One of the best ways to increase your sales before the year comes to a close is by tapping into a season-specific market. In other words, tailor your listings for the Christmas season. This advice doesn’t just apply to seasonal products, either; you can make subtle changes in your listings to provide a festive feel, to encourage customers to buy your product – at a discount, because of a promotion, or as a gift. This is where your marketing strategy could use a touch of translation and localization, because it’s not enough to put “Merry Christmas” run through machine translation in all your listings. It takes a lot more finesse than that. In this blog, we explore localization for the holiday season.
We go through the importance of a season-specific localization strategy, focused on Christmastime – so, no matter where in the world you may sell, you speak to your international customers in the language that they’re familiar with, in order to boost your sales. Different folks, different strokes, as the saying goes; an effective holiday global marketing strategy involves professional localization so you communicate joy and cheer the right way – in all the languages your listings are localized for.
The good news is, this holiday season is looking quite promising. According to CNBC, last Black Friday and Cyber Monday did incredibly: according to data from Adobe Analytics released on the Tuesday following Cyber Monday, U.S. consumers set a new record by spending $12.4 billion on Cyber Monday, marking a 9.6% increase from the previous year and exceeding initial forecasts of $12 billion in sales. Furthermore, online sales throughout Cyber Week, the period spanning from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, totaled $38 billion, surpassing Adobe’s estimate of $37.2 billion. These were purportedly the largest sales in the company’s 29-year history! The National Retail Federation expects an increase of 7% to 9% in consumer spending this 2023 – up $255.8 billion from last year.
In other words, the holiday season is yours to own – across all countries, not just the USA. Because guess what – Christmas is celebrated and observed in different ways across the globe. If you intend to boost your eCommerce sales in your MENA (Middle East and North Africa) listings as well as your Germany-based store, then it helps to understand the cultural nuances across the disparate cultures, and fine tune your localization process for the holidays! Read on for more!
Speaking of MENA, have you explored it yet? Check out our blog on the Middle East marketplaces for the Amazon Seller!
Optimize Your Listings for Context Across Cultures
Understanding Diverse Christmas Traditions
Christmas is celebrated worldwide, but not uniformly. Recognizing and respecting these cultural differences is critical in creating a translation that resonates with your target audience.
In Japan, for instance, Christmas Eve is seen as a romantic day, akin to Valentine’s Day. Sure, Christmas is celebrated in Japan, but it’s considered a secular celebration for couples; families get together on the New Year’s holiday instead. Lovers might have dinner at a special restaurant, or go on a walk to view the Christmas lights. Friends might get together and throw a party. In fact, Christmas Eve is the Japanese version of Valentine’s Day, so don’t be caught alone in public! Here’s a fun fact: an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families buy their holiday meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken – where the demand is so huge that families place their orders in advance. Talk about effective F&B localization; the first-ever country manager, Takeshi Okawara, dreamt of a “party bucket” that would be sold on Christmas. The rest is finger-lickin’ history! Also, if you’re selling Christmas globes on Amazon, think about the types that resonate with the Japanese customer the best. According to Yume Twins, Japanese like wooden, vintage-style ornaments, and carry Japanese motifs like Mt. Fuji, cherry blossom trees, and sushi. The more “kawaii” the decor is, the better!
Across the pond, and just for the sake of contrast, Mexico is a different situation altogether. Christmas parties, called “Posadas,” emulate the travel of Mary Mother of God and St. Joseph, as they traveled from inn to inn, looking for a place to birth Jesus Christ. Party-goers are divided into 2 groups; one to sing a song with the hopes of being let into the inn, and another group to deny entry, also through song. (Eventually the parties do combine and everyone’s happy.) Other notable celebrations include the pilgrimage to the Virgin of Guadalupe, from December 1 to 12, which culminates in prayers, songs, and flowers to sing “Las Mañanitas” to the Virgin. Also, there’s the “Nacimientos,” a classic Mexican Christmas ornament – a depiction of Jesus’ birth with painted clay figurines. The baby Jesus figurine isn’t placed until December 24, at midnight. When it comes to food, you’ve got hot Christmas fruit punch, tamales, buñuelos, and of course, piñatas filled with mandarins, sugar cane, candies, and other sweets.
