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Global Brands Continue to Expand Language Coverage in 2016
Posted by Benjamin B. Sargent on August 3, 2016  in the following blogs: Global Marketing, Market Data, Web Globalization
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How many languages does your brand speak? Here is compelling evidence linking global business success with website multilingualism.

Analyzing the options found on the world’s 2,657 most prominent websites in 2016, CSA Research discovered that:

  • Prominent sites feature an increasing plurality of languages. This year, we find 170 world tongues represented in our sample, with 97 of them appearing more than once. Note that this does not include devised languages such as Esperanto or fanciful ones like “Pirate.” After English (88% of sites), the most popular are Simplified Chinese (36%), Spanish (28%), Japanese (27%), French (27%), German (25%), and Portuguese (22%). Eighteen languages show up on 10% or more of the sites. Multilingual brands average 8.6 languages per website.

  • A growing number of companies support dozens of languages. We conduct an annual review of valuable brands, popular websites, and large companies. Our 2016 study finds 100 global brands (3.8%) supporting online customer experience in 30 or more languages. One-third (35%) still offer just a single language, with roughly a third of those not English. Of the 1,772 multilingual brand sites, 33% are bilingual; 16% use three languages; 46% offer five or more; 30% give 10 or more, 13% at least 20. Seven companies (<1%), including accuweather.com, bing.com, and vk.com, list over 50 languages. In 2016, we found no multilingual sites skipping English, which still serves as a lingua franca for the web.

  • Old brands go global – young brands go hyper-global. The majority of the websites offering 30 or more languages belong to well-established manufacturing and services companies, long entrenched in international markets; for example, adecco.com, honda.com, and merck.com. The youngest company on our 30+ list is ask.fm, a Latvian web-only startup founded in 2010. The average age for this group is 88 years, with 36 founded over 100 years ago. However, among companies with 45 or more languages, microsoft.com is the oldest company, followed by google.com and then 10 even younger companies.
Last week CSA Research published “Global Website Assessment Index 2016,” detailing the popularity of languages and social links in 38 industry sectors. As the average number of languages required for brands to compete for global market share increases, executives and marketers should seek industry data and best practices to guide decision-making. The number of languages spoken by your brand ultimately limits or expands your audience size and global market share.


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Keywords: B2B and B2C global marketing, Country and regional market studies, Global branding, Global websites, Online customer experience, Vertical market studies, Web globalization

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