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Translations placed today tend to be in preparation for product launches and market growth, giving a strong indication of which emerging economies UK companies are backing, as well as where demand for UK exports is likely to be for the coming 12 to 18 months.
Wolfestone's most recent statistics show France was the most popular destination for UK products in 2012, with translations to French accounting for 18 percent of all translations. German came in second place with 14.2 percent, while Spanish took third place with 10 percent.
This reflects the figures from 2011, where France and Germany held the strongest positions. The continental giants maintained their positions in spite of a Eurozone crisis which has shaken Europe this year - showing that the traditional export markets show no signs of weakening.
The new figures suggest that UK exporters tend to invest in secure markets than in innovative or high-risk markets like those in Asia. This is reflected by the drop in Chinese translations in 2012, as the language fell to rank ten from seventh last year.
Exporting to China demands a high expertise about the Asian market, which could be a major factor in discouraging British companies from investing money there. While there are risks, there are also lots of opportunities when heading for the Chinese market.
The country imported $1.7tr of goods in 2011, and with a growing middle class and strengthening demand for Western products, this figure is only going to rise. Many Western brands are already well-established in China, and those companies that look at exporting now will likely see bigger long-term gains than those that wait longer.
A similar pattern is displayed in investments in the Middle East as the declining figures of Arabic translations show. Arabic translations dropped out of the top ten in 2012, suggesting slowing exports to the region.
The major concern in exporting to these countries is the current political risk. The ongoing riots and political instabilities make it hard for companies to establish themselves, and increase the risk that goes with investing in the region.
Another possible reason for the current trend is that Western products are difficult to localize for the Middle East countries, thus investment for European or British companies might be lost or not efficient.
IKEA recently localized their catalogues for the Middle Eastern market by editing out images of any women, to better target the Middle East. The Western media picked up on the edit, and the company has since apologised. These kinds of negative experiences due to cultures clashing serve as a deterrent for exporting to these markets, particularly in a B2C context.
Portuguese entered the top list instead of Arabic, mainly due to the continued growth in Brazil. The higher demand for Portuguese translations might relate to the success of the London 2012 Olympics, which also showcased the Olympic Games taking place in Brazil in 2016. Companies appear to already be planning their Brazilian investments as the look to capitalize on the new business opportunities and the rising wealth that comes with Olympic games.
The latest figures show that European markets are still resilient and represent a good investment. However the growing opportunities in the BRICS and emerging economies shouldn't be ignored. The fifteen largest cities in China have more than 5 million residents, and six cities in China are larger than London. With talk of a triple-dip recession in the UK, the opportunities abroad have never looked more attractive.
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