The Apprentice: Translation And Cultural Issues

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The Apprentice semi-finals and final appear on British television this week. We therefore thought it a good time to review the relevance of the programme to the translation industry. Let’s look at some of the translation and cultural issues raised.

Selling cheese to the French

Episodes in previous series have shown candidates struggling with linguistic and cultural issues. Notably in the last series when buying products in Morocco. In the previous series candidates tried to sell cheese and other products on a French market. Both programmes were hysterically funny, and are my personal favourite episodes of any series so far. This series hasn’t quite matched these two episodes.

The big learning issue from the French market fiasco, was about understanding your target market. One team was very surprised not to be able to sell slabs of Makro cheddar. This was in a market that had over 100 varieties of quality French cheese.

Communicating with your customers

A common theme of overseas Apprentice episodes is seeing candidates struggling to communicate in a foreign language. Sometimes they are caught out, they make big claims on their CVs, but can’t speak the language. It is surprising how many companies think they can sell in a foreign market by communicating in English. The reality is that most customers prefer to buy in their native language.

Translation and cultural issues

It definitely pays to speak your customer’s language. Translation can ensure you communicate marketing messages appropriately to your foreign language audience.

Understand your market

As a translation agency, we work extensively with retail, and our clients work very hard at understanding their target markets. A product which sells well in one market, may not sell well in another. In fashion for example, it isn’t just about style of clothing. National tastes may vary, for example colour preferences vary from market to market.

Find out more about retail translation

Thinking of selling in overseas markets for the first time? Contact us to discuss any aspect of translation. Read more about retail translation.