Universalisation all the way to Annual Reports
L’Oréal’s ambitious strategy ‘Universalisation’ is defined by the brand as ‘capturing, understanding, and respecting differences’. Driven by this motto, for decades the world’s largest cosmetics company has been tailoring their products to suit consumers from different parts of the world. However, the French conglomerate has taken one step further. Now, L’Oréal strives to be culturally intelligent when communicating with employees, shareholders, and investors across the globe.
The cosmetics giant made a rational yet revolutionary move: producing their Annual Report in simplified Chinese.
The decision is not at all hard to understand. In China, a nation with a population of 1.3 billion, only around 3% of the citizens can read English without resorting to dictionaries. Education First’s research results categorise China as having ‘low English proficiency’. The English ability of China’s business professionals is rated 5.1 out of 10 – deemed ‘basic’ by Global English. The ‘English only’ policy adopted by many western businesses is simply insufficient when dealing with China. To tap into the purchasing power of this gigantic population, one must speak and understand the Chinese language and culture.
Having a quality translation for the report is far from enough, though. L’Oréal has also proved its ability to innovate by making its Annual Report digital. The company has transformed the traditional ARs into a sleek trilingual (French/English/Chinese) website. In China, digital is everything. To the Chinese, reading 300 pages is likely to appear extremely daunting compared to browsing through pretty, interactive webpages. In addition, L’Oréal has partnered with China’s major digital platforms and launched countless online campaigns, with each of them being a local internet sensation.
Thanks to the localised products, on-point online strategies, and well-translated company documentation, L’Oréal has successfully grasped the heart of the Chinese community. The company is now enjoying a positive reaction from – as L’Oréal calls it – the ‘Middle Kingdom’: strong, double-digit, sustainable growth.
It seems likely that an increasing number of businesses will start making their documents more attractive to Chinese sensibilities. It is also now more widely accepted that big companies will (and should) start translating and re-conceptualising their materials for different regions. As a premium language service provider, Alto is delighted to see trans-national businesses becoming culturally and linguistically wiser and more respectful when dealing with different communities. We are also very honoured to play a role in recognising the value of each unique language and culture.
So who’s next?