Globalization vs localization: Differences and definitions

Globalization and localization are two contrasting concepts that refer to the process of adapting products, services, or content to suit different cultural, linguistic, and regional preferences.

The first aims to create a unified global market by standardizing products and processes, while the latter focuses on adapting products and content to meet the unique preferences and needs of specific local markets.

In this article, we will define both concepts and expand on their differences.


What is globalization?

Globalization, also known as g11n, refers to the process of increased interconnectedness and interdependence among countries, economies, cultures, and societies around the world. It involves the movement of goods, services, information, ideas, people, and capital across borders, leading to a more integrated and interconnected global system. Globalization has been driven by advancements in technology, communication, transportation, and international trade.

One of the main benefits of globalization is increased trade and investment, which have contributed to global economic growth and development. Consumers have access to a wider range of products and services from around the world. This also means a greater exposure to diverse cultures, leading to cross-cultural understanding and enrichment.

What is localization?

Localization (sometimes also shortened as l10n) refers to the process of adapting a product, service, or content to meet the preferences, cultural norms, language, and requirements of a specific target audience or market. It goes beyond mere translation and aims to create an experience that feels native and relevant to the local culture and context.

This process involves several key elements such as language adaptation, cultural adaptation, currency and payment methods adaptation, visual elements adaptation, audio and video adaptations, marketing and branding adjustments, UX and UI considerations, legal and regulatory compliance, among others.

Localization is a critical component of expanding into global markets, as it enhances user experience, increases engagement, and establishes a stronger connection with the local audience. All in all, one could say that global success in software hinges on how well you can make your users feel like the product was made just for them.

Globalization vs localization: The differences

Globalization and localization are two related but distinct concepts that play significant roles in various fields, including business, technology, culture, and more. Here are the key differences between globalization and localization:


Globalization focuses on the broader trend of breaking down geographical barriers, promoting cross-border interactions, and creating a more interconnected world economy and society.

Localization is a narrower concept that focuses on tailoring specific elements to meet the needs of a particular local audience, while still being part of the larger global context.


The objective of globalization is to foster greater integration, communication, and collaboration among different regions, countries, and cultures, often with the aim of promoting economic growth, cultural exchange, and shared knowledge.

The objective of localization is to provide a more personalized and culturally relevant experience for users within a specific local market. It ensures that products or content feel native and relatable to the target audience.


Globalization can lead to standardization of certain processes, products, and cultural elements across different regions, as well as increased competition and exposure to international markets.

Localization promotes diversity by acknowledging and respecting local cultural differences. It enhances user experience and engagement within specific markets.


Globalization operates on a global scale, aiming to connect countries and regions around the world. Localization, on the other hand, operates on a more localized scale, focusing on specific markets or regions.


Globalization emphasizes uniformity and standardization to some extent, in order to facilitate global interactions and communications.

Localization emphasizes customization and adaptation to the local context, accommodating unique linguistic and cultural characteristics.

Examples of globalization vs localization

Examples of globalization include international trade, multinational corporations, global supply chains, and the spread of global cultural phenomena (like music, movies, and fashion) across different countries.

McDonald’s global proliferation has come to represent the essence of globalization. While certain products maintain consistency across the globe, other offerings cater to specific regional tastes. For instance, McDonald’s outlets in Japan serve a milkshake infused with green tea flavor, while in Uruguay, the “McHuevo” is a burger crowned with a fried egg.

Examples of localization include translating software interfaces into local languages, adapting marketing campaigns to suit cultural preferences, and modifying product features to align with regional requirements.

Apple’s software and devices, for example, feature language and region-specific settings. Virtual assistant Siri speaks different languages and offers location-specific information. The company’s localization marketing strategy is also a crucial element of its global success. The brand adapts its campaigns to address unique market conditions, showing sensitivity to cultural values and taboos.

How POEditor assists in your localization processes

POEditor is a web-based localization management platform that helps streamline and facilitate the process of translating and managing software or content for multiple languages. It provides a centralized platform where you can manage all your translation projects, languages, and resources in one place. This streamlines communication and collaboration among your team members or translators.

Our tool allows you to upload the source content (strings, text, etc.) that needs to be translated. Translators can then work on translating these strings directly within the platform. You can invite translators to work on specific languages, and they can provide translations and comments.

Some of the features you can enjoy include translation memory, glossaries, QA checks, and integration options with version control systems (e.g. GitHub), content management systems (e.g. WordPress), and other platforms to synchronize translations seamlessly.

To sum it up

Both globalization and localization have their own roles and significance in today’s interconnected world.

Globalization sets the stage by enabling products and content to be accessible to a global audience, while localization steps in to create an intimate and culturally relevant experience for users within specific markets.

The combination of these approaches helps companies and creators succeed on a global scale while respecting the diversity of local cultures and preferences.

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