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  • Writer's pictureMichel Mahieu

Languages in Luxembourg – Which one speaks the loudest?

Luxembourg is one of the most fascinating countries in the world for many reasons. A population of only 600,000 people, yet is home to such a variety of cultures, nationalities, and spoken languages. A bus ride in Luxembourg is a unique experience, because it sounds like one big mesh of different languages blending into a harmonious background noise. This makes being a marketer in Luxembourg even more interesting, and figuring out how to guide businesses to effectively communicate with their audiences here is an exciting adventure.

As you can imagine, with the wide range of spoken languages comes many challenges, especially because there isn’t necessarily a common language spoken by everyone. Some people believe the most commonly used language is French, some think it is English or German, and others believe Portuguese is starting to trump them all. So how does a business manage its communications in Luxembourg? In this article I will look at a few aspects to consider in overcoming this challenge.

Let the data speak

As a point of departure, my suggestion is to look at conversational data across social media and identify which languages are featuring the most. When doing this, it is essential to look at data in real-time, and not rely on outdated articles or studies. I read an article, that was published in 2018, which mentioned French as being the most used language in conversation in Luxembourg. While you may think that 2018 is fairly recent, an analysis of the real-time data for the past 30 days across social media reveals a completely different picture. As can be seen in the graph to the left exported from Talkwalker, English came up by far as the most used language at over 36% for the last 30 days, followed by Luxembourgish at over 22%! French only accounted for 11,5%, which begs the question as to why every YouTube and Facebook ad I seem to get in Luxembourg is in French.

Let the target audience speak

To simply start marketing in English may seem like an appropriate response to this data, but there is of course a lot more to consider. As a business, you need to remain cognisant of who your target audience is in Luxembourg. If you are selling white wine, then you will need to identify the audience who is going to buy white wine and the type of language they are most commonly using. Specific geography is also important to consider, for example if you own a restaurant in the south of Luxembourg near France then you will need to establish whether choosing English or Luxembourgish over French makes sense. We can obtain this type of data from a range of different analytics tools. The example below shows how web analytics can highlight where traffic to your website is coming from, and if you already have web analytics set up for your company you will be able to see this type of information.

Let the seasons speak

The season is also an important consideration when deciding on which language to use. For example, in the summertime there are more tourists roaming the streets of Luxembourg, meaning there will be a shift in the languages being used. I have noticed some shops in the city centre who have adapted some of their communications to English now that summer season is approaching. Again, it is important to analyse the data in real-time to establish how drastic the language changes are and to monitor if your particular business experiences a shift in audience persona in different periods throughout the year.

Let your business identity speak

While there are numerous other factors to consider, there is one more aspect I would like to mention, and that has to do with keeping your brand authentic. Yes, people like it when you communicate with them in their preferred spoken language, but there are always exceptions. As a simple example, when I go to a Japanese restaurant and I am greeted in Japanese, I quite appreciate that they have done so because it keeps the experience authentic and retains its unique charm. When I go to a Spanish tapas bar, I would enjoy seeing Spanish lingo being used in the banners outside the bar.

When we think left and right brain, language is extremely important. It can play a big role in effective creative messaging and help businesses to resonate more effectively with their audiences. It can also open new doors and offer opportunities to refresh your brand or further enhance its unique character and brand identity. LUNIR thrives on Luxembourg’s diversity and sees the evolution of the country’s multiplicity as an exciting wave to ride.

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