Intercultural Business Strategies News & Views

Cross-Cultural Business Success Tips

Top Languages and Markets on the Internet Today

By Guest Author Cheryl Rettig of

After extensive market research, a thorough examination of the strengths of your business, and determining whether there is a need for your product or service, you have decided you are ready to take your company into international markets. You have also come to realize that people who speak English as their first language comprise less than 30% of all online users. In light of this fact, you know that in order to be successful in your attempts at taking your business global, you will have to localize your websites, documents, and marketing materials. But with all the countries in the world, how do you pinpoint the best market for your business? With all the languages spoken across the globe, how do you determine into which language(s) to localize? With so many options, how do you choose?

The new White Paper from wintranslation, “Potentially Lucrative Global Markets Based on the Top 10 Languages on the Internet,” will provide you with the information to help you determine which languages will give you the most lucrative and speediest return on your translation and localization investment.

According to John Yunker, co-founder of Byte Level Research, the top languages right now are Chinese, Russian, and Portuguese (overall); Spanish (for the U.S. market); French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese (for companies just starting out); and Arabic and Eastern European languages (for companies that already have more than 25 languages). “While English isn’t becoming any less important on the Internet, other languages, such as Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese, are becoming comparatively more important. Web globalization will become increasingly vital to succeeding in this emerging global marketplace.”

Of the almost two billion Internet users worldwide, there are over one billion people on the Internet who view online content in a language other than English because English is not their native language. However, it is not enough to simply know which languages have the highest number of online users. Just because a language has many millions of online users does not necessarily mean that these users will be able to buy your products and services. Though an important clue, the number of online users of a particular language is merely one piece of the puzzle in determining successful localization.

Top 10 Languages on the Internet

There is additional information that should be used to help determine the languages that will allow you to reach the most online customers and increase sales. In “Languages that Matter on the Web” author Aurore Claverie discusses the T-index, a statistical index that ranks languages according to their online purchasing power and identifies “the languages used by the people who will most likely buy from a website or from its advertisers.” This number is written as a percentage and is determined through an analysis of the Internet population of a given language and the GDP per capita of that population.

Based on Internet population and purchasing power (measured by the GDP per capita of the Internet population), the following are the top 10 languages on the Internet today:

1.      English

2.      Simplified Chinese

3.      Japanese

4.      Spanish

5.      German

6.      French

7.      Portuguese

8.      Russian

9.      Arabic

10.  Korean

Source: Translated, Languages That Matter

Localize a website into these top 10 languages and you will be able to tap into 80% of the global purchasing power on the Internet; with the top three (English, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese) you can access 50%. It is information such as this that will help you determine into which language(s) to translate your website. If you plan on entering a foreign market where the majority of people speak one of the top 10 languages, however, your success will depend on more than simply translating or even localizing your websites, documents, software applications, and marketing materials. You must also consider the culture and business etiquette in these markets.

Business Etiquette and Culture

If you own or run a business you know that competition in the business world is fierce. Your company must stand above your competitors in order to attract new customers, successfully tap into global markets, and increase sales. In today’s business environment, one of the best ways to do this is to understand the culture and etiquette necessary to flourish in both business and social situations. Etiquette will help you to be more effective in forming relationships with new clients and retaining old ones, thereby increasing your sales and reputation as an executive or manager who is respectful of people’s culture and country.

Why is etiquette so important for companies planning to enter international markets? Because first impressions matter; they stick with people long after you have left the room. Proper etiquette will help you convey confidence, credibility, competence, and respect in that first meeting and beyond.

“Potentially Lucrative Global Markets Based on the Top 10 Languages on the Internet,” provides helpful tips and examines the basic business etiquette in countries where the top 10 languages are spoken. For each country, you will learn about the following important topics:

  • Important values and personal characteristics
  • Conversations – Suggested Topics and Topics to Avoid
  • Behaviour and Expectations

o   Communication; Greetings; Business Dress/Appearance; Gift-Giving; Dining Etiquette; and Behaviours to Avoid

  • Business Structure, Etiquette, and Relationships

o   Business Meetings and Negotiations; Decision-Making and Hierarchy; Preferred Managerial Qualities; and Business Cards

Please note that this information is intended to provide a general overview of the culture, business etiquette, and customs of particular countries where the top 10 languages are spoken. Much of the information gathered is based on the experiences of individual people who have spent a considerable amount of time in these countries and you may not agree with everything, especially since culture is an extremely complex topic and people within a culture may not always respond the same way or hold the same beliefs as other people within that culture. The information above is therefore simply designed to assist you in preparing for your entry into these foreign markets.

Conduct market research, use the information and tips in this White Paper, and treat with respect all the people you do business with, and you will be on your way to being extremely successful in overseas markets. Since this information is a brief overview of culture and business etiquette in the top 10 online markets, however, it is important that you take the time to do your own research before doing business in a new country or market. This White Paper is simply an excellent resource to help you get started on this process.

White Papers

Designed for businesses looking to successfully expand into international markets, these White Papers are easy-to-read and contain loads of helpful information and tips on the importance of culture in localization projects, language(s) that will provide businesses with the most lucrative and speediest return on their translation and localization investment, and how business owners and executives should conduct themselves in a culturally sensitive manner when doing business in other countries.

“Potentially Lucrative Global Markets Based on the Top 10 Languages on the Internet,” is the new White Paper from wintranslation, a professional translation company providing document and website translation services in over 70 languages. This White Paper examines the importance of culture to your business and how understanding and appreciating culture can impact whether or not your company is successful in selling your products or services in foreign markets. You can download this free White Paper at

About wintranslation

Wintranslation is a professional translation company based in Ontario, Canada. It has been serving clients across North America in over 70 languages since it was established by Huiping Iler in 1998. Wintranslation’s services include document and website translation, glossary development, foreign languages keyword research, translator/copywriter selection and recruitment, multilingual desktop publishing, website quality assurance testing, and comprehensive localization project management.

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