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A Guide to Doing Business in Japan

A Guide to Doing Business in Japan

Caitlin Nicholson

Japan is an island nation located in East Asia with a population of 127 million, eleventh largest in the world. Japan boasts the world’s third largest economy behind the United States and China. They are also the fourth-largest buyer of American products. These factors make Japan an attractive market for companies looking for a new audience for goods and services. Whether you’re looking to partner with an existing business in Japan or simply looking to reach Japanese customers using a website here are few important considerations for targeting a Japanese Audience.

Languages Japanese society is very homogenous – both linguistically and culturally. Nearly 98 percent of the population is ethnic Japanese and speak Japanese as their first language. The Tokyo dialect is considered Standard Japanese. For most businesses looking to attract Japan-based customers the first language for translating content should be Japanese. Japanese has no genetic relationship with Chinese, though it incorporates Chinese characters (kanji) in its writing system along with hiragana, katakana, and Latin script for loanwords. Japanese has different levels of politeness and formality depending on who you are speaking to. Informal or casual speech is only used for family and close friends, while formal or polite speech is used everywhere else, especially in business. Japanese language has many honorifics. These are parts of speech that show respect, show social distance, or rank. Honorifics are also very important in a business setting. If you are looking to do business in Japan or with Japanese companies, it is recommended to provide training in the use of honorifics.   Currency Yen is the official currency of Japan. It is the third most traded currency in the exchange market after the United States dollar and the Euro. If you are looking to fully localize your website’s global eCommerce experience, then you will need to convert currency to Japanese Yen. Currency will need to be converted properly. There are no decimal places, so ¥500 is correct, while ¥500.00 is incorrect. Credit cards are the most popular method of payment for eCommerce, but Japan is also a cash-based society. Many Japanese consumers prefer to pay in cash. As a result, a lot of eCommerce companies such as Amazon use convenience store cash payments and deliveries.   Where are Consumers Spending their Money? In 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in Japan, following the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown. His goal has been to stimulate a stagnant Japanese economy through policies known as ABENOMICS. Japanese millennials are very similar to those in the United States – thrifty and reluctant to overspend. Japan Today called them “internet savvy bargain hunters.” Therefore, they are not as into purchasing luxury brands. It is important to adjust your prices accordingly to appeal to these frugal customers. Also, Japanese millennials are very tech savvy meaning that you should have a localized, mobile online presence. Overall, Japan is a highly connected population, with 94 percent of their total population online. They rank sixth in the world in terms of Internet users. Therefore, a website that embraces Japanese language and culture (color choices, image choices, etc.) will appeal to Japanese consumers. Such initiatives will allow you to effectively reach 118 million Internet users. Japan is the second largest online advertising market in the world, according to research from Santander. Using mediums such as SMS advertising and email marketing can prove very effective, as opposed to radio advertisements or more costly mediums such as television. When advertising to Japanese consumers, make sure that you provide content to them in Japanese so they best understand your message. Also, follow guidelines and regulations set forth by the Japan Advertising Council and the Japan Advertising Agencies Association. According to the Statistics Bureau of Japan, Japanese society is aging very rapidly. Therefore, industries that present strong business opportunities include medical device and equipment, pharmaceutical, healthcare, robotics, safety, education, and travel and leisure.   Business Culture Japanese business culture is more formal than in the United States. For business meetings, dress conservatively. During meetings, never point or use excessive hand gestures. Also – silence is okay in a business meeting. Do not feel uncomfortable if there are extended periods of silence. Japan is a collectivist culture – not individualist as in the West. Strength lies in the group, not the individual. As mentioned in the language section above, Japanese has levels of formality. Knowing this is very important for business transactions. Seniority is usually determined by age. When greeting a group in a meeting, greet the most senior person first and then work your way down. Business cards are very important in Japanese business culture. When doing business with a Japanese company, have your business card translated to Japanese on one side and the source language on the other. The custom of presenting business cards is known as meishi koukan (名刺交換). The exchange of business cards signals the beginning of a business relationship. A business card is an extension of identity. You should accept the business card with both hands, read it, and place it in your business card holder. You should present your business card with two hands and the Japanese side facing up. If you’re looking to do more business in Japan, the first step is to present your content in their language with respect to their values and needs. For more help in connecting with the Japanese market, get in touch with LinguaLinx.

