March 2000 vol4
What's the Buzz?
SPECIAL FOCUS: PUTTING THE 'WORLDWIDE' IN THE
Think your Internet business doesn't need to be chasing
after international markets? Or if you're already are,
are they the right international markets?
To help you answer these questions, this edition of
WebPromote Weekly offers data on international markets
that are (and will be) some of the biggest. And the article
"Use Global English on the Worldwide Web" offers strategy
for reaching those markets with your website.
ASIA-PACIFIC ONLINE RETAIL MARKET NEARING CRITICAL
With 10 million consumers who have purchased online and
surging Internet use, the online retail market in Asia-Pacific
is reaching critical mass, according to a new report form The Boston Consulting Group.
The report, "E-tail of the Tiger: Retail E-commerce in
Asia-Pacific," surveys the online retail market in Australia,
China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia,
New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.
"The major global online players are starting to turn
their eyes to this part of the world," says BCG Vice President
David Michael, a co-author of the report. "New entrants
now have the opportunity to capture strong revenues as
attractive new users start experimenting with online shopping."
The online retail market in Asia-Pacific is still highly
concentrated, with the leading 25 players in most countries
accounting for more than 60% of overall revenue, according
to the report. Some markets and categories--such as computer
hardware and software, financial services, and travel--are
already starting to get crowded, while others remain open.
Total online retail revenue in Asia-Pacific for 1999
was $2.8 billion, compared to $3.5 billion in Europe and
$36.6 billion in the United States. But the region's revenue
grew 200% in 1999, and BCG projects it will grow to more
than $7 billion this year. Online retail's penetration
of the total retail sector is only 0.1%, compared to 1.2%
in the United States.
Three countries account for 94% of the total Asia-Pacific
online retail market: Japan, $1.5 billion; Korea, $720
million; and Australia, $380 million. Most other Asia-Pacific
countries have online retail revenue of less than $30
EUROPEAN CONSUMER INTERNET ACCESS GROWING FASTER
Europe's consumer Internet industry is growing faster
than ever before, according to a report from Datamonitor.
The 25 million Western European households with Internet
access will grow to 64 million by 2004, according to the
fifth edition of Datamonitor's "PC-Based Consumer Internet
Access in Europe."
Recent growth in many European markets has been driven
by dropping access costs. Scandinavian markets, where
the consumer Internet market is most advanced, will have
the slowest growth this year. Datamonitor projects the
Spanish market will grow by 85%, three times as quickly
as in Sweden. By the end of 2000, 18% of Spanish households
and 40% of Swedish households will have PC-based Internet
access, Datamonitor predicts.
LOCALIZATION OR ENGLISH?
Does your website need to be translated to numerous different
languages in order to reach these and other international
markets? That's the question Martin Schell addresses in
"Use Global English on the Worldwide Web" in this week's
edition of WebPromote Weekly. Schell's answer differs
from one put forward earlier this year by Jim Wanek in
his article, "Global Marketing Can't Be Done Just In English.
Use Global English On The Worldwide Web
Many Internet marketers seeking international sales
are paying website localization companies to translate
their websites into numerous different languages. In fact,
a recent article in WebPromote Weekly recommended Internet
marketers translate their sites into the languages of
all countries or regions they hope to do business in ( February 2000 Volume 1).
Translating Web content into multiple languages ignores
some of the developing realities of the World Wide Web,
as well as some important cost considerations. Many companies'
international sales goals can be accomplished using global
English instead of localized translation.
THE REALITY OF THE WEB
Localization presupposes that consumers in different cultures
need to read content in their own language. But increasingly,
English is used throughout the world.
English's popularity is somewhat intertwined with global
mass culture. Hollywood movies, rock music and fast food
give concrete meaning to bits of English to millions of
people who are not fluent in it. In many countries, it
is trendy for youths to sprinkle English words in their
speech or on their clothing.
On the Web, English is already the language of choice.
More than 86% of the 1 billion Web pages are in English,
according to an Inktomi survey, cited in the Feb. 7 edition
of NUA Internet Surveys.
Another consideration is expense. Localization is costly,
with the cost rising as a document is localized into more
languages and dialects. Eventually, the marginal returns
from localization diminish; the extra market share gained
by translating content into additional languages will
not generate enough revenue to make localization into
those languages profitable.
