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More than Nine out of 10 Businesses Surveyed Across Eight Countries Prefer to Purchase Products That Have Been Adapted to Local Language and Market Needs

Companies that adapt their products to local languages and market needs have a significantly greater chance of selling to international buyers.  In a September 2008 survey of 351 buyers of business software from eight non-Anglophone countries, Common Sense Advisory found a high correlation between purchasing likelihood and localized products.  The data from the survey, which included businesspeople in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Sweden, showed that more than nine out of 10 buyers prefer products and information that are available in their native languages and adapted to local requirements. These findings are detailed in the firm’s report “Localization Matters” and provide for a clear business case for localizing products and websites for business-to-business situations.

Common Sense Advisory Chief Research Officer Donald A. DePalma explains, “Many firms still debate whether it makes business sense for them to localize their products, mostly because there is a longstanding assumption that people feel comfortable using English. However, this data clearly shows that even when people speak English confidently, they still prefer products in their language. They want to learn about these products in their own languages and use complex products that have been adapted to their businesses and cultural environments."

The research report includes analysis of the survey findings and dozens of data points to help companies – especially software vendors and manufacturers of complex products with a software user interface, documentation, and technical support – make the business case for localization, including the following:

Even when people speak English, they prefer to buy in their own languages.

  • More than 80 percent said they felt that their English proficiency was good enough to understand the offers, benefits, and terms and conditions associated with buying software; however, nearly all of the respondents said they were more likely to buy products with translated product information and localized interfaces.
  • Companies with end users comfortable with English are still 4.5 times more likely to buy localized than English software. The survey found that even when a buyer thinks that end users understand English well enough to use English-language productivity applications they are still 4.5 times more likely to purchase a software product if marketing, other collateral, and end-user documentation have been translated into their language; the software programming, documentation, and tools are available in their language, and post-sales technical support is available in their language.

Localization drives sales.

  • Translating marketing materials drives sales. More than 80 percent said they wouldn’t give full consideration to a product that did not have localized marketing materials.
  • For four out of five of buyers, translated information and localized software increase their likelihood to buy. One out of six buyers will never even consider buying software that’s not localized.
  • When surveyed about purchasing via websites, Asian buyers are significantly less comfortable buying in English. Just five percent of the Japanese and seven percent of the Chinese respondents said they were very comfortable buying in languages other than their own, and 100 percent of both groups preferred to buy in their native languages.

"Localization Matters” is available as part of a Common Sense Advisory research membership. For more information, visit www.commonsenseadvisory.com.

Submitted On: 1/11/2011

Common Sense Advisory research and analysts are frequently cited in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Fortune Magazine, Inc Magazine, and BusinessWeek.
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