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April 18, 2016
As a result of a suffering economy in Spain and historically speaking, the recent termination of the dictatorships across Latin America; the Spanish language can be said to be lagging behind its rivals. With French being used for diplomatic purposes, English the de facto language of business and there being more patents filed in German despite there being fewer speakers shows the full extent of the under-performance of the Spanish language. However, thanks to a growing middle-class and constant economic growth in Latin America the Spanish language may well make a u-turn and gain more international significance. Your business may therefore be missing out on a great deal of potential clients if your business materials and website are only written in the English language. Translating and localizing your business content into Spanish will open the door to a vast Spanish-speaking market which could put your business ahead of the competition and have you reaping the rewards.
Created by English-speakers for English-speakers, the early adopters of the internet were mainly from first-world countries and primarily spoke in English. Nowadays, as technology has become more widespread and readily available even in developing nations, the computer and access to the internet has spread around the world. With the growth in access to the internet, nations with official languages other than English have continued to grow. It is estimated that there are more than 935 million people who identify with a native language other than English, and includes those nations that primarily operate in Spanish. Approximately 3% of the current content on the internet is available in Spanish. By translating and localizing your business message and materials into Spanish, you will gain access to a whole new customer base. Having your business accommodating the online needs of the Spanish-speaking world will allow those people to interact with your business which could potentially translate into the expansion of your business with greater sales.
With over 400 million native Spanish speakers and a further 100 million Spanish speakers in the world, the importance of Spanish is undeniable and the Spanish-speaking market can no longer be ignored by businesses. With a growing middle-class and continuous economic growth in Latin America, the region is also a huge source of raw materials. Investment by the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union and China in Spain and Latin America is beginning to bring Spanish into the business limelight. It is predicted that by 2020, a quarter of the United States’ population will be Hispanic Americans. Translating your content into Spanish will not only give you access to the United States’ fastest growing minority but you will also be able to tap into the third largest population in the world. The Spanish language is also the most common second language meaning an additional 60 million bilingual people have adopted Spanish as their second language, which is a massive population that your business may not be reaching with English-only materials.
The United States has signed a number of Free Trade Agreements with their Latin American neighbours, recognising the buying power of its large Hispanic American population. Recognising the importance of Latin American countries and the growing middle-class, the United Kingdom has also begun to increase commercial operations with free trade agreements. Since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Mexico, bilateral trade between the United Kingdom and Mexico has doubled from nearly USD $2 billion in 2000 to USD $4 billion in 2013. Similarly, Colombia’s economic stability has helped to push the country up to 34th place in the World Bank’s 2014 “Doing Business” index, from 53rd place in 2013. Now sitting above larger economies such as Brazil, Mexico, Belgium and Italy free trade agreements have been pursued aggressively from countries around the world, including the United Kingdom through the European Union, America and Switzerland.
As the power of the Spanish-speaking market continues to grow in importance, many companies are beginning to wake to the need to better serve this demographic. With 50% of business on the internet conducting in a language other than English, customers will feel more comfortable and therefore more likely to buy from a website or interact with a business that can meet the needs of their native tongue. By meeting the requirements of providing a service to Spanish-speakers, your business is also building a sense of trust and brand image that could give you an advantage over your competitors. Due to the internet, the global market is ever-shrinking and if your business is looking to take on international expansion, translating and localizing your business materials, website and information into Spanish must be strongly considered. Multilingual business will soon become the norm for most companies and industries, but the window of opportunity to become a market leader and act before the competition is one that will not stay open forever.
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