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Busting the myths of translation for market research

By Katie Reed | September 7, 2022 | Blog Market Research Translation Tips

Translation can be a crucial part of a market research project, but often only included at the end of the process. If you’ve spent all that time getting your survey right in one language, it’s important to spend the right amount of time translating it correctly. The small nuances and cultural differences of each language are vital for the understanding of both research questions and the responses.

With that in mind, we’d like to share some of the things we’ve learned over the last 30 years. This includes a few common misconceptions about translation services and our take on them.

Whilst it’s true that machine translation has come a long way, it doesn’t take long to see that it still has its flaws. Human translation by specialist translators includes an appreciation of the importance of context and the difference target audience, culture and location can make. And just because the source is identical, doesn’t mean the translation can be. Knowing whether you’re talking to adults or children, French speakers in France, Belgium or Canada and consumers or peers can change the translation significantly. The English question, “Do you watch television?” will have two different French translations, depending on whether you’re asking children or adults. A machine may not know this, but a human will.


  • Translation can be done quickly – it’s just swapping words

A basic translation without quality checks may be able to be done quickly, but a high-quality translation relies on the expertise and specialist knowledge of the translator and this takes time. The translator will read through the text to ensure they fully understand the aims and audience. A first draft is then created and time taken to review the translation against the original to ensure it is accurate. Finally they will read through the translation to check for overall sense, typos and syntax. These steps help to ensure your translated survey conveys the same meaning regardless of geography, giving you consistent and comparable results across all markets.


  • All translators can translate all projects

Terminology is a crucial element in translation, particularly in areas such as medicine, marketing and HR. That’s why it’s important to use a specialist translator with knowledge of the subject or sector as well as one who is an experienced linguist. Technical terms and cultural norms can make a huge difference in connecting with your audience and ensuring they understand what you are trying to say.


Here are a few of our tips for integrating translation services into your next market research project.

  • Be inclusive

By liaising with your translation provider at an early stage in your market research project, you can factor in the appropriate time for the translation process. This will save you time in the long run and ensure the right linguists are available at the right time, resulting in a high-quality translation service.

  • Provide a detailed brief

The more information you are able to include in your translation brief, the better the results. Understanding who your target market is (respondent profile, age, gender, etc.), as well as the aims of the research project will help your mother-tongue translator choose the right phrasing and terminology to connect with your audience. Knowing what is expected will also help your translation service select and book the right linguist and offer a realistic timescale for the project, saving time and money.

  • Know your budget

Budget constraints are an important consideration of any project, so it’s advisable to include translation as part of your plan. Consulting with your translation provider up front and discussing what you need and expect from them will help you to manage client expectations of the process. As with any element of a project, knowing the budget up front helps avoid stress later on.


We can help

The Language Factory has over 30 years of experience providing high-quality, specialist translation services delivered by mother-tongue linguists across a range of sectors, from market research to healthcare, marketing to travel and HR. Supported by our team of expert Project Managers, we’re proud to have earnt a 99% customer satisfaction rating.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help with your next market research project.

Find out more about our translation services:

Business translation

English editing service


Audio translation