Irish e-commerce sites need to focus on non-English speakers

30 Sep 2011

Irish businesses and brands are failing to capitalise on the vast spending power of non-native English-language internet consumers, according to European blog empire Populis.

According to Populis’s research, there are 3.1m Irish internet users who spend €6.1bn online, where Germany, France and Italy have more than 150m internet users spending in excess of €78bn.

Populis commissioned economist group Cebr to assess current levels of consumer internet spend globally. The research shows how non-native English speakers already make up the vast majority (84pc) of global internet users and already spend far more than English speakers.

“As a key part of Ireland’s skills base, we cannot lose sight of the importance of Ireland’s long-standing history of foreign-language skills compared to our other native English-speaking counterparts, particularly when it comes to our tourism industry,” Joan Mulvihill, CEO of the Irish Internet Association said.

The importance of our ability to reach out to foreign markets in their own language, but in a uniquely Irish way, is imperative to our industries’ growth and success.”

Key findings included:

·         1.7bn of the 2bn global internet users are non-native English speaking.

·         Non-native English speaking consumers spent €262bn online in 2010 – €93bn more than English speakers.

·         The average non-native English-speaking internet user is online 48 minutes per day and spends an average of €152 per year.

·         The average English-speaking internet user is online 60 minutes per day and spends on average of €526 per year

·         Internet usage rates in English-speaking countries are close to saturation with 72.9pc of consumers online, compared to just 24.1pc in non-English speaking countries

·         Non-native English speakers account for the majority of online spend.

“What this analysis shows is that non-native English-language speakers already account for the majority of online spend and as internet penetration rates rise and disposable incomes in emerging economies increase, they will become even more important,” Luca Ascani, co-founder and chairman, Populis, said.

“Yet advertisers have tended to concentrate marketing and advertising on English-language speakers. We believe a greater focus on strategies for tapping into the non-native English markets will lead to fast and sustained growth for brands.”

Populis has developed a model of creating local-language content that then provides a platform for advertisers to reach online consumers in non-English language countries.

Emma Grant, e-Marketing Project Manager with Activis, commented that the current e-commerce spends reflect the abundance of new opportunities that are becoming available for online marketing in Europe.

“The big online spenders in Europe are seeing growth in e-commerce figures for a number of activities.

“It’s important to get involved and learn how to exploit these opportunities effectively as the move towards online purchasing is definitively not just a phase. With the European e-commerce market forecast to reach €323bn in 2011, it really is time to tap into your online audience, in your target languages, if you are not already doing so,” Grant added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years