Most U.S. executives, partly due to their monolingual upbringing (only 18% of Americans speak more than one language, versus 56% of Europeans according to research from the European Commission), do not fully grasp the benefits and complexities of translation. As a result, they compromise on translation because they view it as a commodity, which negatively influences decisions regarding it that are driven by price, rather than the need and value. However, one thing that executives overlook is that due to the changing dynamics brought about by globalization, the benefits of professional translation cannot be overemphasized. It is a small investment that has the potential to reap enormous gains.
Reaping the Benefits of a Translation Agency Service
According to Brannen, Piekkari & Tietze, “language lies at the heart of international business (IB) activities”. However, many U.S. companies have not acknowledged and taken advantage of the fact that most of the web content in this day and age, is not in English. Some executives, believe that local translation services will not be of importance to the companies they run, and such line of reasoning is flawed, considering that most of the people on the internet do not speak English as their first language. According to recent studies, only 30% of internet users are native English speakers. An analysis of the data reveals that companies that do not invest in translation, are not maximizing on the opportunity of promoting business growth through translation. The U.S. Committee on Economic Development (CED) suggests that American businesses lose more than $2 billion a year to language or cultural misunderstandings. Furthermore, research has found that the decision to buy a product is highly influenced by language. 75% of internet users make purchasing decisions if the description of the product is in a language, which they can speak.
A recent study focused on 3,002 consumers from 10 countries and their native languages, and was geared towards testing the hypothesis that companies stand to increase their sales through the localization of their websites and products. The findings were that consumers prefer being communicated to in their mother tongues. The implications of the findings, are that many potential clients can choose not to visit an English-language website, due to the difference in language. The issue of language, also leads to people spending less time during visits, and contributes to less sales because consumers end up not buying products, due to not understanding the instructions, or not being able to understand the benefits of post-sales customer support in their native language.
The general deduction from the research, is that localization throughout the whole experience of a consumer increases the likelihood of customers buying a product. Business requires analyzing the market and adopting strategies that work. In the case of translation, an analysis of the market reveals that translation offers a good return on investment.
Large companies have benefited from translation, which has led to big profits. Examples of companies that have embraced the need for translation are Microsoft, Toshiba, Apple, and Coca-Cola. Microsoft has successfully translated products into more than 90 foreign languages. Toshiba has translated in 30 languages, whereas Apple has translated in 40 languages. The outcomes for this move have been an increase in market share and revenue in the U.S. and foreign markets.
Translation and Fortune 500 Companies
Richard Wagoner, the former CEO and President of General Motors, fully supported the need to learn other languages. He relayed that learning Portuguese when he was on business in Brazil, was beneficial because it was able to help him work efficiently with the Brazilian business community. Douglas Daft, the former CEO and Chairman of the Coca-Cola Company, also supported the idea of taking into account the culture of the consumers. Viewpoints of such former executives, support the fact that localization is an integral part of business that can contribute to success and dominance in the market.
Professional translation is necessary with the expansion of the internet, and the preference of consumers for content in their native language creates the need for translation services. When evaluating the value of translation, investing in a U.S. translation agency is undeniably a good option.
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