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A Guide to Doing Business in Germany

A Guide to Doing Business in Germany

Caitlin Nicholson

Germany is a member of the European Union (EU) and boasts Europe’s largest economy and second largest population. Right now, they have the fourth largest economy in the world. Germany’s main export partners are France, the United Kingdom and the United States. The German labor force is highly skilled. They are a leading exporter of vehicles, machinery, chemicals, and household equipment. All of these factors make Germany an attractive market for companies looking for a new audience for goods and services. But whether you’re looking to partner with an existing business in Germany or simply looking to reach German customers using a website here are few important considerations for understanding and targeting a German audience.

Languages German is the official language of Germany, spoken by 95 percent of the country. Most Germans learn English as a foreign language in schools. Due to Germany’s membership in the EU, German is one of the 21 official languages. For most businesses looking to attract German -based customers the first language for translating content should be German. German is a Germanic language, like English. Therefore, a lot of English and German words are pronounced similarly. German language is known for their long compound words. Rather than invent a new word for a concept, the language takes a description of the concept and turns it into one word. Keep this in mind when creating brochures and marketing collateral for a German-based audience. You will need to leave a lot of white space to allow for text expansion during translation. This may also be a factor for software localization, mobile app localization, or website localization. A tightly-designed user interface (UI) may present problems down the road. Design a flexible UI that can expand or contract.   Currency Germany is a member of the European Union. Therefore, the currency of Germany has been the Euro since 2002. In 2017, exchange rate from the United States Dollar to the Euro has averaged about 1 EUR – 1.125 USD. The Euro is the second most traded currency in the exchange market after the US Dollar. If you are looking to fully localize your website’s global eCommerce experience, then you will need to convert currency to Euros. Currency will need to be converted properly. German language uses commas in place of decimal points. German consumers prefer to pay in cash, according to research from eMarketer. Therefore, many consumers still use open invoice transactions. However, digital payment sites such as PayPal have gained traction along with traditional methods such as credit cards.   Where are Consumers Spending their Money? German consumers are swayed by price and quality, according to research from Santander. Price is important for everyday goods. Germans shop around frequently, comparing prices and looking for the best deals. They place safety and quality very high for consumer durables and professional capital goods. Evaluate your products and where they fall in line with the German consumer profile. Overall, Germany is a highly connected population, with over 80 percent of their total population online. They rank ninth in the world in terms of Internet users. Therefore, a website that embraces German language and culture (color choices, image choices, etc.) will appeal to German consumers. Such initiatives will allow you to effectively reach 65 million Internet users. German consumers tend to purchase via catalog. Therefore, translating your catalog into German could lead to more purchases. When compared to the rest of larger markets in Europe, German consumers are historically less trusting of eCommerce and digital purchases. This trend seems to be shifting. In 2017, according to eMarketer, eCommerce will rise over $7 billion in Germany. This is a small fraction of total retail sales, meaning there is a lot of growth potential. When marketing to a German audience, avoid creating campaigns that can over exaggerate the benefits or abilities of a product or service. Hyperbole will not help build trust for your brand in Germany. In addition, pay close attention to your use of comparative advertising. Such a practice cannot be misleading or falsified. For example, “our product is the best at ________,” or “our product is better than ________’s product.” For guidance, take a look at the European Union’s Directive on Misleading and Comparative Advertising.   Business Culture German business culture is characterized by a few major attributes – direct, ordered, precise, structured, and thorough. Remember these qualities as you look to do business in Germany. Hierarchy is important in Germany. Everyone has a role in a hierarchy and you should address people using their titles unless you are told otherwise. Dress is conservative for both men and women. Personal life is not brought up in business. Besides a firm handshake at the beginning and end of every meeting, Germans value personal space. When scheduling a meeting plan ahead, and make sure you are on time. Being late to a meeting makes a terrible first impression. At the meeting itself, know that Germans are direct. Present facts if you are the presenter, and be prepared for facts and charts if you are the being presented to. If you’re looking to do more business in Germany, the first step is to present your content in their language with respect to their values and needs. For more help in connecting with the German market, get in touch with LinguaLinx.