So, here’s how this applies to you:
- Focus your budget on the region that’s relevant for your product…
- …and this involves conducting research for each market separately
- Tailor-fit your content (copywriting AND images) so they make sense in the local language – and cultural nuances, too
And in case we haven’t said it enough, research first. It doesn’t make much sense to push products in a marketplace where the customers don’t resonate with the spirit of what you’re trying to do.
Remember Those Cultural Differences
Now, you’ve got the usual Buon Natale, Frohe Weihnachten, and Joyeux Noël in most countries, but not every region wishes a happy Christmas the same way. Here’s a fun list of how different cultures say Merry Christmas:
- Arabic: Eid Milad Majid (“Glorious Birth Feast”)
- Aramaic: Eedookh Breekha (“Blessed Be Your Christmas”)
- Armenian: Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund (“Congratulations for the Holy Birth”)
- Hungarian: Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket (“Pleasant Christmas Holidays”)
- Hindi: Prabhu ka naya din aapko mubarak ho (“Happy Birthday God”)
- Hebrew: Chag Molad Sameach (“Happy Festival of the Birth”)
- Japanese: Meri Kurisumasu – or “Meri Kuri” for short!
- Montenegrin: Hristos se rodi (“Christ is born”) or Vaistinu se rodi (“Truly Born”)
- Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest (“Cheerful Christmas)
- Spanish: Feliz Navidad (“Holy Night”)
And, for giggles, in Sindarin (the Lord of the Rings Elven Language), it’s Mereth Veren e-Doled Eruion, which means “Joyous Feast of the Coming of the Son of God!”
Now, before you go off and print hundreds of little product inserts in these languages to stick into a festive package, make sure to run these by a professional translator first. Speaking the language of your customers, understanding the cultural differences that make us unique, means you’re going to do well this holiday. Well, make sure you understand your target market really well first, of course.
Translation and Localization for That Festive Merry Christmas Approach
Translating Idiomatic Expressions
Phrases like “White Christmas” may not hold the same charm in countries that never see snow. Finding a culturally equivalent phrase that carries the same festive spirit is a more effective approach. As we saw with that fun list above, countries express seasons’ greetings in different ways, so it’s a good idea to get a pro (and a native speaker) let you know what their countrymen prefer. Christmas is a time of cheer and festivity all over the world; make your localization strategy attune to the culture of the different countries you sell in.
Tone and Style Considerations
The tone of your Christmas marketing should be in harmony with the cultural norms of your target market. A playful and jolly tone might work well in the U.S., but a more formal approach could be preferable in countries like Germany, where the stoic people prefer less sales-y marketing language. Your sales performance will benefit when you tailor-fit your approach to each market you sell in, instead of assuming it’s a one-size-fits-all sort of deal.
Speaking of one-size-fits-all, have you ever wondered what are the advantages and disadvantages of eCommerce localization? Spoiler alert: you’re not going to get the same results across all marketplaces if you assume the strategy for one country will work for the next. Localization isn’t a magic wand. Read our blog to find out more!
Keyword Optimization in Different Languages
Optimizing for the right keywords in each language is crucial. ‘Christmas Sale’ might be a direct translation, but understanding what locals search for during the festive season is key to effective SEO. This is especially relevant if you’re experiencing your first Amazon holiday rush in new markets – all the more is it crucial for you to aim for long-tail keywords, or two word keywords and more. It’s also crucial to find out what people are calling your product in these marketplaces, so you attract the right customer base to your listing. At YLT Translations, we don’t translate keywords and then copy-paste into the listing; we generate new ones for each country so we utilize the same vocabulary that your customers do. Incidentally, the same holds true for website translation; this doesn’t just apply to your Amazon listing. Generate new keywords. Employ the help of a native speaker. You’re going to get better results that way.
Inclusive Language for Diverse Audiences
In areas where Christmas is not a major holiday, using inclusive language is essential. Avoid assuming that all aspects of Christmas are universally celebrated.
