Can you read Chinese? I suggest you find a way. Or find a way to get your message, your product information, and your Web site into Chinese.
It's estimated that by 2015 China will have a middle class twice the size of the entire US—more than 600 million people—with disposable incomes. Even with our current recession, China could generate $860 billion in retail sales in 2009, according to Wikinvest.
How about Hindi, Bengali, or any of the scores of languages spoken in India? The billion-strong population is experiencing a similar jump in middle-class wealth. India's middle class is expected to grow to 40 percent, from just 5 percent, to make it the fifth largest consumer market in the world in 2025. In 2005, private spending reached about 17 trillion Indian rupees ($372 billion).
I haven't even mentioned Spanish (spoken by 350 million inside and outside the US), German (the largest country in Europe, excluding Russia, and one of the world's strongest economies), or Japanese (a top worldwide exporter with a consumer culture that's equally famous worldwide).
Speaking their languages is good business in any kind of economic climate. And now, with worldwide recession, I'd be safe in saying surviving—and even thriving—hinges on effectively reaching out to the world's non-English speaking consumers.
Many companies already recognize the value of translations for reaching that vast worldwide audience. They've been having product information, press releases, and marketing and advertising copy converted into the languages of their current and potential customers for years.
But smart companies realize that to strike a chord with more buyers, they'll have to "localize" their messages so that audiences will feel that everything about an electronic or printed communication has been produced by someone just like them. Not only is the text in their language (with proper idioms and slang), but the graphics, navigation buttons and user interface are familiar. In short, nothing hinders the flow of information—or elicits a chuckle.