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A Guide to Doing Business in Brazil

A Guide to Doing Business in Brazil

Caitlin Nicholson

Brazil is a country known for its diverse and colorful culture. Brazil is South America’s largest country in both total area and population. They are the world’s fifth largest country in terms of population and seventh largest in terms of economy. Whether you’re looking to partner with an existing business in Brazil or simply looking to reach Brazilian customers using a website here are few important considerations for targeting a Brazilian audience.

Languages Brazilian Portuguese is spoken by nearly all of Brazil’s 211 million people, and it is their official language. The language is used in newspapers, radio, television, business, and government. Many Brazilians view Portuguese language as a part of their national identity since they are the only Portuguese-speaking nation in North and South America. Most of the world’s Portuguese speakers speak Brazilian Portuguese. The language differs from European Portuguese regarding vocabulary choices and pronouns, similar to American English vs. British English. The Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement was signed in 1990. The goal of the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries (CPLP) was to standardize Portuguese language across all Portuguese-speaking countries. This affected spelling of 1.65 percent of Portuguese words. For most businesses looking to attract Brazil-based customers the first language for translating content should be Brazilian Portuguese. Many Brazilians may understand Spanish since it is a Romance language, but this is not the same as translating their content. Also, localizing your digital and printed collateral goes a long way in reaching a Brazilian audience.   Currency Brazil’s official currency is known as the Brazilian Real. It ranks nineteenth in the world in traded value. If you are looking to fully localize your website’s global eCommerce experience, then you will need to convert currency to Brazilian Real. Currency will need to be converted properly. In Brazil, they use commas instead of periods as decimal points, and periods instead of commas. For example $1,500.34 (USD) would be written as $1.500,34 (BRL). A majority of Brazilians use credit cards to shop online. It is important to note that a lot of Brazilian credit cards are restricted from cross-border transactions. (They are issued domestically and can only be used in Brazil.) Therefore, one should find a local partner in Brazil to assist with processing orders. Other payment methods can also be considered. One is Boleto [Bancário]. This is regulated by the Brazilian Federation of Banks (FEBRABAN). Customers order online and receive a pre-filled bank slip. This allows payments to be paid at ATMS, branches, banks, lottery agencies, post offices and supermarkets in Brazil. Many online stores in Brazil also offer payment in installments as this is common payment practice. A business would work with an installment service in Brazil to set this up. The business would select preset installment intervals for the customer to choose from. These options would be available at checkout. Businesses should adjust their prices of goods and services accordingly if offering installments to cover any added costs.   Where are Consumers Spending their Money? Before 2012, Brazil’s economy was one of the fastest growing in the world. Their middle class reached about 115 million people (over half of the population). However, the growth rate slowed and Brazil entered a recession in 2014. The start of 2017 has brought about economic recovery and an end to the recession. According to McKinsey & Company’s profile “Meet the New Brazilian Consumer,” they discuss post-recession Brazil and the attitudes of their consumers. Brazilian consumers are now consistently looking for ways to spend less and save money. According to research from Santander, Brazilians still perceive foreign products and brands as a sign of wealth. They remain loyal to brands, but now shop these brands for the lowest price at different locations. Also, a lot of Brazilians are trading down but are still splurging on alcoholic beverages and personal care products. Evaluate your price points and present your products as a great value for the amount of money. Overall, Brazil is a highly connected population, with over 140 million users. This is the largest internet market in Latin America and fourth largest in the world. Therefore, a website that embraces Brazilian language and culture (color choices, image choices, etc.) will appeal to Brazilian consumers. Brazilians use desktop computers to make about 68 percent of their purchases, according to eMarketer. Mobile only accounted for one third of all eCommerce traffic.   Business Culture In Brazil, personal relationships are very important parts of business culture. They prefer face-to-face meetings over written communication. Meetings should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. Establish a relationship first, and then business will take place. Often, at dinner meetings, conversation starts as informal before moving to business. Topics to avoid include politics or any controversial current events facing Brazil. When presenting business cards, have one of the sides translated to Brazilian Portuguese, and present your card with the Portuguese side facing up and toward the recipient. If you’re looking to do more business in Brazil, the first step is to present your content in their language with respect to their values and needs. For more help in connecting with the Brazilian market, get in touch with LinguaLinx.

