How do you say chocolate in India?

By Burt Alper

September 29, 2008

It turns out that it’s not as simple as translating your product branding into the language of the place where you’re going to sell the thing. A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research tested the effectiveness of marketing for different products with college students in New Delhi. Packaging copy was written in English, Hindi and mixtures thereof for chocolate and laundry detergent. This brief article in the NY Times covers the highlights of the study’s findings. It seemed that the students preferred English or an English-rich hybrid for chocolate while Hindi or a Hind-rich mixture for laundry detergent. Aradhna Krishna, the study’s author, attributed this the fact that English is associated with global and cosmopolitan upper class, while Hindi (probably the language spoken at home) is associated with inclusion and family. Interestingly, products that were marketed by multinational companies with all-Hindi packaging copy were viewed poorly. Professor Krishna explains, “It backfires. It’s like, ‘Who is this guy using Hindi?’”

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