June 5, 2012
IKEA Product Naming Faces Challenges in Thailand
IKEA is running into a problem in Thailand that many global companies encounter - their product naming translates, well, poorly.
As The Wall Street Journal reports today, "Is Redalen a) a town in Norway b) a bed sold by Swedish furniture chain IKEA or c) something that sounds uncomfortably close to getting to third base in Thailand?"
"The answer, it turns out, is all three."
IKEA's fifth largest superstore is in Thailand and the locals are finding the Swedish sounding product names pretty crazy. In addition to the Redalen bed, there is the Jättebra plant pot which sounds like a crude term for sex in Thai.
Consequently, a team of Thai speakers has been hired to modify the product naming by evaluating each product name and carefully and slightly changing the names to avoid negative connotations.
The problem of global naming is of course, a subject I have written about before. In earlier blogs I noted that Mr. Muscle sounds like Mr. Chicken Meat in China, and Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" tagline translates to "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead" in Taiwan.
And the list of naming faux pas goes on and on.
Interestingly, IKEA intentionally goes out of its way to create unusual names.
Chairs and desks are men's names, dining tables and chairs are Finnish place names, garden furniture is named after Swedish islands, and the list goes on.
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