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How Does Tolerance for Bad Multilingual Brand Experiences Vary Around the World?

Shoppers around the world have different habits and preferences when it comes to choosing the brands they purchase from, how they conduct their purchase, and how they prefer to interact with brands if they have questions or need assistance. So it’s no surprise that global shoppers also have different expectations when it comes to what those brands provide in the way of multilingual experiences and multilingual customer support. 

In our recent 2021 Global Multilingual CX Report we spoke to thousands of consumers across the US, UK, Brazil, France, Germany, and Japan to uncover what they want from brands, and how well they think global brands are currently suiting their needs. Below are some of our biggest takeaways and most surprising country-specific insights.

Customers want to shop with global brands, especially in Brazil and France

It’s clear that customers are becoming accustomed to interacting with and buying from global brands. In fact, our survey found that roughly half (47%) of products purchased by respondents are from brands that are not native to their country. 

In certain countries, we saw a significant rise in the willingness to purchase from brands located elsewhere — especially if that brand markets their products or services in a customer’s native language. 95% of Brazilian and 76% of French consumers are very likely or likely to purchase from a new brand that markets products or services in their native language. In Brazil, 84% of respondents even indicated that they would pay more for a product or service if a brand offers a customer experience in their native language. That’s a huge opportunity for any business that hopes to tap the Brazilian market — consumers are certainly willing to spend!

US consumers won’t spend as much with brands who don’t offer native language experiences

In addition to just marketing products and services in their native language, two in three global customers believe it’s extremely or very important that brands offer an end-to-end customer experience in their native language. In Brazil, that number rises once again to an astonishing 89% of respondents that want multilingual experiences.

There’s a high price to pay if your brand doesn’t prioritize native language experiences, too. Our survey found that two in three global customers would switch to a different brand if the one they were shopping with didn’t offer support in their native language. Respondents in the US are particularly unforgiving. They indicated that brands could lose a solid chunk of change from them for this misstep, with 75% of US consumers saying that brands could lose up to $500 per customer for lack of native-language customer support. 

Global customers seek out native language experiences for a variety of reasons

Why is it so important for brands to offer multilingual experiences and customer support? The answer varies by country:

  • For consumers in Brazil (45%) and Japan (32%), native language experiences show them that a brand has empathy. 

  • In the US, nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers will go so far as to say they consider it a bias when brands don’t offer customer experiences in multiple languages.

Across the board, customers around the world consistently cited lack of representation and diversity and inclusion as key challenges brands face when they try to localize content and provide native experiences. Interestingly, French consumers say stereotyping and use of controversial imagery are among the top five concerns with global brands offering localized experiences. 

Japanese and UK consumers won’t tolerate poor support

When it comes to customer support in their native language, some countries expressed more willingness to forgive brands than others. Japanese consumers have the least tolerance for poor support: 43% say they’ll completely stop buying from a brand after the first negative experience in their native language. Consumers in the UK are tough critics as well. Only 29% of respondents in the UK indicated that they are very likely or likely to forgive poor customer service in their native language. The stakes are high in both of these markets.

Germany, on the other hand, is a bit more forgiving — 52% of consumers are willing to give a brand three or more chances. 

Brazil is also somewhat forgiving. 92% of Brazilian consumers say they’d be somewhat to very loyal to a brand if customer support was offered in their native language (and 88% say they’d switch to a new brand that offers support in their language!). And it’s okay if that support isn’t always perfect. 58% of consumers in Brazil say they’re likely to very likely to overlook poor customer service if it's at least in their native language.

If you’re using this data to improve your customer support functions, keep in mind that the type of support forums and channels preferred by consumers varies by country:

  • Native-language email communication is a top priority for consumers in Germany and Japan.

  • Consumers from Japan and France say they want more multilingual human interactions and automated support in their native language.

How to meet the multilingual experience needs of global customers

Although some countries may express more of a desire for native language experiences, or more tolerance for poor support, the bottom line is this: In order to expand your customer base and sustain brand loyalty you need to provide multilingual customer experiences and support for all of your customers. That can be a daunting ask when you look at all of the markets — and potential markets — you serve, but AI-based tools like Unbabel make the job infinitely easier. 

Ready to meet the needs of your global customer base? Get a demo of Unbabel today.

About the Author

Sophia Malina is the Head of Customer Success at Unbabel, an AI-powered Language Operations platform that helps businesses deliver multilingual support at scale. With a demonstrated history in customer success and the internet industry, she leads the team by establishing and building customer relationships to promote customer retention, trust, and loyalty.