language-familiesThe value of localization and translation seems to be clear to most international companies so far. There are many success stories of global brands which have conquered new markets country by country. In fact, country and state borders have traditionally defined market areas. Today, when consumption is shifting more and more to the internet, this idea feels outdated.

The internet doesn’t recognize state borders. When you’re surfing around the web you don’t know in which country the site is located. The new online shopping experiences change our offline shopping behavior too. The offering is almost unlimited so we don’t have to settle for products and services that don’t feel right.

The purpose of localization is to translate a product or a service to fit to the local market. The traditional way of looking at a country as a market isn’t efficient anymore. There’s a countless amount of sub-groups in every country. Actually, the right way to say it is that there are a countless amount of groups around the world. Location doesn’t determine anymore which group you belong to. This is why state borders shouldn’t have remarkable role in companies’ localization decisions.

People don’t think the same way even if they represent the same location, language, race or religion. Their values come from the culture. The values direct the consumption behavior. For example, many people who are interested in computers and software and technology prefer using English programs. They are used to the English vocabulary and terms. Localized programs just confuse them. In contrast, there are also many people who also use computers and technology a lot in their work and spare-time but they like to choose only programs that speak their own language. It’s more effortless to them to use their mother tongue. The rest of us land somewhere between these two extremes.

Globalization hasn’t made the world as one huge market but it has decreased the relevance of state borders. People will always have all the options just a few clicks away. This complicates localization incentives: companies have to find out what their target customers truly want.


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