Research has shown that consumers respond more favourably to messages that they receive in their native language. However, brands – both large and small – need to invest in making sure their multilingual campaigns go beyond translation.
In South Africa, which boasts 11 official languages, only 8% of South Africans actually speak English at home. Native English speakers make up just 25% of global Internet users. When brands limit their marketing strategies to just one language, both in domestic and foreign markets, they could be losing out on a great opportunity to connect with potential customers.
However, a direct translation of a marketing campaign from one language to another isn’t sufficient. Brands must listen – as well as speak – authentically to their consumers if they would like them to engage with the brand’s message.
Why Brands Don’t Connect With Consumers
When brands don’t connect with consumers whose first language is not English, it’s because of cutting corners in areas where more in-depth work is needed. When budgets are tight and everyone is busy, translation becomes an afterthought.
People could say, ‘Well, these individuals speak English [well] enough, so we’ll just keep [our content] in English.’ … You could still get a good outcome out of that, however, you’re very likely not going to. If you would like your user to understand your message, you need to talk to them in the language that’s theirs.