Exploring the translation market in Russia

Konstantin Dranch
Multilingual January/February 2017
Core Focus

As a language, Russian is one of the most prominent on the internet, holding the eighth spot in total number of users. However, in financial terms the market is disproportionately small. It might be less than $200 million a year.

The latest annual research by translationrating.ru puts the total revenue of large LSPs at $132 million. This figure includes comprehensive data from company surveys, official tax registry and interviews with CEOs. It features not only publicly-known companies, but also defense contractors and captive operators that normally don’t promote themselves as much....

In practice, rates on the internal Russian market are lower, and Russian companies need the increased level of profitability to stay in business. In absolute figures, not percentages, they would earn the same or less than their French colleagues on a project of the same size. For example, if a French LSP translates 100,000 words and charges 0.12 euros per word, and then adds on a 14% profit margin, they would end up with 1,680 euros in profit. Conversely, if a Russian LSP translates 100,000 words and charges 0.03 euros per word, and then adds on a theoretically much larger 25% profit margin, they will end up with 750 euros in profit — less than half of the French LSP’s profit.

When selling translation services from Russia to overseas customers, companies would charge much more, but they typically also employ more workflows with more steps and more complex quality control, driving up their cost....