Marketing in the Balkans: Challenges in Translation

The main challenge when marketing in the Balkans is that you are actually attempting to market to eleven nations that have several differences between them. While classified together as the Balkans, the reality is that each of these nations in the region have their unique set of cultural and economical factors. Marketing to the Balkans involves a diverse and varied marketing strategy.

The countries included in the Balkan region are Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Romania. Greece and Slovenia are also sometimes considered part of the Balkans. As it can be seen, localization of a foreign brand in the region can be fraught with many challenges.

A closer look at each challenge and how to overcome it

Vast cultural diversity:

When dealing with so many countries it is not surprising that there is a wide variety of cultures included in the Balkans. Localizing content to suit one type of culture and expecting it to work for the whole region would be a mistake. The best approach is to identify the main target markets within the Balkans and then customize the content to suit each of those areas individually.

Vast economical differences:

Besides the culture, there are vast economical differences between the nations in the Balkans. While a country like Bulgaria is part of the EU and has a strong and growing economy, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a middle-income country. Serbia is still a growing economy but is more open to outside investment and talents. With so much variation, a company that wants to localize their brand in the Balkans needs to consider how well their brand will suit each country’s market.

Political sensitivities:

There is also some underlying tension between the nations. The political sensitivities make using blanket marketing strategies across borders a tricky situation. Before trying to use the same marketing strategies with two countries because of geographical proximity, it is better to understand the political climate between the two nations first. In most cases saying that a particular brand is fast-growing in a certain area might not sit well with another area and have the opposite effect of having the brand boycotted.

Pride in local brands:

Despite all their differences, one thing that the Balkan nations have in common is a pride for their local brands. The emerging economies are trying to make a mark for themselves by promoting their local products and importing only those commodities that are absolutely necessary. It would be prudent to first understand how your brand would be received in a certain country before trying to launch what might be competition to a cherished local brand.

Problem with higher prices:

Another challenge faced by foreign companies that try to market to the Balkans is higher pricing rates. Local companies will be at an advantage as they can offer products for cheaper. It is better to understand what the cost of living is in each of the nations and price products accordingly. A more competitively priced product stands a better chance of be sold than a very expensive option.

Why use Localize?

The resources that Localize can provide your company will be invaluable when designing a diverse and varied marketing strategy. With the help of both machine and professional human translations, your company will have a much better chance of customizing website content that suit your target audience. For each brand to stand out, it has to overcome at least some of the challenges faced when marketing to the Balkans and Localize can help you do that.

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