Unbabel Report Outlines “Native Language Effect” among Consumers

Unbabel, a San Francisco-based language operations platform, has released the results of its 2021 Global Multilingual Customer Experience Report, which breaks down the results of a recently conducted survey on consumer perceptions of brands and their language service offerings.

Probably unsurprisingly, the results of the survey suggest that consumers tend to be much more comfortable interacting with a brand in their native language — 68% of respondents to the survey said they would stop using a given brand’s product or services if they could find another, similar brand that offers customer support in their native language. According to Unbabel, consumers tend to value a multilingual and/or native language-based customer service experience.

“The findings from our 2021 Multilingual Customer Experience Survey prove that multilingual experiences impact customer trust in brands — and it is reflected in their willingness to switch brands for it and pay more,” said Vasco Pedro, Unbabel’s CEO and co-founder. “Respondents believe that less than 50% of brands offer multilingual experiences — that’s a huge gap language operations technology can solve.”

For the report, Unbabel collected responses from 2,745 consumers (i.e., people who had purchased a product or service within the last 12 months prior to completing the survey) in six countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, France, Germany, and Japan.

The results of the survey also note that consumers are willing to pay more to have customer support in their native language — 75% of respondents said they would pay no more than $500 for a brand’s product or service if it did not offer customer support in their native language. Moreover, respondents appeared to feel just as negatively about poorly done translation or localization efforts as they did none at all.

The reason for these responses is fairly straightforward: 44% of respondents said that using their native language helps them to better relate to the brand while 29% said that they simply feel more confident communicating with the brand in their native language.

The report refers to this as the “native language effect” — the notion that consumers are simply more comfortable and confident in their ability to communicate with a given brand in their native language. Representation, diversity, and multilingualism appear to be key values that consumers take into account when doing business with a given brand. As a result, the report suggests that companies — especially those looking to do business globally — ought to seek out language services such as language operations, translation, and localization, so that brands can better connect with their consumers.

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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