​​The Difference Between Internationalization and Globalization

When businesses want to grow and extend their reach to new target audiences in markets across the border, they have to go through several processes to achieve their goal. While probably everyone is familiar with the terms internationalization and globalization, in the world of business, not everyone understands the contextual meaning or the immense significance of the concepts they represent. Understanding these terms, and the difference between them, however, can help you prepare a winning strategy for launching to new markets more seamlessly, more rapidly, and, most importantly, successfully.

The Meaning of Internationalization vs Globalization vs Localization

To understand the sometimes elusive internationalization vs globalization puzzle, first, we must try to define the terms in the context of business. Globalization refers to all of the tactics and processes through which you will ultimately take your company to other markets. Internationalization, on the other hand, is a big part of globalization, playing a crucial role in completing the whole project. It refers to designing the products or services, as well as the internal operations in a way that will facilitate the expansion to global markets.

Apart from these two terms, there is a third one that’s equally as important and is also a key part of globalization—localization. We can say that it’s the last step a company takes to finally launch its business in a particular market. It refers to the processes through which they will adapt their products or services, and even their brand, to the culture and expectations of the target market and its relevant audience. From the definitions of the terms globalization (g11n), internationalization (i18n), as well as localization (l10n), we can easily see how indispensable they are in the process of developing a market entry strategy and executing it successfully.

Every time a business thinks about expanding a product or a service to international markets, they have to consider these processes. Because only through carrying out a well-thought-out plan for these processes (before even starting the expansion project) will a company be able to immerse in the new culture and create a real connection and a meaningful relationship with their new audience.

Consider the case of Weber-Stephen company (maker of the famous Weber Kettle backyard grill) and their successful entry into the Indian market – a market that is predominantly made up of vegetation consumers.

The Importance of Globalization, Internationalization, and Localization

As we explained above, globalization includes all of the processes required for internationalization and localization. It’s the sum of every step a company takes through the entire journey. It includes researching all the relevant international and local laws and regulations and finding international partners, suppliers, or collaborators, to give yourself a better chance to grow in the new environment.

Through internationalization, on the other hand, companies make sure that their products or services can be adapted for launching. For instance, it can mean recreating your website, software, or products in a way that will allow for adaptation to any new target markets. Only then will it be feasible that the company will reach a new audience, and attract new customers.

To finish the globalization processes, and finally be ready to enter a foreign market, businesses have to localize their products. This process requires deep knowledge of the local culture, and contrary to the belief of many, it is much more than translation. Even the processes of translation are sometimes underestimated by business owners. When a consumer sees an ad for a product, it shouldn’t feel foreign to them. If the translation isn’t good, if it’s too literal, for instance, to them it will feel artificial. As a result, your product or service will simply be unable to grab their attention.

Moreover, companies have to make sure that the symbols or colors they use aren’t offensive, or otherwise undesirable in the new audience’s culture or religion. They also need to ensure that they don’t have any meaning other than the one they are trying to convey. That’s why localization is best described as adaptation and customization.

Conclusion

Now more than ever, there are countless opportunities to expand your target audience and bring your products to the global market. Nevertheless, expanding to new markets is a long, expensive, and hard process. However, not impossible.

If you think your company is ready for such a huge leap toward growth, first you must make sure that you learn what it entails. For this, it’s crucial to understand the processes of globalization, internationalization, and localization, their importance, and invest in the best resources that can help you carry out a powerful market entry strategy. To learn more about formulating winning marketing strategies, subscribe to the TopRight blog! Or connect with me on Twitter and on LinkedIn. You can learn even more about how to bring simplicity, clarity, and alignment to your brand’s story, strategy, and systems in our best selling book: Marketing, Interrupted.