Translate Something

by Translation Guy on August 6, 2012

You have to speak the language of your customers. Business cliché 101. But it’s the truth. You literally have to speak their language.

So what if all your customers speak English?

That means you’re one choosy cherry picker. You’re overlooking the big slice of cake underneath that cherry on top. And the biggest slice is of those who will buy only in their native language on the Web.

“There is an undeniably strong link between in-language content and a consumer’s likelihood of making a purchase,” says Nataly Kelly of Common Sense Advisory, because:

  • 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language.
  • 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language.
  • 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.

More than half of consumers are willing to pay more if you are willing to give them information in their own languages. Did you just open up a new browser to check out your favorite competitor website and see how many languages they offer? If not, you should,” Kelly writes in Harvard Business Review

“Can you get by with English in Europe? You can if you’re carrying a camera, but not if you’re carrying a briefcase.” Nataly cites supporting evidence from last year’s Euro-barometer Web User’s Survey

  • Nine out of 10 Internet users said that, when given a choice of languages, they always visited a website in their own language.
  • Nearly one in five Europeans (19%) said they never browse in a language other than their own.
  • 42% said they never purchase products and services in other languages.

I recently posted on this same report here.

English is ubiquitous for Americans travelling in Europe, as de rigueur as a mint on the pillow in Euro-biz circles. The gilded ghetto of English immersion can be complete in Euro-countries where English fluency is particularly high. So the native-speaker is surrounded at all times by a self-selected bubble of English fluency. The moment the monolingual speaker steps from the room, the English-bubble collapses. All those fluent English speakers return to their normal, native-linguistic state, in which they do all their thinking and spend all their money.


  1. Kim Ancona says:

    Great article, carry the banner for translators everywhere.

  2. Peter Burval says:

    Certainly sounds good.

  3. Susan says:

    Albania is apparently an emerging market, but I wonder how widespread internet use is?

  4. Sounds completely reasonable, but certainly needs to run through a serious cost/benefit analysis to see if this would bring value to all industries or this is more sector specific.

  5. Shawn says:

    How much money are Euro’s spending these days on conspicuous consumption online is the follow up question?

  6. Sherry says:

    What would be the most beneficial languages to focus on in Europe outside the major ones of Franch, German, Italian and Spanish?

  7. Wade Harris says:

    I think that this kind of practice will have to become the norm moving forward.

  8. Wendy says:

    Here’s hoping more people learn to follow this line of thinking

  9. Carol says:

    19% and 42% are significant numbers, but not huge majorities.

  10. Swati Jain says:

    Given the economic downturn in Europe, is that the place to focus on as the countries speaking less wide spread languages aren’t exactly booming markets. Wouldn’t Asia be a better target?

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