Four key features for taking on new markets

Are companies in Catalonia sufficiently multilingual?

“Every year, thousands of European companies miss out on commercial opportunities and lose contracts through a lack of intercultural skills and knowledge of languages.”

There are four features in language management related to satisfactory export results:

  1. Having a linguistic strategy
  2. Answering in the client's language
  3. Competent linguistic contracting
  4. Using professionals in translation and interpretation.

1- Linguistic communication strategies

Having preliminary plans or standards indicating how to act in the case of different languages is a priority task before taking on new markets. Nevertheless, according to a study carried out by ELAN, only 37.8% of companies have a formal communication strategy.

2- Answering in the client's language is essential

External communication

Answering in the client's language is a criterion shared by almost all companies.

Catalan and Spanish are the most commonly used languages in the region of Catalonia in dealings with clients yet, only just over half have documentation in the client's language. There are still companies acting abroad that do not have their website in English. It is essential to be aware that answering in the client's language is much more than a simple formality.

3- The multilingualism of the staff

Linguistic skills

Almost all companies state that they have staff able to use Catalan and Spanish with confidence. However, many companies do not have a record of their staff's linguistic knowledge.

It would seem that there is excessive confidence in the self-sufficiency of English as an international lingua franca, while in English-speaking companies, it is stated that “English is not enough”.

4- Use of translators

Along with English, French and the rest of the common European languages, there is a growing demand for translations into the languages of the emergent markets.

Attention must be paid to other languages of the main markets (French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese) and those of the new emergent markets, which can become an extremely important competitive factor.

New markets, new linguistic and cultural skills

To trade with new markets, you should bear in mind that they require new linguistic and cultural skills. As well as suitably training in international cultural matters.

“We must make companies aware of the importance of intercultural skills and provide training in this field, not just a translation or interpretation service.”

For further information please consult


Sources: The European Commission website on languages in the economic world: ,