Unfair competitive advantage: how multilingual brands are taking over the world

By Matinée Multilingual
Back to view all Blogs
Some businesses effortlessly take over several new markets while other businesses find it hard to break out of their local markets. This doesn’t mean that they’re selling the wrong products, it’s simply that consumers in any given market are often motivated to buy a product only when they truly understand the benefits of that product.

This article explores how global brands are using multilingualism to break into new markets.

Why are we are fascinated with global brands? We don’t just wonder what makes them tick or discuss their strategies; we also spend many hours researching these brands. And we ask questions like: Why are they so successful? Why do some products take over the market quicker than others? How do these global brands sweet talk the whole world into loving them?

And most importantly “What are these brands doing that makes them stand out from other brands?”

Language Translation Table - Multilingualism

We also discovered an infographic that shows just how far companies are going to localise their brand name and make them a family brand in several countries.

However, this particular post is about to reveal a vital tool the world’s most successful brands have used to conquer virtually all markets they discover. This method isn’t just helping them conquer new markets; it is also giving them an unfair advantage! So, what is this tool?… Multilingualism!

In our quest to discover what these brands were doing differently, we stumbled upon some interesting facts:

Facts and Figure from Gala (Globalisation and Localisation Association)

  • 56.2% of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.
  • 65% of multinational enterprises believe localisation is either important or very important for achieving higher company revenues.
  • 95 percent of Chinese online consumers indicate greater comfort level with websites in their language.
  • A critical success factor for cross-border merger and acquisition deals is the ability to communicate information clearly and accurately in multiple languages.

Facts and figures from Common Sense Advisory

Here are some interesting facts from an Independent market research firm, Common Sense Advisory, about its annual review of the world’s 2,787 most prominent websites.  These reports were based on a review of 2,787 websites compiled from Alexa Top 500 Global Sites, the Interbrand 100 Best Global Brands, the Forbes Global 2000, and the Fortune 500 lists.

  • Common Sense Advisory found that 60% of these sites were multilingual. The average number of languages used was 8.35, with many major brands offering 30 or more.
  • Businesses that augmented their translation budget were 1.5 times more likely than their Fortune 500 peers to report an increase in their total revenue.
  • Companies with prominent websites offer 33 or more languages. Some of these companies include: Coca-Cola, American Express, Cisco, McDonalds, IBM, Audi, and Microsoft. These grew the amount of capital they carried over from 2012 to 2013 by 12.42%, almost double the amount as companies with fewer than 20 languages.

These facts obviously prove that these brands are doing something right with regards to localisation. Over the years brands have been told that going global successfully all boils down to marketing but these facts show that virtually all global brands use multilingualism as a key tool for breaking into new markets.

Sales are often spurred by even a basic understanding of the brand and if your audience can’t understand what you’re offering, they’re probably not going to purchase your product.

Chinese coca cola Multilingual Brands

If a top brand like Coca-Cola had disregarded the role of multilingualism when breaking into new markets, they would have made the fatal mistake of entering the Chinese market using their original name “Coca-Cola” which means “bite the wax tadpole” in Chinese and they figured this out in 1927! Its transliterated name in Chinese is actually “Ke Kou Ke Le” literally meaning tasty fun.

Let’s take a look at a very important finding by the Common Sense Advisory:

  • Most companies add languages too slowly or too late, in effect “chasing” growth into international markets.

Many brands still consider translation in their budget as unnecessary spending. Sadly, this way of thinking is costing them possibly millions of dollars in global markets. The fact remains that any brand that wants to go global at a large scale must invest in multiple languages before they even start to trade.

Several translation agencies are emphasising the rising awareness of the role of language in building a successful global brand. The demand for services like voice oversubtitling and audio translation has increased radically, alongside consumer demand for video. Any business that aims to make it into the Interbrand 100 Best Global Brands or Alexa Top 500 global sites, must consider multilingualism as an indispensable tool.

You can take your business and website international without having to break the bank. Get in touch with us at Matinée Multilingual to discuss how you can take advantage of multilingualism to break into new markets.

You can also share your views and challenges with us on our Facebook page or via Linkedin.

To find out how we can help your business with professional subtitling, translation, and voiceover services, why not get in touch with us today? We provide services in over 80 languages including French, Italian, Spanish and German voice overs and subtitling.

Email us at
Or call us on +44 (0) 118 958 4934


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *