One third (32%) of millennial consumers in English speaking countries prefer to use a language other than English, and 46% said they are more likely to make a purchase if information is presented in their preferred language, according to a study by SDL. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

These new findings suggest that it is still important for brands to speak to consumers in the language of their choice to improve the overall customer experience, foster brand advocacy, and ultimately drive increased sales.

The report, entitled 'There is Only One Language', featured results from SDL's global survey of more than 1,800 Millennials aged 18-36, and found that language is directly tied to purchasing behaviour - but not always geography - and suggests that marketers need to accept that we live in a multilingual world where customers expect to be communicated with in their own 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 localisation 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 seeking 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.

Regionally, the study found that:

  • 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 US Millennials speak another language at home.

Making language and localisation a priority in the overall marketing strategy is therefore 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 organisation stands when it comes to speaking your customer's language, SDL recommends considering the following strategic ideas:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 localisation strategies grounded in customer engagement preferences for a successful customer experience.
  3. Never have the last word
    Once context (i.e. language, channel, and 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. Research by Common Sense Advisory found that 74% of people are more likely to purchase from the same brand again if the after-sales care is in their own language.

"All too often language is an afterthought in an organisations' customer experience strategy. Marketers now need to address the demands of globalisation and ensure that their business speaks the language of its customers," said Paige O'Neill, CMO for SDL. "Localisation 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."