In Translation/Localization

Is localization considered a money eater or a money gainer? Where does localization reside in the profit and loss (income) statement? Is there a return on localization investment? How effective can an international business be without globalization?

We have seen localization as a part of marketing, sales, product development, customer service, or all of them together. In all cases, localization is a cost element recorded in the expenses part of the P&L statement. The question we are about to answer is whether localization deserves a spot on the profit side of the P&L.  But before reaching an answer, we better start with analyzing localization as a cost element.


It is essential to include localization in marketing campaigns to create awareness about new products in an existing market or when entering new markets. Budgeting localization as a marketing cost is the popular choice here. But how successful could this marketing activity be if conducted in a non-local language, even if this language is English? Yes, some people may understand English, but what about the majority?

56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.[1]

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.Nelson Mandela


In order to make international sales more effective, you may need to create a localized website, demos, presentations, proposals, collateral, and videos. That is quite an investment, but can you do international business without them? Some may say yes. Those who do need to compare their business to competitors and locals providing similar or alternative products like theirs in local languages.

72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language.[2]

Everyone hears only what he understands.” Goethe

“Is the market ready for our product?”  This is a basic question often sought after in marketing research. Based on your research, you can identify when the market is ready for your product. However, you must then ask, “is the product ‘ready’ for that specific market?” and “is the product culturally assessed and adapted?” If your product doesn’t include related documentation and packaging for that market, then the answer is no.

Customer Service

The last globalization/localization cost element is customer service. In many cases, you’re required to service customers in their own language, in either a written or a verbal format. Providing this kind of service could be subject to local legal regulations, or part of your market research and customer satisfaction. What could be the cost of not providing this service? Or not providing it in a local language? If your customers cannot assemble, use, troubleshoot, and/or maintain your product because the instructions are not available in their language, how satisfied will they be with their purchase? In today’s “on-line rating/review of everything” culture, how many other customers could their frustrated review cost you?

Let’s Back Up

It’s clear from our review of localization-related cost elements that localization will obviously appear in the expenses part of the P&L statement. Now the question is whether we should represent localization in the revenues part? Do globalization and localization generate profits? We believe the answer is “yes.”

Localization is similar to any other investment. When you invest in localization, then a return on investment is expected. You can quantify, qualify, and justify your return on localization in different ways:

  1. Revenues earned through localizing marketing, sales, and products in different countries;
  2. Market share gained in the short- and long-term;
  3. Competitive advantage gained through learning about local markets and local customer pain points, needs and wants;
  4. Avoiding the direct and indirect costs of improper localization, from re-doing a marketing campaign to loss of profits due to low sales; and
  5. Cost analysis data gained to better predict future costs of entering a market dominated by localized competing products and/or local products.

Vocalink Global specializes in helping you build a localization strategy to help your business succeed. By partnering with us, we’re able to help you make the right investment from the start to ensure your localization efforts remain a profit element. Connect with us today to learn more! 



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