Localization and the Unspoken Hurdle to Global Expansion

Language barriers present significant hurdles to global business expansion by impeding effective communication and comprehension among stakeholders and customers in new markets. Without the proper planning and tools, translation-related challenges can hinder a company’s ability to convey product information, marketing messages, and customer support effectively. This lack of clear communication may lead to confusion, disengagement, and ultimately, alienation of potential customers. 

by Pamela Ghosal

To succeed in the global marketplace, companies must be prepared to overcome these kinds of challenges at the outset of their international expansions. Delaying this could lead to significant problems arising at a critical stage. Technology innovation has improved translation capabilities in recent years, but most business leaders still say language barriers are a challenge when it comes to business expansion efforts. Let’s examine how the proper approach and tools can help global enterprises bridge communication gaps and enable seamless international growth. 

Understanding the Language Barrier to Global Growth

A recent global survey conducted by Censuswide for Phrase, involving 2,000 business leaders, reveals that 90 percent of companies are poised for expansion into new, linguistically diverse markets within the next five years. Despite this ambition, over half of the respondents (57 percent) acknowledge language barriers as a significant hurdle to their expansion efforts. A notable 59 percent of these leaders specifically point out the adaptation of marketing content as a challenging aspect of navigating these expansions.

Successfully navigating language barriers in new markets goes beyond mere translation. Success in new markets, particularly where different languages are spoken, requires a strong localization strategy that addresses not only language barriers, but also broader communication and strategic challenges. The survey findings indicate that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of global business leaders have faced instances where the lack of translation and localization has negatively impacted their business. This high rate of negative impact is untenable. Fortunately innovative approaches, tools, and partners are helping to address this challenge head-on. 

Advances in Localization to Overcome Global Expansion Challenges

Localization, at its core, is the adaptation of products or content to fit the cultural, linguistic, and technical nuances of specific markets. A truly comprehensive localization solution ensures linguistic precision, cultural sensitivity, technical compatibility, and regulatory adherence. However, in today’s dynamic global landscape, flexibility is equally critical. It ensures adaptability to market shifts and scalability for companies targeting multiple geographies simultaneously. As businesses aim to tap into the interconnected world, a localization strategy that merges comprehensiveness with flexibility becomes indispensable. 

Advancements in AI and LLMs are revolutionizing the pace and effectiveness of translation and localization, while ensuring human resources are being applied to the most business-critical needs. Achieving this balance is crucial as businesses make decisions on which tools to lean on when planning for global expansion.

Given the rapid progress in technology, business leaders should also reconsider their current technology stack to advocate for an even tighter integration of all localization efforts. By bringing together teams and processes under one platform, they can create a unified environment that encourages seamless team collaboration, efficient asset management, and continuous delivery. Such alignment is key to overcoming language and localization barriers when expanding into new markets. An enterprise-grade translation and localization platform will not only help you streamline existing workflows but also empower your team. They can concentrate on areas where their linguistic and technical expertise can make the most impact—such as building connections with other stakeholders to drive the company’s strategic growth.

Pamela Ghosal is Director, Brand and Communications at Phrase.

Photo by USGS on Unsplash

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