Far more than simply being a crucial language for communicating to a prosperous European nation, it’s your key to overseas ecommerce and business success in South America.
Of which tongue do we speak? Portuguese, of course.
Rapidly on its way to becoming a colossal economic powerhouse, you’ll struggle to find a language anywhere on planet Earth that has such current relevance, as well as latent potential.
Indeed, it’s a challenge to overstate the importance of Portuguese in today’s world. The language has an economic influence stretching far beyond its native borders of the Iberian peninsula; it’s driving incredible economic transformation through Latin America and Africa, as well as even gaining traction in Asia!
So, are you looking at doing business in Portuguese? Thinking about targeting Portuguese-speaking consumers for your next export campaign?
Let’s touch on five of the biggest, most compelling reasons why the Portuguese language is one you need in your arsenal. We don’t think you’ll take much convincing.
1. It’s your key to over 279 million people.
A beautiful Romance language tracing its roots to the Iberian peninsula, Portuguese (português) is the sole official language of Portugal (of course!) and Brazil.
Historic colonial expansion means that the tongue is also spoken officially in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Macau and more. Interestingly, less than 5% of native Portuguese speakers actually live in the Portuguese Republic — just to give a flavour for its global spread!
Like we refer to the ‘Anglophone’ and ‘Francophone’ people and communities, Portuguese speakers can be referred to as ‘Lusophone’ (lusófono).
There’s certainly many of them, too. The total number of Portuguese speakers is approximately 279 million according to The World Factbook, with Brazil itself accounting for around 212 million. Those who’ve adopted the West Iberian tongue as a second language — L2 speakers — are thought to number approximately 50 million.
This also doesn’t include the Portuguese diaspora, which spreads far and wide with communities in many other countries. Although more difficult to quantify, the number of Portuguese speakers outside of the Lusophone area is estimated at around 10 million.
This makes it the sixth most-spoken language globally by most measures — the most widely-spoken in South America and the Southern Hemisphere.
- Dark green: Native language.
- Green: Official and administrative language.
- Light green: Cultural or secondary language.
- Yellow: Portuguese-based creole.
- Green square: Portuguese-speaking minorities.
2. Portuguese is growing globally. Rapidly.
Population growth amongst Portuguese-speaking countries — particularly in Latin America and Africa — is undeniable.
As a result of this, the language is set up for a very lucrative few years and decades. According to one estimate, the number of Portuguese speakers will grow to over 500 million within 80 years.
UNESCO forecasts have laid out the latent potential and usefulness of Portuguese to those wanting to do business…
- Portuguese is the world’s fastest-growing Western language after English.
- Portuguese is earmarked as having the highest growth potential as an international communication language in South America and Southern Africa.
- By 2050, Portuguese-speaking African countries will have a combined population of 83 million.
But it’s not just Africa, Europe and Latin America where Portuguese’s future is bright. Perhaps rather surprisingly, the language is thought to have a big role to play in another of the fastest-growing economies of the world, China — as well as further across the Far East.
The uptake of Portuguese in China has been assisted by institutional support, with Portuguese-speaking Macau blazing a trail in the Far East for the language.
Increasingly close financial ties between Asian countries and Brazil have also contributed to Portuguese language programs soaring in popularity, even prompting one commentator to claim that ‘in China, no language will grow so much as Portuguese.’
Make no mistake, Portuguese is on the rise — all over the globe.
3. Dynamic, diverse, developed economies
Regardless of your product, service or sector, we’re fairly certain that you’ll find a thriving, receptive audience amongst Portuguese speakers. Research by the British Council ranked Portuguese as the eighth-most important language for the future of UK businesses.
As a late-stage developing economy, Brazil is on a firm trajectory to becoming a global economic superpower. Indeed, if recent IMF calculations are anything to go by, it may already be one.
A key trading partner of the EU and China, Brazil is currently at least the eighth-largest economy in the world by GDP, having overtaken the United Kingdom, France and Italy in all measures. It is the largest in South America and the second-largest in the Americas.
