(April 2014) – Based on a survey of more than 3,000 global consumers in 10 non-Anglophone countries in Europe, Asia, and South America, 75% prefer to buy products in their native language. In addition, 60% rarely or never buy from English-only websites. These findings, and hundreds of other global online consumer buying preferences, are detailed in “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: 2014,” a new report by independent research firm Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research).
The 10-nation survey, which included Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Turkey, was conducted in the official language of each country. Specifically, the research assessed online language preferences and their subsequent impact on purchasing decisions. Factors including nationality, English-language proficiency, global brand recognition, and the ability to conduct transactions in local currencies were included in the study.
Common Sense Advisory Chief Strategy Officer and founder Don DePalma concludes the findings of this study have great significance to global businesses. “There is a longstanding assumption that enough people on the web feel comfortable using English, especially when buying high-tech or expensive products. Our research in 2006 proved that 72.4% of consumers surveyed were more likely to buy products in their native language. Our 2014, larger-scale behavioral study of consumers again validates this preference and, in fact, concludes this demand is increasing, with a full 75% of respondents saying they want the products in their native language.”
The research also shows that nationality increases the demand for local-language content in online transactions. The percentage of those who buy only at local-language websites jumps to more than 70% of consumers in Japan. France and Turkey are among the countries with more than half of survey-takers favoring purchases at properties in their language.
Additional findings detailed in the report include:
- 30% of the 3,002 respondents never buy at English-language sites, and another 29% rarely do.
- Across the 10-country sample, 56% either spend more time on sites in their own language than they do in English, or boycott English-language URLs altogether.
- Details on the likelihood of consumers purchasing from English-language websites across 19 categories of services and products. The study found that automotive and financial services are the products that consumers are least likely to buy if the website is not in their native language.
- Exactly half would prefer that at least the navigation elements and some content appear in their language, and another 17% strongly share that preference. This finding contradicts the conventional industry wisdom that you should localize everything or nothing.
- Global brands can trump language, causing buyers to choose such products over those with information in their own language. Egyptians constitute the nationality that is most infatuated with global brands (83% agree or strongly agree with the statement). Those least won over are the Germans (56%).
- There is more to cross-border purchasing behaviors than language. Privacy, payment methods, delivery, and customs are major components of a localization strategy and can affect the global online experience. Egyptian and Turkish respondents were most concerned about sites asking for personal information.
“Considering the data from our survey, there should be no question about localizing your website and product information if you want to sell more goods or services to global customers,” concludes DePalma. “Localization improves customer experience and increases engagement in the brand dialogue. It should be a rigorously planned and executed business strategy for any company looking to grow internationally.”
In related research, also just published, CSA Research identified best and worst practices in online customer experience (Global CX) for highly globalized websites. This study of 181 prominent websites fielding 21 or more languages also serves as the basis for ranking the global customer experience of the top 100 most globalized websites. Inquire about “Optimizing the Global Customer Experience” and “The Top 100 Global Websites for 2014.”
The reports are published as part of the firm’s syndicated research membership. For more information, visit www.commonsenseadvisory.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reports are available to qualified members of the media. For additional information about this report or to arrange a one-on-one briefing with Don DePalma, please contact Melissa Gillespie at 760-522-4362 or Melissa@commonsenseadvisory.com.
About Common Sense Advisory
Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research) is an independent market research company helping companies profitably grow their international businesses and gain access to new markets. It specializes in best practices for translation, localization, interpreting, globalization, and internationalization. www.commonsenseadvisory.com.
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