February 2019

The most multilingual brands across 37 industries

How many languages do leading global brands speak online? For the past 11 years, independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research) has studied the world’s most prominent websites to identify the multilingual leaders of the global web.

These business and consumer websites represent the biggest companies, most popular websites, and most valuable brands based on Forbes Global 2000, Brand Finance Global 500, Alexa Top Sites, Mozilla Top 500, and others. 

Based on CSA Research’s proprietary methodology, the data, findings, and analysis are detailed in the firm’s report, "Global Website Assessment Index 2019" and further expanded upon in "Top Target Languages by Vertical Sector: 2019" which examines language flows by industry. 


"The Global Website Assessment Index 2019" documents languages and social network links on 2,817 of the world’s most prominent websites in 37 industry sectors. The report includes 37 data-rich graphics displaying the relative popularity of languages and social networks found on each sector’s leading websites – and whether the language is a source or target.

It reaffirms the position of English as the global lingua franca, but also shows the rapid rise of Chinese and the continued concentration of website localization into core economic languages even as the long tail seen on the most multilingual sites expands. These central languages are becoming must-haves as sites expand, with increasing numbers required for enterprises to be seen as globally competitive. The research also reflects the increasing prominence of languages, such as Indonesian and Hindi, that CSA Research predicts are on the cusp of a period of hyper-growth.

The study found that the top three multilingual industries all involve companies with significant R&D requirements and consumable products. Industries that consistently deploy the greatest average number of languages include Automotive, Computer and Electronics, and Consumer Goods. Conversely, the most multilingual brands fall in the social networking and online services categories, even though overall averages in these categories are lower. Leading the way are Google (146 languages), Facebook (141 languages), and Vkontakte (85 languages). 

The companion piece, "Top Target Languages by Vertical Sector: 2019," looks specifically at the top target languages for sites, by sector, authored in English versus those authored in other languages. It includes a data file that allows clients to explore specific language pairs in individual industries or combinations of industries.

Dr. Arle Lommel, senior analyst at CSA Research comments, "Every year, enterprises try to calibrate their language strategy to achieve the best return on investment and to position themselves competitively in a global market. Our comprehensive and proprietary research is especially valuable as they benchmark their language performance against leading competitors and decide where to make strategic investments to grow their markets. The research enables global organizations to make informed decisions on language choice and selection."

www.commonsenseadvisory.com