You’ve seen these emoticons, or emojicons, all across the Chinese and Japanese online forums.
What can you learn from them?
Cross-cultural marketing is about knowing how to speak your customer’s language. One of the more subtle ways of expressing yourself today is through emoticons.
But did you know that your Japanese and Chinese audience might have a completely different and rich way of expressing themselves online?
Emoticons, or emoji, are ways of expressing yourself without having to resort to any words. The pictures tell, in less than a thousand words, anything that you would like to express that is otherwise taboo or inexplicable in language. What can they teach you about cross-cultural understanding?
Cross-Cultural Marketing Needs to Understand Differences
When you are trying to reach an audience that is multi multicultural, there’s going to be some cultural bumps on the road.
When you check your iPhone on either the Chinese or Japanese setting, you’ll be able to see that there’s a whole new world out there when it comes to emoticons. This is not available in the US version so knowing your audience’s texting habits can definitely come in handy in business later down the line.
While Western emoticons are often viewed sideways, the more Asian emoticons have evolved to be a little more integrated into the text and thus more part of the conversation.
For example, “OTL” is an emoticon that is associated with disappointment. As you can see in this picture, there is a literal depiction of a man on his knees.
Emoticons have gotten increasingly elaborate, but one thing remains for certain—they will change and evolve to reflect happiness, sadness, and hope all in a few touches of the button.
Knowing Your Audience Pays
Imagine marketing to an audience that you don’t know.
Now imagine that you know so much about the audience that you can drill down to their minute details and you’ll be able to tell from even the most subtle of clues what they are feeling.
Emoticons teach you to be in the moment and understand what the audience is feeling right at this moment. It’s a great shortcut to having to wonder what they’re saying in words through translation when you can just as easily see in person.
Emoticons can teach you many things about your audience, a few of which are that your marketing needs to take into account differences in culture, evolutions in the culture, and that understanding your audience will pay dividends down the future.