Almost half (44%) of global consumers are frustrated by the dominance of the English language on the internet and technology, a new report by RWS has revealed.
The world-leading provider of technology-enabled language, content and IP services questioned 6,500 consumers from 13 countries around the globe to uncover their sentiment and trust towards brands when it comes to appreciating their national identity.
The survey revealed that nine in ten consumers (88%) feel strongly that brands must show their understanding and appreciation of national identity, culture and languages – but only 23% feel brands understand their cultural needs and priorities.
At a time when technology is accelerating global integration of cultures, RWS’s research shows that consumers are looking to maintain connections with their local culture and emphasize their national identity.
When it comes to national identity, 71% of people told RWS they identify and take great pride in their nation’s history, culture and language.
This peaks at 94% for Indians, 91% for Kenyans, 90% for Nigerians and 90% for Ghanaians, with a significant proportion of people from Britain (75%) and the USA (73%) proud of their national identity too. What’s more, the research shows it’s the younger generation leading the way in celebrating their heritage, with almost half of consumers aged 18-34 expressing a great deal of pride in national identity and culture (49%).
The trust consumers hold towards brands is influenced by their knowledge and understanding of national and local cultures. Yet only 6% of consumers in Japan, 7% in South Korea, 12% in France and 15% in Germany and 17% in the UK feel that brands actually demonstrate this local understanding and appreciation. Interestingly, this sentiment rises to over half for all Indian consumers (56%).
Maria Schnell, chief language officer at RWS, said: “Globalisation is softening national borders and creating an international marketplace without boundaries. Its core enabler is technological innovation, which is in theory facilitating the rise of a global community. However, as RWS’s ‘Unlocking Global Understanding’ research demonstrates, this seems to be contributing to cultural homogenisation, led by the dominance of the English language.
“Our findings show the importance of local cultures, communities and languages in the formation of people’s identities. For the most part, consumers feel international brands are taking a generalised approach and failing to recognise the cultural nuances which consumers highly value.
“Brands need to respect culture and context when engaging with different audiences. This appreciation will open up their access to local communities, lead to the exchange of culture and ideas and ultimately contribute to the rise of a global, yet culturally diverse community of consumers. After all, it is our differences which define us.”