SDL Millennial Study Reveals Language Strategy is Critical to Enhancing Customer Experience Success

Data unveils 46% of millennials more likely to purchase if information is in their preferred language

Wakefield, MA
6/23/2014 4:30:40 PM

According to a new study released by SDL (LSE: SDL) today, 32 percent of millennial consumers in English speaking countries prefer a language other than English, and 46 percent are more likely to purchase if information is presented in their preferred language. These new findings demonstrate that it is imperative for brands to speak to consumers in the language they desire to improve the overall customer experience, foster brand advocacy and ultimately drive increased sales.

SDL’s fourth report of the “Five Truths for Future Marketers” series is titled “There is Only One Language”, and features results from SDL’s global survey of more than 1,800 millennials (ages 18-36). The data indicates that language is directly tied to purchasing behavior, but is not always tied to geography, and calls on marketers to realize that we live in a multilingual world where customers expect to be communicated with in their preferred language.

Today’s millennials are part of the “always-connected” generation and therefore expect content to be delivered to them across devices, channels and in the language they prefer. For brands, a localization strategy can drive both international business expansion and engagement in domestic markets if done correctly by joining the customers’ culture and conversation, rather than just selling into markets. Marketers looking to create a compelling and engaging customer experience need to leverage customer data to ensure the language strategy accounts for preference rather than just location when it comes to the buyer. SDL research finds:

  • 1 in 2 respondents in Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway speak a language other than the local language in their household 

  • 1 in 3 respondents in the UK and Australia speak a language other than English at home

  • 1 in 4 U.S. millennials speak another language at home

SDL customer Accor, the world’s leading hotel operator, recently addressed the need to prioritize and centralize the translation process within their organization. Serving over 92 countries across the globe, their need to communicate with customers in cultural context is a cornerstone within their customer experience strategy.

“With around 3,600 hotels and over 460,000 rooms, we interact with customers from around the world constantly, and at every level of our organization,” said Bénédicte Lefeuvre, VP Distribution Systems Administration at Accor. “With the help of SDL, we are translating over 20 million words a year to ensure that our customers receive the quality experience they have come to expect from our organization. Brand loyalty and customer advocacy are integral to our overall marketing strategy. The ability to communicate appropriately with our consumers, and even our employees around the world, with the help of SDL’s language solutions, allows us to provide a unique and personal experience for each of our guests.” Making language and localization a priority in the overall marketing strategy is a critical first step for brands to gain a competitive advantage. In order to reach international audiences, increase sales and generate brand loyalty, there is only one language that matters – the customer’s language. To gauge where your organization stands when it comes to speaking your customer’s language, consider the following:

  • Speak up – A language and cultural content strategy must be a fundamental component of your overall marketing plan. Local language websites, ad hoc and last-minute fixes are not nearly enough. You need to be wherever your customers are and have the ability to engage with them in a culturally relevant manner. 

  • Don’t assume you are “Talking the Talk” – As the millennial research indicates, consumers live in multilingual settings, even within the same country, and they prefer to engage with brands in the language that’s most relevant to them. Marketers must have localization strategies grounded in customer engagement preferences for a successful customer experience. 

  • Never have the last word – Once context (language, channel, device) is understood and established with customers, expand the relationship well beyond the basics of pre-sales, purchase and support. Creating transparency and accessibility to a wide range of self-service assets encourages customers to come back for more, keeping your brand top-of-mind. According to recent research from Common Sense Advisory’s report “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy”, 74 percent of people are more likely to purchase from the same brand again if the after-sales care is in their language.

“All too often, language is an afterthought in an organizations’ customer experience strategy,” said Paige O’Neill, CMO at SDL. “Marketers now need to address the demands of globalization and ensure that their business speaks only one language – the language of its customers. Localization strategies must be adopted to address translation at a local level, but also the personal demographics of its target audience. In doing so, consumers will be compelled to share content and foster brand advocacy in their language of choice, giving marketers a competitive advantage and the ability to deliver the customer experience that truly defines their brand’s voice, globally.”

To learn more about SDL’s “There is Only One Language” Truth, download the infographic. For more information on the recently announced SDL Language Cloud and to learn how to leverage and optimize language as part of the digital experience, join the upcoming SDL webinar on June 24, 2014 by registering here.

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