LanguageLine Blog

Is Your Business Ignoring 25 Million People in the U.S.?

Written by Greg Holt | September 17, 2015

Of course not, you say. And really, what business could possibly succeed while ignoring a huge section of the population?

But the fact is many companies are doing just that when it comes to the more than 25 million limited English proficient (LEP) consumers living in the United States right now. This valuable group, who cannot communicate effectively in English, makes up nearly 7% of the entire U.S. population!   LEPs are only part of the more than 60 million consumers in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home and may prefer to do business in their native tongue.

Whether these consumers communicate in another language out of necessity or for comfort, they should not be overlooked by business.

LEP consumers represent an opportunity to grow your business!

As a business or organization in the United States, why does it matter whether you’re able to effectively serve LEP consumers? The demographic numbers speak for themselves.

While growth of the general consumer market is projected to be flat, Hispanic and Asian American populations, which represent the majority of LEP consumers in the U.S., are projected to increase significantly. In 2013, the combined markets represented nearly $2 trillion in buying power.  Overcoming language barriers when they exist within these populations is a key tool to tapping this lucrative buying power and ensuring future revenue generation in an increasingly competitive market.

Consumer research about the booming Hispanic market is readily available in the media.  What about the Asian American market?  Here are some interesting statistics about the Asian American consumers that shed light on this emerging market opportunity:

  • The Asian American population is growing very fast, with nearly 15% growth projected by 2018.
  • 75% of Asian American adults in the U.S. are first generation immigrants, and 77% are more fluent in their native language than in English.
  • Asian Americans are the leading segment of online shoppers in the United States. 77% of the Asian American population has made a purchase online this year, compared to 61% of the general population. And they’re purchasing nearly twice the dollar amount of goods online than the national average.
  • Asian American households have a much higher median net worth than the national average ($89,300 vs $68,800).
  • The average Asian American household spends 21% more than the average American household, and they over-index in nearly every category: groceries, restaurants, housing, clothing, shoes, new cars, public transportation, education, and more.

This snapshot reveals some important commercial reasons why every company should be concerned about adequately serving LEP consumers:

  • Their communities are growing.
  • They have money to spend, and they enjoy spending it.
  • They’re looking for goods and services to improve their lives.
  • They want to do business in the language they understand.

So, if you’re not set up to adequately to service the needs of LEP Hispanic, Asian American or any other consumers who speak well over 200 languages in the U.S. today, you’re missing out on a tremendous commercial opportunity.

How can you stop ignoring LEP consumers and start serving them?

The answer is simple: language access services provide an instant link between your sales staff and the growing LEP population. Whether you want to assess the language proficiency of your bilingual staff, need professional interpreters to conduct business, or provide your website and literature in their language of choice, cost-effective solutions exist.

Here are some options that can immediately bring 25 million more potential customers through your door:

  • Telephone interpreting – Have a professional interpreter in more than 200 languages available 24/7/365 to interpret between an LEP client and your staff.
  • Video interpreting – Available instantly in the 13 most commonly requested languages, a professional interpreter can be heard and seen on your device of choice for a more engaging, more visual, client experience.
  • The Personal Interpreter App – Get instant access to telephone interpreters on an as-needed, pay-as-you-go basis via landline or a convenient smartphone app, especially convenient for mobile users.
  • Translation – Professional translators can adapt your sales documentation, signage, order forms, web content, and any other written communication into the languages your target customers speak.
  • Localization – These services ensure that translated documents, websites, software, images, and other marketing or sales materials are appropriate and relevant for your target LEP consumers.
  • Language testing and training – Ensure the language skills of bilingual staff are at the level needed to support your business needs.

If you have any questions about how to improve communication with LEP consumers, contact us today.