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You’ve created and marketed the neatest widget/product/service in recent memory, and now that you’re entrenched in your own country, you think it’s time to launch the product internationally.

Before you do, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because English is the most spoken language in the world, you won’t have to translate your marketing materials into the language of your next target audience.

Will you make some sales if your international marketing materials are in English? Sure.

Will your international sales be the stuff that legends are made of? Likely not.

And there’s a very simple reason for that: People prefer buying products when they read or hear about them in their native language.

CSA Research (formerly known as Common Sense Advisory) has since 2002 provided primary research focused on global content and language services market. As part of their ongoing “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” series, the group collaborated with Kantar World Panel, a survey specialist, to query – in their native language – nearly 9,000 consumers in 29 countries.

The results? In a nutshell, people in 2020 still prefer consuming information in their native language.

Consider these findings:

  1. 39% of respondents said they prefer to buy from websites in their native language. This number jumped to 67% among respondents who don’t read English well.
  2. If a buyer is considering several products, 66% of respondents said they would choose the product that offered information in their native language. This number jumps to 85% among those who are least competent in English.
  3. Customer support in a buyer’s native language makes 75% of respondents more likely to repeat buy. Even buyers who consider themselves proficient in English lean this way, with 60% of respondents saying they were more likely to repeat buy when customer service was in their language.

What does this mean for you?

You are probably wondering, right about now, what you can do to improve your sales in foreign countries. We’ve already talked about the importance of offering product descriptions and customer service in a buyer’s native tongue. Equally important is providing a translation that is sensitive to the culture and nuances of the market you’re approaching.

Simple translation errors can cause chuckles at best, and lost sales at worst.


When China translated KFC’s “finger lickin’ good” tagline, the result was “eat your fingers off.”

When IKEA introduced a workbench named “Fartfull,” which means “full speed” in Swedish, buyers in the UK enjoyed quite a chuckle.

When Nokia launched its Lumia phone line, they made quite the impression in Spanish-speaking countries where – wait for it! – lumia means prostitute.

Sure, these are humorous examples that may not have hurt sales too much, but they help to underscore the importance of working with experts when translating your sales materials into foreign languages. That’s where we come in. Let Metafraze help you make sure you reach all of your potential customers.

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