A recent United Nations report found that more than half (57%) of the global population doesn't have regular access to the Internet. The good news, however, is that Internet access in developing markets is increasing, with various platforms for content available.
United Through Games
One of the first hurdles content brands have to overcome when they approach a new market is how to relate to a new audience. Cultural differences are abundant, and western brands looking to break into growth markets need to be mindful that what works in their home market may not translate directly to a new market.
One example of what brands can do is launch their content during an event of national or international scale. Examples include the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup, or the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Each market may have a different national sport. Football and baseball rule in the United States, but ice hockey has a passionate fandom in Canada. In Great Britain, rugby is the sport of choice. However, in growth markets, soccer and the Olympics are a safe bet.
International sports events are a strong hook for brands expanding into new markets. Those events provide a captive and engaged audience open to marketing as long as it provides something of use.
The key here for brands is localized content. Tying any content to a national team and creating a promotion around the success of the team (or, if possible, the personalities from the national team) shows consumers that your brand understands their interests and is willing to engage with consumers on a more personal level.
For example, during the soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010, Puma created the Africa Unity Kit (the world's first continental football kit) for Africa teams that had competed in the Africa Cup of Nations. That showed that Puma understood the pride the fans of these teams had from their participation in African football... and that Puma was proud by association.
Speaking Local Languages
Another finding from the UN report includes the poor state of broadband around the globe and the lack of local language content in developing markets. A total of 55% of pages on the Internet are in English, and only 5% of the world's languages are represented online. This makes content a lot more difficult to access and means that in countries like Vietnam, where Vietnamese is the majority language, the sheer volume of available content is significantly limited.
The ramifications of this for brands looking to move into non-English speaking countries are two-fold. For content to reach the broadest user base and for it to be accessible to the most people, a brand's content must be available in the local language. However, because those consumers are so underserviced in their own language, brands that provide content to fill that niche can also quickly build trust among consumers.
During international sporting events, providing relevant content in a local language is going to be particularly useful to consumers, and in developing markets, Internet access is not as widely propagated as it is in Western markets. What is more common is the mobile phone.
SMS is a reliable channel for engaging consumers and getting information out to a broad section of the population. Though SMS can be used to provide content as diverse as language learning, quizzes, and farming tips, during grand-scale sporting events brands may use SMS to share the results of national teams would be a great piece of engaging content for consumers, for example.
Brands that are unsure of when to launch their efforts in developing markets would do well to tie their initial wave of content to a large scale sporting event. To maximize trust-building with their target consumers, it is key for consumers in these markets to receive content in their local language. Cutting through the English language paradigm of the Internet is a sure-fire way for brands to make their message relevant to consumers all over the world.