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Few industries are more global in nature than pharmaceuticals and life sciences. And while globalization has fueled growth and presented new opportunities, it also brings unique challenges. The issue of proper localization is chief among them.

It’s no small feat to bring a new product to market, but even after years of development and research the best ones can flop in international markets because localization wasn’t made a priority.

Below we discuss why localization is an imperative in the life sciences industry and share some tips on where to turn your focus. For the purposes of this article we’ll cover content and creative localization, as opposed to localization of development, production, and supply chain, which are subjects unto themselves.

Localization is key to the financial success of pharma and life sciences companies

We think localization is a smart strategy for any business with a global presence, but when it comes to marketing in the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector localization is nothing short of imperative.

Emerging markets contribute more and more to the growth of companies in pharma and life sciences, which means that, increasingly, succeeding in those emerging markets has a meaningful impact on the bottom line.

Localization, which requires tailoring content for a specific regional market, is complex for any company but the stakes are exponentially higher in pharmaceuticals. Translation errors or miscommunications stemming from cultural blindspots may result in improper product usage or dosage and the consequences of such missteps can be devastating.

Consumers are naturally at their most cautious when it comes to selecting and using products that contribute to their physical wellbeing and health. This means that meeting international consumers on their own terms (i.e.; in their own language and with a demonstrable understanding of cultural norms) is essential to building the trust that can make or break a product launch.

To understand why proper localization is so important, imagine picking up an over-the-counter pain reliever at the drug store and finding the product packaging riddled with grammatical mistakes. Would you trust the product inside? What about leafing through a pamphlet for a new prescription medication and only seeing patients from a different cultural or regional context. Would you feel confident that the medication was relevant to you?

Approaching localization in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries

When it comes to localization translation of product copy, marketing materials, and medical information from the language of origin into the language or languages of the region is a given. There is, however, a lot more to consider when embarking on the process of localization.

Translation is an important part of the process however and we can’t move on without mentioning that there are certain intricacies to consider when it comes to translating in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry. While subject matter expertise isn’t always critical for run-of-the-mill translation jobs, it is essential when translating medical and health-related content.

This type of content is highly technical and niche and even skilled translators may have difficulty finding the right terminology. In this case translation should be handled by native speakers who also have a background in the medical or pharmaceutical fields.

Once the content has been translated it’s also a good idea to have it reviewed by local legal counsel, also with a specialty in medical law. Taking this additional step will help ensure that no potential regulatory issues slip through.

Beyond translation and regulatory compliance, creative materials should also be adapted regionally. Research can unearth different cultural preferences for color schemes, package design, and website design. These should all be taken into consideration as you begin to localize your international brand presence. Even product names, which are often highly culturally specific, may need to be adapted to the local market.

Introducing our Solution: Global Experience Assessment

At BFM we work with many companies in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries so we have firsthand knowledge of the importance of localization in executing an effective global marketing strategy.

We developed our Global Experience Assessment to help our clients navigate the complexities of localizing to meet the demands and needs of diverse regional markets. Our Global Experience Assessment is a scalable solution for generating in-depth global research that will help your business expand efficiently without sacrificing the quality of the user experience.

Get in touch to find out more about our Global Experience Assessment and how it’s helping our clients in the life sciences sector grow.