Cookies on Zenoot

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. More info

3 minute read

Insight: Can language shape customer behaviour and boost exports?

Research indicates that whatever the sector, B2B and B2C customers interact differently with online services depending on the available language options. Shaping the way the customer traverses through the buying journey, statistics show that people prefer to buy products and services in their native language. Furthermore, does language and location facilitate export growth? Ben Whittacker-Cook from Straker Translations explains more.


73% of customers are more likely to buy from companies with information translated into their first language, according to the translation industry’s leading research group. In the same way people prefer to communicate in their local language, the natural next-step is that people also prefer to browse, buy and sell online in their own language, too.
Source: Common Sense Advisory


An estimated 90% of internet users in the European Union’s member states say they prefer to use websites in their native language, and browsing and buying habits differ from country to country. For example, 49% of customers in the UK prefer click-and-collect as a more convenient pick-up option to home delivery, while just 27% of German consumers prefer this option.
Source: PwC

Did you know – 70% of UK exporters across all sectors have no foreign-language ability in the countries in which they operate / Picture: Getty/iStock



English is still the internet’s lingua franca, but 30% of online consumers never buy from English-language sites, and another 29% rarely do, as it’s easier to browse key product information, price and product descriptions and payment and delivery options.
Source: Common Sense Advisory


Of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), only China was viewed as a premier manufacturing country in 2016. However, manufacturers are advised to focus new export activities on the five Asia-Pacific nations of Malaysia, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Studies indicate expected to be included into the top 15 nations on manufacturing competitiveness over the next five years.
Source: Deloitte Global Survey


Expect Canada to slip out of the global top ten manufacturers soon enough. China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India are expected to factor in the top 10 manufacturing nations by 2020 – leaving only two native English-speaking manufacturing countries in the global top ten – the US and the UK.
Source: Deloitte Global Survey


A lack of language skills costs the UK economy around £48bn (3.5% of GDP) annually. Hampering small-to-medium-sized exporters who cannot employ language professionals and also deters non-exporters from trading overseas as the gap grows between entering new markets and building customer relationships.
Source: Department of Business, Innovation and Skills


B2B companies failing to profile their customers will find it hard to remain competitive, as the retention of existing clients becomes as important as the acquisition of new ones. 71% of B2B companies are at risk of losing customers by not being fully engaged with the companies they do business with.
Source: Gallup


This may explain why 44% of European Internet users feel they are missing interesting information because web pages are not in a language that they understand and only 18% buy products online in a foreign language.
Source: European Commission


As of 2015, The EU Machinery Directive states:All machinery must be accompanied by instructions in the Official Community language or languages of the Member State in which it is placed on the market and/or put into service. The instructions accompanying the machinery must be either ‘Original instructions’ or a ‘Translation of the original instructions’,’ enabling export opportunities for 28 member countries to more than 500 million consumers.


70% of UK exporters across all sectors have no foreign-language ability in the countries in which they operate – despite one in four British companies being foreign-owned.
Source: The British Chamber of Commerce and The Independent