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The role of multiculturalism & history in the localization process of a product: the case of Algeria

If a company wants to succeed internationally and offer its products in a more targeted manner in other countries, localization is a key point. As far as translation is concerned, it is only a step of the localization process, because the meaning of localization goes beyond words; it involves knowing your target audience, creating surveys and marketing campaigns by audience and even by culture - and this is especially true for large countries with several regions, each one influenced by history, a wave of immigration or even a process of modernity.


Consider the example of Algeria -the official language is Arabic. Before French colonization, the only written language in Algeria was classical Arabic. But during the French colonization (1830-1962), French was introduced as an official language by the French authorities in the Algerian administration and it is still used today. 


However, the French language is not only used in the Algerian administration, but also in daily life. Algeria is a large French-speaking country and yet it is not part of the French-speaking community - Francophonie. If we want to understand this paradox, we have to realize that the French language in Algeria is the object of a strong ambivalence, which has social, cultural, political and identity aspects. However, the French language is widely used for marketing companies - or at least all Arabic marketing companies are translated into French. 


But we also have marketing campaigns in Tamazight. Yes, in Algeria, there is a region called Kabylia. Its inhabitants defend and protect their own culture and origin - the Berber culture, as well as their own language - Tamazight. Algeria is the first country that has given a constitutional status to the Berber language; Tamazight was recognized as a "national language" in the Algerian Constitution in 2002.


So, we end up with several slogans/adds in several languages that have the same meaning for the same country?


As far as the localization process is concerned, the marketing and localization team of a company that wants to make its products known in a foreign market must not only rely on translation, but also on a transcreation of the original message for the target audience(s). In the case of Algeria, we can choose Arabic if we want to target people over 50 years old, but not necessarily. It should be noted that these people were at the heart of colonization and independence and did most of their studies in French. But from my observations in the field, Arabic is the preferred language of this group.


For the 25-50 age group, the social background comes into play; on the one hand, we have people who are very active professionally and who are more in touch with foreign companies and therefore with brands; and above all, many university professors use the French language to teach their courses at university, which accustoms them to speaking and reading French in everyday life.


With regard to young people aged between 15 and 25, they are part of a new wave that is divided: on the one hand, we have young people who want to preserve the Arabic and Tamazight language and culture, and on the other hand, we have young people who choose French because of social networks or a desire to study abroad. It is interesting to mention that these young people are facing a new wave of "internationalization" that concerns the English language. But that's a topic for another article!


So you have now figured it out, Algeria is a multilingual country and a playground for multilingual marketing campaigns influenced by multiculturalism. But, in this case, how can a company carry out its localization project?


First, the company has to identify the age group it is targeting with its product(s). Then, conduct marketing campaigns through social networks - it must be said that Algerians are very active on social networks - and thus determine in which language the message is most assimilated.


Finally, Algeria being a huge country, with the largest surface area in Africa (4 times the size of France or 60 times the size of Switzerland - Thanks Wiki!), is home to a diverse culture, a good marketing company must therefore find the common point of all Algerians and present its product to everyone and everyone individually.


Thanks to my privileged place in the scientific community, I know that researchers and marketing professionals work tirelessly to find solutions to have marketing campaigns and concepts that address everyone, from every corner of Algeria. As far as the translators are concerned, their aim is to take the localization process beyond words and address each region of this huge country - major "harbour" of the Mediterranean basin!


I' ll be happy to read other examples that you are familiar with. Till soon...


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