In the Middle East, Christmas is celebrated with diverse traditions. In Jordan, Christmas cakes are made with soaked dried fruits. Lebanese people plant seeds for decoration and enjoy a traditional lunch. Iraqi celebrations are solemn with a bonfire ritual. Bethlehem observes simultaneous masses in different languages. Syrian children receive gifts from a camel, and Egyptian Copts celebrate on January 7th with a special fast and traditional shortbread. And that’s just in the MENA region; imagine how diverse it would be across the globe!
Canada recognizes Santa Claus for sure (and did you know that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which monitors and controls the air space above the USA and Canada, monitors Santa’s sleigh movements as early as November?). However, take note that Santa himself may be a product of marketing; the modern image of a red-coated, jolly Santa Claus originated from a Coca-Cola advertisement. In contrast, older European traditions often include Saint Nicholas, a thin, older man in a long coat, originally a saint from Myra (now in Turkey). He is known as a protector of children. Some cultures have a Father Winter figure, merging with St. Nicholas in certain traditions. In Catholic countries like Spain, France, and Italy, Nativity scenes are common, while Northern Europe often retains ancient Pagan customs like Yule trees. In Germany, the Christ Child is said to bring gifts. The Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6 involves children receiving candy or a switch based on behavior. Christmas Eve traditions blend Christian and Pagan elements, including Nativity scenes, Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, and feasts, with the more commercial Santa being a relatively recent addition to these traditions.
So, inasmuch as you’ll peddle your Christmas cookie plate to cater to Santa’s midnight snack when he comes to deliver the presents, you’ll find that it may not resonate with your other customers. Again, research is key to a good localization strategy!
Synchronization of Visual and Textual Content
Cultural Appropriateness of Visual Elements
Visuals should reflect the cultural setting of your target market. For instance, incorporating images of local Christmas decorations can make your content more relatable. As we mentioned earlier, Japanese customers love seeing Japanese elements in their Christmas ornaments.
Ensuring Text-Image Alignment
Your visuals and text should work in tandem, reflecting the same cultural nuances and messages.
In different parts of the world, Christmas decorations vary widely. China uses delicate paper lanterns, while German children hunt for a hidden ornament on the tree. Australians use eucalyptus leaves and seashells, and Russians celebrate with snowflake decorations. In Norway, young women wear candle-adorned wreaths. The Irish tradition involves placing a candle in the window. Nativity scenes are a common element worldwide, especially in Europe. In Greece, Christmas ships are decorated with lights, and in France, Yule logs are embellished with candles and greenery, showcasing the diverse global Christmas ornamentation.
So, put it this way. If you’re selling candles and you’d like to tailor-fit your listing for a more Christmassy appeal, ask yourself how candles are used in the countries you sell in, and custom-fit your images (even just one!) to resonate with that country’s customs. Make the images relevant for your product, as it’s used in different cultures. You’ll find that you’ll do much better that way!
The Importance of Professional Translation Services
Ensuring Quality and Accuracy
Okay, this is important. Sure, we’ve given you a guide here on the things to watch out for when you localize your listings for the holiday sales season. But it’s crucial to involve pro localization services to customize your listing. Even the big brands follow this rule. That’s because a pro will understand your target culture way better. They’ll know what your target market wants to see, hear, and experience, and they’ll also know how to customize your keyword research and content to appeal to each culture. If Santa is popular in the USA, but St. Nick more so in Turkey, you’ll want to go past the initial research, and appeal to the expertise of a pro.
Thank goodness we have what we call the localization triumvirate – translator, copywriter, and Amazon expert all in one. Though this may feel like a shameful plug, we really must underline how crucial it is to localize your listings properly, to bring in those seasonal sales, especially considering that experts are looking at this holiday season as one of the biggest ones yet. You don’t want to use machine translations or a translator who might be more skilled in legal or medical translations; you really do need someone who understands your market, your platform, and your product.
As the Christmas season approaches, remember that effective translation is about more than language; it’s about cultural connection. By being mindful of these nuances, your holiday marketing can resonate more deeply with your international audience, turning this festive season into a global celebration of your brand.
Given that this holiday season is going to be one for the books, we’re excited to see you do incredibly well – so be sure your listings are primed for success!
Hit us up for a free listing audit. We can pinpoint some areas where you can do better. In the meantime – seasons’ greetings, happy holidays, Merry Christmas – in all the wonderful, different, and special ways it’s said across the world!