HOW MANY ARE LEFT OUT?
Human beings speak thousands of languages, including more
than 200 languages that each have more than 1 million
speakers. It's not feasible to translate a document into
all of them, so the question becomes, How many people
are going to be left out?
Even though more than a dozen large languages have already
passed the 100 million mark, website localization is almost
always confined to five or six languages that cover linguistic
groups representing high numbers of Internet users.
This list of languages will have to be expanded for
a localization strategy to remain effective in the long
term. For example, Internet use is increasing rapidly
in places like Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines.
But the national languages of these large countries are
rarely included in the list of options offered by localization
And even the short-term value of localizing websites
may be overblown. Only 8% of Hispanic-American Internet
users prefer Spanish-language websites, according to a
recent survey conducted by Puerto Rican firm Research
The survey found that 41% of Hispanic-American Internet
users prefer English-language websites, while 51% said
they were bilingual and would visit and purchase from
sites in either English or Spanish. This means that 92%
of Hispanic-American Internet users feel comfortable with
English websites, despite the fact that 63% of this 5
million-strong market segment was born outside the United
AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH
A more cost-effective way to ensure that people from all
linguistic backgrounds have a reasonable chance of comprehending
your website is to use global English. Global English
is different from American English because it does not
include the jargon and figures of speech particular to
The influence of American English will continue to diminish;
the proportion of Americans on the Web has already dropped
to less than 50% of the global online population. But
global English is likely to remain the dominant language
of the Worldwide Web for many years to come.
To communicate in global English, marketers must change
their linguistic habits, becoming more aware of the perceptions
of the non-native speakers of English who use the Web.
It is essential to write Web content in clear, globally
understood English: smoother sentence structure, fewer
idioms, less jargon.
Here's an example of Web copy in American English:
"Users pick what they like from a wide variety of fun
looks and music styles and Style Finder returns product
suggestions based on individual preferences. Which is
just the right feature for users who want what works."
Here's that copy translated into global English:
"Users choose what they like from a wide variety of
attractive clothing displays and music styles. The Style
Finder then returns product suggestions based on their
individual preferences. This convenient feature is exactly
what online shoppers want."
Streamlining your English will have minimal effect on
your style but it will greatly enhance the ability of
Web users around the world to understand your website.
If someone's native language is not among the handful
that you've chosen to localize into, he would much rather
read global English than English that is full of buzzwords,
euphemisms and unexplained acronyms.
WHY IT WORKS
There are two reasons why global English works on the
Web. First, people who are incompletely fluent in English
usually can read it more easily than they can speak it.
They can go over written words several times at their
own pace and use a dictionary.
Secondly, content can be translated locally if necessary--but
more casually. For example, someone would download one
of your English pages and then ask a bilingual friend
to explain its essential details in his native language.
The bottom line is that it will always pay for you to
have your website written in clear, globally understood
English. If you later decide to localize your content
for a specific market, global English will be easier for
your translator to work with, thereby saving you time
and money. And if your website attracts visitors who cannot
read any of its localized versions, they will appreciate
the fact that your English version is easier to understand
than most other sites.
By Martin A. Schell
Martin A. Schell is the director of Universal Web, a
Web content editing service operated by American
Services In Asia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
YAHOO'S BIG IN JAPAN
Yahoo is the most visited Web property among Japan's Internet
users, according to Nielsen//NetRating's first report
on that country's Internet audience, released earlier
For the month of February, Yahoo's reach of the Japanese
Internet market was 54%, and its unique audience was 3.4
million. Reach indicates the unduplicated audience that
visits a property. Behind Yahoo was NEC, with a reach
of 30% and a unique audience of 1.9 million.
The rest of the top 10 Web properties, in descending
order, were: MSN, Sony Online, GeoCities, Dream Train
Internet, Nifty Corp., Lycos Network, Hi-Ho Internet Service
Top banners on Japanese websites had a click-through
rate of 1.96%. The top 10 advertisers for the period were:
Microsoft, Yahoo, Communication Online Inc., The Nomura
Securities Co. Ltd., Goo, ERGO-BRAINS. LTD, Okasan Securities
Co. Ltd., E*TRADE Japan Securities Inc., Sofmap Co. Ltd.,
and Daiwa Securities Co. Ltd.