The Vitality of Localisation in Malaysia

June 1, 2022September 15th, 2022 No Comments Written By: Cause Effect Digital



What is Business Localisation?

The process of planning to operate a business in a given geographical region is known as localisation. Gathering particular and relevant data for the generation of reports, projections, and other important business artefacts can be used to implement a localisation plan. Such information is required not just for the development of a company in a new location, but also for successful marketing efforts that target specific demographics or sectors.

Localisation services will assure the business’ ability to remain successful in its major purpose while also providing prospects for business continuity, growth, and expansion into new markets after it has been effectively established. Eventually, the process of localisation can be used to turn even the most basic origins into an international dominion on the internet. As an agency in Malaysia, we know the importance of localisation especially in content marketing because of the difference in the impact that it provides.

Internationalisation, however, is the process by which a corporation employs localisation methods to successfully navigate transnational markets with lower levels of competition. Localisation, internationalisation, and globalisation online are all successful ways to create a global marketplace, even for locally produced goods. While localisation, internationalisation, and globalisation are all essential, the focus of this article is on the notion of the first method and how it applies to organisations.

Localisation in Malaysia


Whenever we talk about content marketing and how to best attract a target audience’s attention, we always think about relatability and resonation. People would lean towards things that they can relate to or resonate with, and this is where localisation comes into play.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a local or international company, when it comes to the market that you are delving into, you must know what is the best way to attract your audience. There are a myriad of brands who practice localisation in Malaysia, such as Nando’s, McDonald’s, GSC, Digi, Petronas, and even Ikea. The strategy for localisation can appear in various forms as well, whether it is their product, their advertising, or simply the content that they put out on their social media channels.

Let’s take a look at the brand with the easiest and most obvious product form of localisation in Malaysia: McDonald’s. How many times do you go to the fast food restaurant in a week? Surely we all have our favourites from their menu in mind, but do you notice that they have nasi lemak always at the ready for us to order? Not to mention the yearly anticipation of the Prosperity burger created over two decades ago to celebrate the festive season of Chinese New Year! This has also been picked up by other markets like Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

McDonald’s has a way of branding itself and staying relevant across the globe because we can assure you, anyone can recognise that yellow “M” anywhere. However, despite being a widely known and established brand, they still take the initiative to reach out to their target audience through strategies such as localisation. Besides the mentioned products, they also incorporate local context in their advertisements.


Have you ever driven past a large McDonald’s billboard on the side of the road where the ad is specified for the state that you’re in? The use of these billboards to promote the states in the country is genius. Imagine if the Petronas Twin Towers were actually made of two sundae cones and connected with a single fry. What a world we’d be living in.


Besides these localised billboards, their advertisements can also include local context in a sense that is relatable to the audience. Marketers may now take the localisation and micro mindset a step further with the advent of digital advertising. For McDonald’s, using the same Oreo McFlurry promotion and combining it with real-time data like location—which can now be as precise as 500 metres—and weather, they could create a Google banner ad that reads “Sweating? It’s 36°C in Kuala Lumpur. How about a delicious Oreo McFlurry to cool down”. You already know how hot the weather can get in Malaysia, so this can contribute to the kind of content that you can put out, and it shows that the options for localisation are limitless.

Localisation has an enigmatic quality to it that can’t be articulated. People react and respond significantly differently to advertising that is specifically tailored for their country, state, city, and them. Localisation demonstrates that a company cares about its clients and honestly considers their individual demands.

Advertising has always been about evoking emotions in customers and making them feel good about your company, which leads to a sale. And it is via the localisation of marketing that McDonald’s, a worldwide brand, touches the hearts of 68 million people every day.

Another similar example would be Nando’s and their local puns. When it comes to advertising in Malaysia, using Bahasa Malaysia to resonate with the audience is one thing, but it is another to use slangs that vary across different states or even puns that relate to local contexts and can be understood by everyone. 


The ad above is an example of catering to the Malaysian audience because, if you’re a Malaysian citizen, you already know the existence of Manglish in our daily lives. We mix the usage of Bahasa Malaysia and English all the time, and replacing the word ‘eat’ with ‘makan’ in what’s supposed to be a fully English sentence is one of the most common examples someone can give in a Malaysian context. Of course, it is important that you know your own target audience and how you can cater your products and services towards them in a way that aligns with your brand identity. But if you’re interested in implementing the Malaysian slangs and local puns in your content marketing or advertising, then this is one way to go!


Ikea also practised localisation in their marketing when they opened their branch in Penang, using the Hokkien dialect in their brochures. Nigel Richardson, the head of marketing for Ikea in South East Asia, said that “We wanted to introduce IKEA to Penang with an engaging and relatable campaign that takes into account the unique cultural nuances of the city,” where once again, relatability is focused on in order to attract their target market.

Bottom Line


Be proactive rather than reactive. You may still be quirky and entertaining if your company is recognised for it, or have a formal and professional image, but the trick is to do it in a manner that is in accordance with locals. Adapt your advertising localisation strategy for each location carefully. Who are you targeting and what will they relate to?

How do you cherry pick the local contexts that are fathomable by the Malaysian audience and make it align with your brand identity or image? When you take these points into account, then only will you be able to execute the perfect localisation plan in order to garner the attention of your target audience.

If you want to reach a new level of digital advertising Malaysia will ever witness, we at Cause Effect Digital are here to assist and guide you every step of the way. Contact us and kick start your digital marketing journey with us today. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates regarding the digital marketing world!