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The Importance of Translation in International Trade

How not to be left behind in the global market

Last week saw the Association of Translation Companies’ annual Language Industry Summit take place in Cardiff, which was a great opportunity for us to get together with other industry professionals and attend some really interesting and thought-provoking presentations and masterclasses. The theme for this year’s summit was ‘Changing Landscape: UK language industry 2020 and beyond’.

Everyone speaks English, right?

With Brexit at the forefront of people’s minds, it seemed appropriate that Thursday’s keynote speaker was from the Institute of Export & International Trade. We were shocked to learn that around 60% of UK businesses trading abroad believe that the English language is enough to get them by in a foreign market. As you can imagine, this was a bit of a blow to a room full of translation industry professionals who were all acutely aware of the importance of the local language and culture when it comes to communicating and trading abroad.

But don’t just take our word for it, what evidence is there that you should translate material destined for a foreign language market?

A survey conducted by the independent research firm Common Sense Advisory (CSA) looked to investigate this issue and the report, appropriately named ‘Can’t Read, Won’t Buy’, makes for very interesting reading.

CSA surveyed more than 3,000 consumers in 10 non-Anglophone countries to test the hypothesis that companies can increase sales by localising their products and websites. The survey found that consumers showed a significant preference for the use of their native language and that many were deterred by English language only websites. Unsure of their English reading skills, speakers of other languages were found to spend less time during their visits to English language websites and tended not to buy products that lacked instructions or post-sales customer support in their own language.

In fact, 75% of the consumers surveyed were found to prefer buying products in their own language and 60% rarely or never buy from websites that are English language only. This might come as a surprise to those who believe their business can be truly competitive on the international market relying on English alone. The bottom line: the more local-language content there is throughout the customer experience, the greater likelihood there is of purchase.

Findings of this report are detailed in “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” which can be found here:

Back at the summit, we were interested to hear about the ongoing PhD research on this topic, being carried out as a joint project between the ATC and Aston Business School. The aim of the research is to analyse and quantify the advantages that language skills can bring in a business context. We eagerly await the findings!

Don’t be left behind in the global market!

The summit also got us all talking about the ways in which the translation industry can continue to support companies in their international business endeavours.

Friday’s keynote speaker was a political journalist, speculating about the possible effects of Brexit on the UK’s businesses, particularly as players on the international stage. One thing that is clear is that no matter the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, it is now more important than ever that the UK’s businesses make an effort to ensure they remain present and competitive on the international market.

The English-only trend is shifting, and here at Wessex we are helping more and more businesses reach out to their global customers with websites, marketing materials and product manuals translated into their customers’ local languages.

Many of our clients have already been relying on us for years to translate this type of content into multiple languages, enabling their customers not only to understand the information about the product, but to have a customer experience in line with that designed for the English-speaking audience.

We devote as much care and attention to translating your documents as you did when creating the originals, and seeing how these can help businesses to thrive in the global market makes us really proud to be part of the language industry.

Contact us today and we’d be happy to discuss how we can help.

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