Over recent decades, Brazil has successfully developed a diversified economic base. The country is particularly noted for its leadership in industry, particularly steel, automobiles, textiles, chemicals, consumer goods and food — to name but a few. Brazil also has huge and thriving energy, agricultural, mining and tourism sectors.
They’re also typically entrepreneurial people. Did you know that, according to one interesting measure, one in four Brazilians have either started or own their own business? 37 million Brazilian jobs are associated with companies that have fewer than 10 employees.
When it comes to Portugal, say no more about the political, cultural and economic clout of this historic, highly-developed and forward-thinking business hub. A great deal of Portugal’s trade is done courtesy of the European Union, which the country sits at the heart of.
Finance, services, telecommunications, transportation, agriculture, fishing and manufacturing are all advanced major sectors of the economy. Key industries include machinery, electronics, automotive, food and beverage, injection moulding, plastics, textiles, oil, paper, wood and many more.
The IMF's GDP per capita measurements show that Portuguese people are up there with some of the world’s most prosperous — certainly not a bad target audience for your next exporting campaign, don’t you think?
For those with the longer term in mind, the increasing economic clout of Portuguese-speaking southern Africa shouldn’t be written off, either. Mozambique, in particular, boasts growing finance, tourism, manufacturing and gas sectors.
4. Portuguese speakers are spending online like never before.
The trend towards online retail and ecommerce is a global one, with Portuguese speakers certainly getting on board. Whether researching products, services or businesses that relate to them (for B2C or B2B), the Lusophone is doing business online.
By 2024, it’s estimated that digital buyers in Brazil will number over 134 million. These ecommerce trends have been accelerated by the global coronavirus pandemic; 28% of Brazilians say they are buying more online as a result of the outbreak, creating habits that are sure to last for the longer term.
As for Portugal, the story is similarly rosy. Ecommerce revenue is set to grow at an annual rate of 6.2% by 2025, with internet penetration growing from 50.1% in 2020 to 56.8% in 2025.
The only thing they need? A website that they can understand.
Brazil is ranked at 53rd in the global ‘English Proficiency Index’, illustrating that many don’t read, write or speak English to a huge degree of proficiency.
In Portugal, whilst many speak excellent English — the country is actually ranked as having the seventh-highest English proficiency of any in the world — many can’t use the language confidently.
Localising your web content, therefore, is essential — and underlines why Portuguese is such an indispensable language for business. Only by speaking it can you tap into these lucrative, expanding target audiences!
5. You’ll resonate with your target market.
People want to hear about your products and services and make purchasing or business decisions in their own language — as we’ve written about in the past. There’s no other way to put it.
There are two key variants associated with Portuguese — a Brazilian group and a European group. Differences between these groups and the dialects contained within them are pronounced, spanning vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax and grammar.
A São Paulo native will easily be able to distinguish the Portuguese he or she speaks on a daily basis to the Portuguese used in Lisbon, for example. As such, a well-executed, localised translation is essential.
Whether from Brazil or Portugal, Portuguese speakers are very proud of their language. For businesses who speak it correctly, it’s a sure-fire ticket to success, showing your target audience(s) that your business has the appropriate level of cultural sensitivity and respect.
That’s another reason why the language is so useful for business. You won’t get far without it!
An expert, native translator with specialist knowledge of your industry or sector can help you to nail these linguistic nuances and cultural intricacies. That’s where we come in.
Looking to do business in Portuguese?
If you’re interested in localising your content for Portuguese speakers, you’re in the right place.
At Alexika, clients trust us to provide professional, world-class translations into and out of Portuguese, covering many specialist industries and sectors.
Whether you’re translating for a Brazilian or Portuguese audience, we have a qualified, experienced and professional native translator ready to work on your project.
Get in touch with our team or phone 0800 917 9589 (+44 1943 839 227 outside of the UK) to get the ball rolling on your Portuguese translation project.