Chinese is one of the most important business languages. It is second only to English in terms of being the most spoken, so here are a few important things to know while creating your localization strategy.
With a large population and a growing number of middle-class consumers, the Chinese market has been a new hotspot for businesses. The Chinese market can be a successful market for your business if it’s done right. It’s easier than ever to crack this market with the growth of technology, online shopping, eCommerce translation services, and eLearning platforms. However, there are some major points to consider if you want to localize for a Chinese area or region, as there are many pitfalls when localizing to Chinese.
Chinese is an old and diverse language. In mainland China alone, around 70 million people belong to 55 different minority groups, each with their dialect and some that don’t even have a distinguishable written form. However, with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Mandarin was chosen as the official language of the country. Today, more than 70% of the Chinese population speaks Mandarin.
Written Traditional Chinese is around 6000 years old and is the oldest written language in the world. Cantonese speakers generally still use these characters, as do Mandarin speakers in Taiwan. Mandarin speakers in China use Simplified Chinese characters. Simplified characters have been around significantly less than their traditional counterpart as they were formalized at the beginning of the People’s Republic of China. The People’s Republic of China was formed in 1949, and at the time, the majority of Chinese could not read or write. To improve literacy, Mao Zedong initiated a new system of Simplified Chinese, simplifying around 2000 Chinese characters by reducing the number of strokes used for each character. Simplified Chinese was first used in 1956.
While there are various spoken dialects of Chinese, these are the two major forms of writing. This is handy as even if the spoken dialect is different, Chinese can generally communicate through writing.
Seven major dialects are used in China and its Special Administrative Regions (SARs). To reach the Chinese market with your business, you need to know where your target market is and what Chinese form is used there.
|Mandarin (Putonghua)||Most of mainland China, Taiwan, Macau|
|Cantonese/Yue||Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou (Canton), and Wuzhou.|
|Min||Fujian province and parts of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Hainan, and Taiwan|
|Wu||Zhejiang province, Shanghai, southern Jiangsu province, parts of Anhui and Jiangxi provinces.|
|Xiang||Most of the Hunan province, the counties of Quanzhou, Guanyang, Ziyuan, and Xing’an, northeastern Guangxi province.|
|Hakka||Northeastern Guangdong, adjoining regions of Fujian, Jiangxi, Southern Hunan, and the older generations of Hong Kongers in the New Territories. In Taiwan, Hakka is spoken by some in the Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli parts of the country.|
Related: What’s the Difference Between Mandarin and Cantonese?
All of this variation within the Chinese language necessitates using the best Chinese translation services company to guarantee that sufficient research is done to develop a translation and localization plan that matches your strategy for entering this lucrative market.
Like any good localization strategy, you need to know your target audience, its culture, its language, and the things your target market values. You’ll need to consider how your brand voice and whether this will resonate with a Chinese audience. Can you directly translate your brand content, or will you need to consider a more creative translation, a transcreation, to convey your brand voice? As China is diverse, with differences across the regions, high-quality translation services can help you achieve your marketing strategy. An experienced translation agency can help you avoid cultural mishaps and translation errors.
Learn from the companies who have attempted and accessed the market already. Localizing in China is challenging, and even some of the biggest names have failed after not performing thorough market research. Learning from what has worked with brands that are similar to yours can help narrow your research and expedite your localization strategy.
Related: The Top 10 Translation Blunders in Advertising
Mainland China uses various social media and eCommerce platforms that are not used or are less popular in other countries. Baidu is the search engine used by most people, with platforms such as WeChat for social media and eCommerce payments. Other social media platforms include Qzone, Renren and P1. In Hong Kong, western social media platforms are popular, and a variety of eCommerce platforms, from the Octopus card to PayMe, are used to pay for products online.
It should be apparent by now the importance of localization and translation services when expanding your business globally, especially into Chinese markets. Navigating any new market is challenging, so take the guesswork out of your localization strategy and get the assistance of translation and localization experts.
Into23 is a translation agency in Hong Kong offering localization and translation services. We are experts in Asian languages. Reach out to Into23 today to discuss your business localization strategy to set yourself up for success in the Chinese markets.