Everybody speaks English… or do they??

A couple years ago at MEDICA in Germany (a huge conference related to medical field) we got chatting to a Chinese gentlemen who was selling medical equipment. After few minutes of chatting about their newest developments we started talking about languages and the need for translation of marketing collateral and user guide manuals. His response was somewhat surprising; in his thick Mandarin accent he said: ‘Translation? No need. Everybody speaks English!’


This is a common misconception, especially for the British and that is probably why not many learn to speak foreign languages (by the way, what are the best languages to learn?). However, it was surprising to hear this sort of statement from a gentleman who is selling his products internationally and in most European countries the user guide manuals need to be available in local languages. Especially manuals for medical equipment!


Therefore, how important is it for businesses to communicate with clients in their native language? I think that Willy Brandt, a former Chancellor of Germany, has summed it up very well in his famous quote:

“If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen sie Deutsch sprechen.”


So the question is: do people in general prefer buying in their native language? The answer is yes. Generally your native language is going to be the more natural option and given the choice most people will opt for this language version.


According to a survey published on Harvard Business Review website consumers definitely prefer information in their native language:

  • 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.


Based on this information, it seems that over half of surveyed consumers are willing to pay more for the products and services as long as the information about them is provided in their preferred language. In addition, 19% of Europeans never browse websites in foreign languages, and 42% of consumers never purchase products or services if the information is not in their native language.


Therefore, if your business is involved in international trade and your marketing collateral is only in English you will pretty much be invisible to a fifth of European market, and roughly 42% of potential buyers will never buy from you.


If you would like to increase your chances of success in overseas markets, then talk to us about your translation needs.

Thanks to our global network of professional translators and interpreters we are able to support over 120 languages and can help you with all your multilingual needs ranging from website and brochure translations, user guide manuals translation even to recording multilingual voice overs for your marketing and training videos.


Do you think marketing collateral is fine in English or should it be localised for specific markets?



Are consumers willing to pay more if the product information is in their native language?

Yes. Research suggests that to over 56% of consumers the information that is translated into their native language is more important than the price.

Do people prefer to browse the internet in their native language?

Yes. It is worth translating your content into multiple languages because over 72% of people most of their time on websites in their native language.

Is it worth to translate e-commerce websites?

Yes. The research suggests that over 42% of Europeans never buy from websites using foreign language. Therefore, you should definitely add translated text to your website to increase sales globally.


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