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A Guide to Doing Business in China

A Guide to Doing Business in China

Caitlin Nicholson

With a population of 1.4 billion people China is the largest county in the world with the second-largest economy. With all of these prospective consumers China can be an attractive market for many companies looking to find a new audience for goods and services. But whether you’re looking to partner with an existing business in China or simply looking to reach Chinese customers using a website here are few important considerations for targeting a Chinese Audience.

Languages There are nearly 300 languages spoken in China but Mandarin is the most common, spoken by 70% of the population. Other popular languages include Yue, Wu, Min, Xiang, Gan and Hakka. For most businesses looking to attract China-based customers the first language for translating content will likely be Mandarin. Note, Mandarin Chinese is a spoken dialect. When doing business with China, it is recommended that you translate your written content into Simplified Chinese. There are many significant differences between the English and Mandarin languages, certain that can be particularly relevant when it comes to translating a marketing message. Sentence structure, for example, is very different between these two languages. The Mandarin language does not use verb tenses that convey past, present or future. Intonation also plays a much larger role in determining meaning and the English language also involves phrasal verbs like “take on” or “look up to” that Chinese languages do not. This can represent a need for a significant update of your digital and printed collateral. From brochures, to business cards even PPC Ad Copy and web page meta descriptions may be affected by these differences.   Currency The official name of Chinese currency is “Renminbi” (abbreviated RMB) which means the “the people’s currency.” An individual unit of this currency is known as the yuan. While the dollars to yuan fluctuates, between 2013 and 2017 the equivalent of one American dollar has ranged between 6 and 7 yuan. When selling to Chinese customers online in particular, it’s important to convert prices from dollars to Yuan to appeal directly to these shoppers. China is the world’s largest eCommerce market, and they are also a world leader in mobile payments. As of May 2017, Alipay (a product of Alibaba – a Chinese eCommerce company) was the market leader. Other mobile payment giants include China UnionPay and Tencent. Tencent is the creator of WeChat. WeChat Pay is an in-app payment feature that allows customers to easily pay using their mobile phones. In 2016, WeChat Pay was opened up to overseas vendors. QR codes are big in China and can be found alongside nearly every cash register.   Where are Consumers Spending their Money? With the Chinese economy is still largely dependent on government expenditures, there is a growing influence of consumer spending. While traditionally conservative spending and an emphasis on savings has been an important aspect of a consumer behavior, there is a growing trend among young consumers in particular that result in more individual spending on goods and services. A study by Morgan Stanley suggests that like with many other countries, the influence of high tech products, namely smartphones will drive China’s consumption particularly as it applies to eCommerce and online shopping. A decrease in the unemployment rate has allowed for more disposable income among the growing middle class in China. This increasingly tech-savvy group will likely have greater means and interest in spending more on luxury purchases like travel, entertainment and retail. The changes in the Chinese business landscape also provide opportunities for b2b services. B2B International notes that marketing plays a different role in Chinese companies than it does for many American enterprises. US based companies often have large marketing budgets or departments while in a Chinese business, marketing as we understand it is often considered a job for sales people. However, with over 400 million internet users, websites are still important components of reaching Chinese businesses. A website that embraces Chinese language and culture but incorporates Western aesthetics will likely appeal to this group. Social media participation is also quite common among Chinese individuals, but with no access to Facebook and Twitter, other platforms like LinkedIn have more prominence in China.   Business Culture In spite of the growing use of technology, Chinese business people still place an enormous emphasis on relationships and personal connections. There is a great deal of value in what they call “Guanxi” or a person’s network of relationships. This puts an important emphasis on one-to-one communication and may require a change in typical web based user pathways that involve a direct connection sooner or more frequent interpersonal touch points, as often deals are best closed in face-to-face engagements. In personal meetings there are other cultural considerations. For example, a team should enter and be introduced in their order of seniority. Additionally, business cards are treated with much more reverence, a business card should be presented and received with both hands and never shoved in a pocket. If you’re looking to do more business in China, the first step is to present your content in their language with respect to their values and needs. For more help in connecting with the Chinese market, get in touch with Lingualinx.

