numbers spending during Black Friday shopping promotion in China,” and Black Friday has demonstrated that “consumption globalization has permeated into the daily life of Chinese people.”

With the growing international activity on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, U.S. retailers have a tremendous opportunity to reach more customers around the world and boost global growth. But, to capture the attention of a global audience and take advantage of limitless international business opportunities, they must prioritize their global content strategy and deliver native brand experiences by adding a line item budget for translation, localization (adding cultural nuances) and transcreation (creating entirely new content for the right cultural fit). And recent research has shown that not many organizations are doing this. Smartling’s own research taken at INBOUND 2015 found that out of 150 marketers surveyed, approximately half weren’t allocating any budget whatsoever for multilingual content translation.

Reaching global retail customers with localized content and native brand experiences that demonstrate a command of local dialects and regional preferences, and a respect for cultural sensitivities in all markets at all times takes more effort, more care and more resources. But by delivering messages, content and experiences that resonate in any language, all cultures and every market, retailers have a significant opportunity to create an entirely new set of customers and achieve a more dominant global position.

About the Author: Judd Marcello is the vice president of marketing at Smartling, a New York-based translation management platform company. 

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