Transcreation vs. Translation: A Key Component To A Successful Hispanic Panel

November 18, 2015 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

When Hispanic panels first started popping up in the early 2000’s, many of the first attempts where straight translations of their general market panel with a catchy Hispanic-themed panel name.

This was a step forward from no dedicated Hispanic panel and engaging Hispanics within a general market context, but these early Hispanic panels still failed to reach national representation due to the poor translations and lack of transcreation in the panel text.

What is transcreation?

Transcreation is a relatively new term which according to Wikipedia means:
“The process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. A successfully transcreated message evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language.“

So how does this apply to a Hispanic panel?

Glad you asked. Well, you have to consider that for Hispanics in the early 2000s, and even now in 2015, the concept of an online research panel is a fairly new one. For general market respondents, the idea of taking online surveys has been in the public consciousness for a much longer time.

For Hispanics, specifically unacculturated and Spanish-dominant Hispanics, however, the idea of taking surveys online is unfamiliar. And it is for that reason that the website copy that a general market panel might use should be free of assumptions that overestimate their understanding of the process.

Making a case for transcreation.

In comes successful transcreation. When creating a Spanish version of a panel portal, carrying “the same implications” is essential to the success of effectively transcreating messaging, as opposed to just translating it.

For example, a typical phrase that you can find on most panel portal sites nowadays would be, “take surveys online and earn points, it’s that easy!”. Simple enough right? But when transcreating for a different audience, Hispanic in this case, it isn’t that easy. That innocuous statement is loaded with assumptions, such as:

  • You assume the reader knows what an online survey is
  • You assume that the reader knows the relationship between taking a survey and points is
  • You assume that these concepts are “easy” when for some it may not be

Simply translating it into Spanish would lose all of its meaning. Transcreating it would mean educating the reader on the concept of a survey, what points are and how they can be used, and then letting them know that the process is easy.

Final word.

Things we take for granted being in the sample business are easy to brush off. But when it comes to Hispanic sample, making sure your panel provider has addressed common transcreation vs. translation mistakes could be the difference between filling a quota or missing it.