Haier : Keeping back content

Judgement is needed on what is in the local interest.

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The feature

Haier, the China-based world-leader in household appliances, has a dual language group site that says less than it should on one of them. Haier produces English- and Chinese-language versions of its group site, mutually accessible from a universal ‘toggle’. The primary navigation bar has the same sections on both, with the sub-section headings displayed in a hang-down bar on mouseover. On the English version the Social Responsibility section shows no sub-sections and clicks through to a single-page narrative about its Green Sail environmental initiative. This page is one of six sub-sections in the Chinese version, including one about its involvement in the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s global Earth Hour campaign.

The takeaway

Haier’s dual language set-up offering English as a universal alternative to the local language is a common feature of global-company corporate sites. And its greater volume of local-language content is fairly standard among companies from the BRIC block (Brazil, Russia, India, China). But the discrepancy between Social Responsibility content in English and Chinese illuminates an issue on which they all have to make a call: how much to share with the world and what to save for the locals. The deciding factor has to be appropriateness: the balance will be different in a careers section compared with investor relations, for example. Here, though, Haier has made too parochial a judgement. Even allowing for much of the Chinese Social Responsibility content being about support for events and initiatives in China there is a story to be told and illustrated for a global audience, including the involvement with the Earth Hour campaign. Much of the purpose of a global corporate site is bound up with reputation building, and Haier could be doing more with what it has to raise its profile.

First published 31 January, 2013
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