European Web Users Demand Local Language Sites
By Ben Rooney
One of the obstacles for European entrepreneurs in doing business in Europe is language. The latest EuroBarometer survey from the European Union, suggests that localizing content is key for success, although at a push, having an English version of the site may—just—be enough to scrape by.
Not surprisingly 90% of European users when given a choice of languages, always visited a website in their own language. However a slim majority (53%) would accept using an English version of a website if it was not available in their own language.
But don’t expect users to be happy. More than 4 in 10 (44%) EU Internet users thought they missed interesting information because websites were not available in a language they understood. In Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Cyprus, Spain and Greece, this figure rose to between 51%-60%.
In 23 of the 27 EU Member States, at least half of Internet users used a language other than their own to read and watch content on the Internet; this proportion ranged from 50% in Hungary to 90%-93% in Greece, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus.
In Italy, the Czech Republic, Ireland and the U.K., a majority of users said that they only used their own language to read and watch content on the Internet (between 52% and 85%).
When looking at what people did on line in a foreign language, news and tourism dominated the findings. In almost all E.U. states, a majority of respondents said that they used a language other than their own when searching for or buying products (e.g. online shopping) and services (e.g. tourism). Romania, Belgium and Bulgaria were the only countries where less than half of the respondents said they conducted these online activities in a foreign language (41%-48%), while respondents in Malta and Cyprus were the most likely to say so (80% and 85%, respectively).
Poor, or no, translation represents a wasted business opportunity. Across the 27 states, fewer than one in five (18 per cent) of users say they would frequently or always buy products in a foreign language.