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A Guide to Doing Business in India

A Guide to Doing Business in India

Caitlin Nicholson

India is the second-most populous country in the world with over 1.2 billion people. Once a British colony, India has emerged as the world’s largest democracy and an emerging market. Whether you’re looking to partner with an existing business in India or simply looking to reach Indian customers using a website here are few important considerations for targeting an Indian Audience.

Languages The Indian subcontinent is home to great linguistic diversity. The People’s Linguistic Survey of India found over 780 languages spoken in India with about 122 of them spoken by over 10,000 people. The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists and recognizes 22 languages. Hindi and English are the languages used by India’s Central Government. Hindi is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world and the most widely spoken in India. English in India uses English (UK) spelling due to their roots with colonization. It is mostly used by Indians as a second or third language. India is divided into twenty-nine states and seven union territories. Each state can choose which language they want for their official language. North-central India is known as the Hindi Belt. Hindi is the official language and the majority language in these states. Other prominent languages spoken in India include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamli, Telugu, and Urdu. If you are looking to market to a particular region in India, make note of what language is spoken there and localize accordingly. The same applies for business meetings – use local interpreters and linguists to translate written content.   Currency India’s official currency is the Indian rupee (₹). In November 2016, India’s government launched a demonetization of about 86 percent of their currency to cut down on counterfeit currency and black market cash. Before this, India was largely a cash-based society with about 45 percent of online payments made in Cash on Delivery (COD) before November 2016. This has brought about a growth in digital payment apps and debit card usage.   Where are Consumers Spending their Money? India’s population is very young, with about 65 percent of the population born after 1980. In 2016, Goldman Sachs profiled India’s consumers. They identified seven key consumption patterns: looking better, eating better, better home, mobility/connectivity, having more fun, well-being (health/education), and luxury. The largest population group that will contribute to India’s growth will be the Urban Mass. This group is expected to expand in both population and income. The Urban Mass includes the educated Urban Mass (those with undergraduate degrees in white collar positions) along with blue collar workers living in urban centers. India has three of the world’s top ten megacities – Delhi, Mumbai, and Calcutta. In 2016, only about one-fifth of India’s population was online, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Digital India initiative. The goal is to connect India with high speed Internet, deliver government services digitally, and promote digital literacy. This presents an area of tremendous growth for mobile connectivity and eCommerce as India becomes more connected.   Business Culture Not only is India a linguistically diverse country, but a culturally diverse one as well. Religion plays a large role in Indian society. Hinduism is practiced by about 80 percent of the population. Hinduism plays an important role in Indian culture. During major holiday and festivals such as Holi in the spring and Diwali in the fall, business shuts down. Both Buddhism and Jainism also originated in India. Business culture in India stems from British colonial roots. Culture is very formal and dress is very conservative. Also, titles (Dr., Mr., Mrs., etc.) are very important. Address someone by their title and surname unless they tell you otherwise. Hierarchy is important as well. Always greet senior people first, and greet each person individually. Handshakes are typically a standard greeting for business meetings, however men and women shaking hands is not always the norm. If you’re looking to do more business in India, the first step is to present your content in their language with respect to their values and needs. For more help in connecting with the Indian market, get in touch with Lingualinx.

