;   Medical Translation Insight: Economic challenges beg question, which markets to support? - ForeignExchange Translations

Economic challenges beg question, which markets to support?In our work with medical device and IVD companies, ForeignExchange's team has noticed that more and more of them are taking a careful look at which markets (and languages!) they support.

In these companies' efforts to reduce costs and gain efficiencies, smaller markets in particular, are on the "chopping block". I remember one device company, in particular, that considered whether or not to continue supporting the Greek market.

The regional manager mentioned that all the products the company ever sold in Greece would comfortably fit on a conference room table. They then compared this revenue to the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on translating, packaging, shipping, and providing support for the Greek market, and the conclusion was both quick and easy: drop Greek translations.

Most situations aren't quite as clear-cut, of course. Clients tell us that some of the questions they look at include:

  • How many markets are under consideration?
  • What is the size of these markets, now and in the future?
  • What products are currently selling in these markets as well as domestically?
  • What are competitors doing?
  • Do the selected markets support price points that allow for profit?
Medical devices companies are not about to turn their backs on international markets. But they are getting smarter about looking for ROIs through things like "SKU rationalization" that can do away with redundant products and inappropriate or wasteful packaging. Even the smallest packaging changes can have dramatic implications - positive or negative (e.g., even a small reduction in packaging weight, while maintaining product protection, will improve a company's bottom line).

Translation spend isn't the main cost but it certainly receives attention. Increasingly, device companies are looking at:
  • Incorporating previous user feedback
  • Shortening inserts, labels, and marketing documents
  • Redesigning packaging, labeling, and documentation
  • Writing with translation in mind
These last two items, in particular, have often been overlooked in the past: Companies tended to underestimate the importance of well-designed and well-written instructions and warnings (just look at the popularity of our events on Writing for a Global Audience and Optimizing Document Design for More Efficient Translation!).

Clear and simple language is less likely to be altered in translation. Instructions that are clear and accurate are a necessary part of a strong legal defense against product liability claims, not only in North America, but all over the world.

Rather than being a threat to our medical translation business, all of these efforts to do more with less present opportunities. Medical translators can provide ideas, guidance, and support to medical device companies. While some languages may get dropped, most client relationships will prosper as a result of these streamlining efforts!

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  1. Anonymous said...
    I am terribly sorry for Greek translators... :(
    Nathan Rantala said...
    True. I think that a manfacturer's investment in further training the distributor on how to overcome objections plays a part as well (i.e. customer service, quality of product, brand recognition, ect)

    [Via LinkedIn]

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