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BizReport : Research archives : July 11, 2007

Online businesses need to mind their language

Despite the Internet breaking down barriers between markets a recent study finds that European companies do more business outside of their native countries than their American counterparts.

by Helen Leggatt

Forrester Research Inc.’s study of 161 U.S. and European marketing executives, commissioned by SDL, threw up some interesting figures relating to the future of multi-lingual websites.

While the Internet has removed international barriers between markets many companies, particularly in the U.S., have been slow to adapt to the cultural and linguistic needs of their global audiences. Just 24 percent of U.S. marketers claimed their customer experience is consistent across all languages, compared to 54 percent in Europe.

"Companies transitioning to a global model -- especially companies based in the U.S. -- aren't confident that their brands' values are consistently represented across all the languages that they support," said the report.

By 2009, half of the marketers surveyed expected their company websites to be available in at least five languages, says Forrester’s report. Today, over half (54 percent) operate websites in less than five languages. For European companies the expected average number of website languages required is fifteen.

"It is necessary, then, for marketers to adopt consistent technologies and processes across regions and to develop core skills for brand consistency and content management when they expand to new local markets," concluded the report.

Tags: culture, Europe, Forrester Research, language, translation

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