Cross-Cultural Faux Pas – Watch out in Your Real Estate Marketing!

Real estate marketing to foreign buyers is a specific chapter of the art and science of international cross-cultural marketing, and the correct or incorrect using it can considerably impact your property sales. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

cultural faux pas

A Russian product in other countries

Once upon a time Russia started marketing a small Russian car, Zhiguli by the name, for export. The car was not the top product, but being rather cheap it was in some reasonable demand in many countries, but the name was a turn-off – nobody knew what the meaning of it was and moreover how to pronounce it. In Russian the name makes a perfect sense, as it’s the name of the picturesque forested mountains on river Volga near the city where the cars are manufactured.

When a difficult name Zhiguli was changed to a neutral and easy to pronounce and remember Lada, the international demand for the car grew up significantly.

An American product in Russia

EB-5 is an official name of an immigrant visa category of the U.S. which is simply an abbreviation of “Employment Based”. In Russian though the abbreviation sounds like the shortest bad Russian word (really bad!), and some very rude derivative of it means “being cheated”. Hmm… Although the visa program might be just suitable for Russian business people, not many have used it while at the same time Chinese folks get all these visas available. What’s in the name, you may ask?

A clever marketer wouldn’t use the official name of the visa promoting it in Russia, but say something like “investor’s visas” or simply “green cards for investors”.

Funny marketing faux pas

You may google cross-cultural faux pas and find a lot of funny examples on the internet on your own.

My favorite: In Swedish “Fartfull” means something like “High Speed” and Ikea has tried to offer a writing desk with such a name in the American market.

So, watch out how you do real estate marketing to the foreign buyers of various nationalities in their languages.

Happy blog reading,

Olga Kellen,
The Amazon Author
International Marketing Consultant and English-Russian Translator

Copyright © 2017 by Olga Kellen
All Rights Reserved


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