How to Localize your Ecommerce Content for Local Holidays

International holidays create ecommerce opportunities all year round, turning every season into a potential peak sales period. But there’s a catch: each market has cultural nuances, traditions, and consumer behaviors that influence purchasing decisions around local holidays. This is where holiday localization comes into play. Done correctly, it’ll boost your revenue around these times of the year. Doing too much or too little, you risk losing business.

The key is to strike the right balance—customizing your strategy to match the significance of each local holiday without over-saturating your audience with irrelevant promotions. Here’s what you need to know to win the holiday battle in international markets.

The 5 Ws of Holiday Localization: Understanding International Holidays

Localizing your promotions and marketing efforts to match local holidays means aligning your strategy with specific cultural, linguistic, and consumer behavior nuances. Let’s take a close look at the key reasons—and challenges—for taking these extra steps.

Where: The Right Countries for Localization
It’s important to choose the countries you’ll localize for carefully so you get the best possible return on your efforts. High sales volumes and strong growth potential are some of the best indicators. Prioritize stable economies where potential buyers have high disposable incomes and a predisposition for online shopping. Logistical factors like the efficiency of local shipping services and customer preferences for returns and support will also influence the decision.

In this post, we will take a look at China, Japan, South Korea, India, Brazil, and Germany because they are some of the top commercial global markets. 

What: Holiday Promotions That Need Localization
This list will vary significantly depending on how many countries you’re selling to and whether your products are relevant for specific holidays. For instance, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) in South Korea gathers families together to share food and pay respects to ancestors. If your ecommerce business sells products like traditional foods, gift sets, home goods, or family-oriented items, it makes sense to prepare for it. But if you’re selling tech and gadgets, it’s more effective to focus on holidays when people are looking for personal upgrades.

Additional questions to answer when localizing for local holidays:

  • What types of products do they buy for each holiday?
  • Which of your products would holiday shoppers be interested in for that holiday?

Who: Your Target Audience
People within each culture celebrate and shop differently, depending on their age, cultural background, lifestyle, or interests. Consider the Carnival in Brazil: Gen Zs splurge on the latest fashion, tech gadgets, and beauty products and respond to discounts and exclusive sales. In contrast, older Millennials prefer practical clothing and comfortable footwear for long celebrations. They also purchase costumes for their children and health-related products like first aid kits and sunscreen.

Helpful details that will maximize the return on your localization efforts during the holiday season:

  • How do specific different demographics celebrate the holiday?
  • Who do people celebrate with, and how do these relationships impact their buying behavior?

When: Don’t Force the Holiday Spirit
Not all cultures have the same tolerance for long marketing campaigns. The holiday shopping season in Western countries kicks off with Black Friday in late November, followed closely by Cyber Monday. Many retailers begin their promotions weeks before these dates, with some starting right after Halloween. Online shoppers got used to the extended promotional periods and often plan their shopping around early deals.

In contrast, shoppers in Japan typically prefer shorter, more intense promotional periods that align closely with the holiday itself.

Pay attention to details like:

  • When to launch your holiday campaigns for maximum impact
  • When to adjust your promotions to align with local shopping behaviors

Why: The Cultural Significance of Each Holiday
Cultural nuances help you tailor holiday localization efforts so your promotions resonate with each market’s unique traditions. The best example here is Christmas. In many Catholic countries, the holiday season extends beyond just Christmas Day, often including festivities leading to Epiphany on January 6th. In these markets, you should emphasize togetherness and tradition with promotions featuring nativity scenes, Christmas carols, and references to traditional meals and customs.

In contrast, Christmas in South Korea isn’t perceived as a religious holiday. The emphasis must be on gift-giving, shopping, and social gatherings, particularly among younger generations and couples. Local marketing campaigns should highlight contemporary decorations, fashionable gifts, and memorable experiences. Promotions will include exclusive deals and efficient delivery options to meet the high expectations of convenience and immediacy.

Adapt your localization strategy based on the following:

  • What are the local traditions and customs around that holiday?
  • Why do locals follow specific traditions or customs? What’s the meaning for them (togetherness, life transitions, religion, etc.)

4 Elements for Localizing Your Holiday Marketing Strategy

Now that you understand the key elements to balance when preparing your ecommerce for worldwide holidays, it’s time to build a comprehensive tactical plan. This way, you and your localization team are aligned and can effectively implement strategies tailored to each target market. Focus on the following 4 elements:

1.   Content Calendar
Create a detailed content calendar with key dates, cultural significance, deadlines, and promotional activities for each market, considering shipping or customer service availability.

Plan for pre-launch activities like teaser posts on social media, email notifications to loyal customers, and countdown timers on your website. Coordinate these efforts with your localization team and give experts enough time to make sure all content is culturally appropriate.