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A Guide to Doing Business in Mexico

A Guide to Doing Business in Mexico

Caitlin Nicholson

Mexico is a country with great culture and history. In fact, Mexico ranks first in the Americas in the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Key industries in Mexico include automotive, crude oil, energy, mining, agriculture, livestock and tourism. In fact, Mexico is one of the most-visited countries in the world. Whether you’re looking to partner with an existing business in Mexico or simply looking to reach Mexican customers using a website here are few important considerations for targeting a Mexican Audience.

Languages Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world with over 114 million native speakers (over 92 percent of the total population). There are over six million speakers of indigenous languages there as well. Like the United States, Mexico does not have a de jure official language. However, Spanish is the dominant language and is used in legislation. For most businesses looking to attract Mexico-based customers the first language for translating content should be Spanish. Spanish as a whole is a very regional language. Regional differences in vocabulary are present in all variants of Spanish. When translating content, particularly marketing content, be careful of using colloquial expressions. What is appropriate for Spanish speakers in Spain may not be appropriate for Spanish speakers in Mexico. Mexican Spanish has also been influenced by Nahuatl and Mixtec languages, particularly with place names. Nahuatl words such as avocado and coyote have even made their way into English.   Currency Mexico’s currency is the Mexican peso. It is the most-traded currency from Latin America and third in the Americas after the US Dollar and the Canadian dollar. Historically, from 2004-2015, the value of the peso was 11.3 -14.45 per 1 US dollar, according to Ernst & Young. If you are looking to fully localize your website’s global eCommerce experience, then you will need to convert currency to Pesos. Currency will need to be converted properly. The peso uses the symbol $. Like the United States, Mexico uses the “.” as a decimal mark and a comma as a separator. This tends to be the pattern for Spanish-speaking countries in Central America, which is reversed in most of South America.   Where are Consumers Spending their Money? Mexico’s middle class comprises about 45% of their population, a number that continues to grow. Over three quarters of the population live in urban areas. Major urban centers include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Tijuana, and Ciudad Juarez. As the population becomes wealthier, so with the growth of consumer purchasing power. Mexico is currently Latin America’s second largest eCommerce market. Their growth is predicted to increase with a large population under 30, lower costs for smartphones, greater smart phone usage, and increased broadband and internet penetration. Advertisements in Mexico must be presented in Spanish, but you can also include expressions in other languages. There is no text message (SMS) marketing in Mexico due to a lack of data infrastructure, and email marketing is not very effective, according to research from Santander.   Business Culture Mexicans value personal relationships. Family is the most important institution. It is important to secure friendships with the businesspeople you wish to work with. Mexicans are very sociable and warm, so expect at least a handshake. They also have a closer concept of personal space. Be sure to address someone by their professional title and surname. Only use the first name when invited to do so. The biggest meal of the day in Mexico is lunch, served between 2 pm and 4 pm. Expect any business lunches to last for about two to three hours. Lunch is a time to help establish and further business and personal relationships. Dinner is served much later, around 8 pm or 9 pm. Normal business hours are 9 am to 7 pm. Eye contact is not valued like it is in the United States. Too much direct eye contact can be seen as too aggressive for a man and flirtatious for a woman. For more help in connecting with the Mexican market, get in touch with Lingualinx.

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