B2C – Multicultural Consumers – Can’t Read, Won’t Buy

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Attention B2C Companies: Studies show that even when a person can understand English sufficiently in everyday interactions, when it comes to major decisions, including those in financial matters, people are usually more comfortable in their first language.1
0 %
of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language2
0 %
of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language2
0 %
of consumers said the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price2
Ethnically diverse consumer groups in the U.S. represent a combined buying power of 3.9 trillion U.S. dollars.3 Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies (including retail banks and credit unions) that learn how to hypertarget each customer segment in this multicultural economy and focus on personalizing every interaction will benefit greatly.
The population explosion and geographic dispersion of multicultural consumers are key drivers of diversity and evolving buying behavior. Multicultural consumers are rapidly becoming the core of the U.S. population. By 2045, the ethnically diverse population in the U.S. is expected to outnumber the historical majority, i.e., non-Hispanic White. The two primary drivers for this growth are Hispanic and Asian ethnic groups.4

Ethnic Composition of the U.S. Population in 20154

Ethnic Composition of the U.S. Population in 2035 (Forecast)4

As a result of the rapidly changing consumer demographics, many B2C companies endeavor to have systems in place for written translation and verbal interpretation, whether using internal resources or with the assistance of third-party vendors, to help ensure consistency and accuracy when engaging and dealing with multicultural consumers.

When it comes to the translation of marketing materials and financial documents, best practices for success of B2C Companies are:

Keep it clear.

In some cases the challenge is not translating materials, but rather ensuring that materials are written at a reading level that is accessible to the average U.S. adult regardless of the language used.

Translate ideas, not words.

Some languages may not have equivalent financial concepts. Translate for meaning, rather than word for word.

Use consistent terminology.

Keep internal and external terminology consistent by using bilingual glossaries for the top languages used by your consumers.

Use technology.

Specialized Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, such as translation memory and terminology management systems, can greatly boost translation productivity and consistency.


  1. United States Government Accountability Office. (May 2010) Factors Affecting the Financial Literacy of Individuals with Limited English Proficiency. Report to Congressional Committees. https://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10518.pdf
  2. Kelly, N. (Aug 03, 2012). Speak to Global Customers in Their Own Language. Harvard Business Review. hbr.org/2012/08/speak-to-global-customers-in-t
  3. Humphreys, J. (2018) 2018 Multicultural Economy. Report. Selig Center for Economic Growth. University of Georgia.
  4. Bureau, U.S. Census. Data tables. census.gov/data/tables.html

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