2.   Content Localization and Messaging Adaptation
When the holiday is similar across cultures, you can adapt your original marketing materials with translation and transcreation services. Going back to the Valentine’s Day example, you can keep the core message, but you’ll have to localize the websites, product descriptions, and social media posts to resonate with the target audience’s language and reflect the many cultural differences listed above.

On the other hand, providing content for unique local holidays requires working from scratch on tailored messages that suit the cultural context. Consider, for example, Golden Week in Japan, a series of four national holidays within seven days, from late April to early May. Simply repurposing content from other markets won’t bring you the expected sales. You must develop specific content that resonates with the Japanese audience and shows how your products can enhance their Golden Week experience.

3.   Imagery and Design
Visuals must reflect the specific holiday and cultural aesthetics of your target market. During the Chinese New Year, you might use imagery that includes red lanterns, dragon dances, and traditional Chinese motifs. The colors would prominently feature red and gold for good luck and prosperity.

In contrast, for Indian Diwali, your visuals should incorporate diyas (oil lamps), rangoli (colorful patterns made from powders), and fireworks. The colors would be gold, orange, and purple, reflecting the joyous and celebratory nature of the festival.

4.   Local Partnerships
Partnering with local influencers can make your promotions more relevant and effective. Local influencers deeply understand their followers’ preferences and can create content that resonates more authentically.

For even more accurate results, collaborate with local marketing agencies and logistics providers for smooth and efficient processes from start to finish. Nothing guarantees campaign success as impeccable customer service during peak holiday seasons.

The Valentine’s Day Example

To better understand the importance of localization for these countries, we can analyze one of the most celebrated holidays around the world: Valentine’s Day. Love is universal, but how people celebrate it can’t be more different. Even Germany, which is culturally closer to the US, has its unique preferences. German consumers appreciate high-quality and thoughtful gifts, which means your marketing needs to focus on the finer details of your products and services.

Valentine’s Day, or “Dia dos Namorados,” is on June 12th in Brazil. Shift your focus from February to June and integrate local traditions into your campaigns to align with your audience’s customs and expectations.

Moving to China, you’ll have to plan Valentine’s Day campaigns twice: on February 14th and again during the Qixi Festival. You can’t just repurpose your English content with a word-to-word translation. Instead, localize your promotions around traditional Chinese symbols and themes to make them relevant.

In Japan, Valentine’s Day has two parts: women give chocolates on February 14th, and men reciprocate on White Day, March 14th. Your strategy should include two separate campaigns to capture the spirit of each occasion and connect with both audiences at the right times.

South Korea adds another twist with Black Day on April 14th, celebrating singles. Here, you need to localize by targeting couples in February and March and singles in April. Offer special promotions and products tailored for each event to maximize your reach and impact.

India’s Valentine’s Day has become increasingly popular among the younger generation. Your campaigns can focus on flowers, chocolates, and jewelry like in the US, but with extra care for regional languages and cultural sensitivities.

Learn Localization from the Best: Amazon Success Story

Amazon is probably the best example of a sophisticated holiday localization strategy, and any ecommerce business can learn from its approach while sizing efforts according to budget.

The ecommerce giant bets on handpicked key holidays and maximizes return on investment with precise timing and targeted promotions. It localizes content for major holidays like Christmas, Diwali, and Chinese New Year, investing in ads on local social media channels to reach the right audience.

The pillars of Amazon’s strategy are:

  • Product selection
  • Holiday deals
  • Themed packaging
  • Quick delivery options for last-minute shoppers
  • Local influencers

How can a smaller business match these efforts? They need multi-language support, localized payment gateways, region-specific shipping options, and culturally relevant content. The right tools and partners are critical to successfully localizing holiday deals for engaging and compelling shopping experiences worldwide.

Final Thoughts

Ecommerce around the holiday season in a nutshell: everybody wants a slice of the pie.

And yes, it’s a massive pie with all the online buyers you can reach worldwide. The pressure to outperform international ecommerce competitors grows as everyone aims to capitalize on the general buying frenzy.

A language service provider can be a valuable partner in this process. They provide localization services beyond a word-to-word translation of your best ads, offering cultural expertise to adapt your holiday promotions to fit the local context. They use cultural references and extended knowledge about consumer preferences to make your marketing materials accurate, culturally appropriate, and persuasive.

At Hansem Global, we can make your global marketing strategy relevant to every local audience you target. Our experts can guide you in adapting visuals, product descriptions, and promotional campaigns so that every aspect of your marketing strategy perfectly matches the local audience.

With your quality products and our expertise, you can counter the challenges of international ecommerce and create compelling, culturally relevant holiday promotions. Contact us, and let us help you plan your next holiday campaign.