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How to Enter the APAC Market: Tips for Asia-Pacific Localization

The APAC region is ripe with opportuntiy, but will require a unique approach to penetrate the market.

august-blog-tiles the-importance-of-APAC

With a recent explosion in growth, the world's internet usage has quickly become dominated by users from the 20+ countries that make up the Asia-Pacific market. Encompassing East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, this massive region is an amazing opportunity for brands looking to expand globally.

And with such a diverse set of cultures, religions, languages and social trends, entering the APAC region should be a welcomed challenge. With the right strategy in mind, brands can successfully offer amazing experiences to this growing economy.

Why Localize For the APAC Region?

Recent reports have highlighted the APAC region as one of major growth, specifically for eCommerce sales. As the entire world continues to embrace online shopping, more APAC users are jumping online to discover, research and purchase new products or services at a rapid pace. That’s the short answer.

The long answer is this: When comparing overall Internet Growth Rankings year-over-year, a study published by DataReportal for Hootsuite and WeAreSocial reported that the APAC region in particular "delivered 55% of the annual growth figure" when measuring the worldwide number of internet users.


This alone indicates that the APAC region is one of, if not the, fastest growing region of digital users. China in particular added 50 million new internet users in just this past year alone, based on data from the same report.

Think about that for a second. 50 million new internet users in one year.

And, of course, this surge in users has led to a surge in spending.

GlobalData's APAC eCommerce Landscape Insights for 2019 estimated that eCommerce (B2C) transactions in APAC generated a combined $1.6 trillion in 2018. It's worth noting that China is clearly the largest contributor here, driving $1.2 trillion transactions -- which was "followed distantly by Japan with $162.8 billion."

Three Tips To Successfully Localize Content for the APAC Region

The APAC region can be seen as a tough nut to crack -- but that's just because of how diverse and unique the region can be. Any successful entry into a new market begins with understanding that market, and for APAC that means going mobile first.

Users within APAC are natively mobile, and many if not all have completely skipped the desktop generation. This is due to the accessibility of mobile devices, with far more affordable options.

So while in NA and EMEA, users will choose mobile for certain experiences, mobile is the default experience for users in the APAC region. This is also seen in the data, with APAC users routinely purchasing from mobile devices leveraging digital payment methods.


With a clear understanding of what makes the APAC eCommerce experience so unique, brands can leverage these elements for a successful expansion.

1. Focus on mobile content and services
The APAC region in 2018 had a population of 4.214 billion, with over 2 billion of those actively browsing the web. Of those 2 billion on the web, 1.7 billion are active social media users, and 1.713 billion users are specifically active on mobile devices.

Another landscape report provided by GlobalData determined that "increased mobile internet and smartphone penetration along with the proliferation of alternative payment methods are three important factors driving eCommerce adoption in Asia-Pacific.

This same report estimated that "eCommerce transaction in APAC generated a combined $1.6 trillion in 2018," and "China alone contributed $1.2 trillion to this total."

Simply put, APAC is both a massive global buying power, and one that loves their mobile experiences. By tailoring content to smartphones, tablets and even smart speakers with voice search, brands can reach these users where they already are.

2. Localize down to the City level
The Asia Pacific market is huge. There's no way around it. To complicate matters even further, not all countries in the region are the same -- there are hundreds of languages spoken, multiple religions, diverse geography, and widespread economic development on both ends of the spectrum.

Brands must take a careful approach to localize content for each individual country, or even cities. For example, APAC consists of Asian nations like China, Japan and South Korea -- each of which have their own distinct cultures -- along with Oceania countries including Australia.

With proper planning and research, organizations can build out a detailed understanding of each unique region, even down to the city level. According to McKinsey research, brands will do better "by focusing on urban clusters than by conceiving of an entire country as one market."

This is an interesting distinction to make. In the last 10 years, there has been massive movement of populations from rural regions into the growing cities, ripe with opportunity and wealth.

"In developing and emerging Asia alike, cities are by far the dominant nodes of mass consumption, and their importance will surely grow. In Japan, more than half of all consumers live in Tokyo or Osaka. A fifth of South Korea's live in Seoul."

3. Consider Transcreation, Not Just Translation
While in the same family, Transcreation and Translation are not the same. Translation is more about replicating existing content in a new language, while transcreation aims to create entirely new content that captures the overall tone, feel and voice of the brand.

Usually, messaging that is written for one target segment or audience will not resonate with a completely different group. With transcreation, the result is brand new messaging that is targeted and localized, while with translation, the result is new words in another language, but with the same messaging.

Transcreation will enable your brand to offer content that is tailored to the unique elements of each region's culture, as opposed to translating a one-size-fits-all pieces of content that doesn't quite resonate with this new audience.

This is especially pertinent for APAC, where culture differs from city to city, let alone from country to country.

An Opportunity Worth Seizing

With such massive growth in such a short period of time, the APAC region is one worth entering. But of course, as with any new audience, there are unique elements that must be considered for content to engage and resonate.

Working with our talented translators, most of which are located in the region they translate for, will enable your brand to gain a strong understanding of the cultural elements and trends unique to each audience in the region.

Want to learn more? Book a meeting to speak to one of our experts today!

About Matt

Matt Grech is the Content Marketing Manager at Smartling, responsible for growing Smartling awareness and brand content. As a digital content writer, Matt applies his journalistic lens to content, helping users deepen their understanding of the brand, services and technology provided by Smartling. Matt has previously contributed to an industry leading Unified Communications resource, as well as local newspapers where he developed his unique ability to investigate, interview, and transform complex problems into simple solutions.