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In Belgium, citizens speak different languages. Most people speak Dutch, some French and the minority speaks German. Also combinations of those language occur.

I want to expand a web shop to Belgium.

My question: Which language can I use to reach most 'modern' Belgiums?

By 'modern' people I mean people well familiar with (shopping on) the internet.

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The proportion of people who use the internet in Belgium doesn't differ to the speaking distribution percentages of the population, being:

  • Dutch (1st: ~56%, 2nd: 15%)
  • French (1st: ~38%, 2nd: ~48%)
  • German (1st: ~1%, 2nd: 27%)

[Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Belgium]

Therefore you will need to ensure that your web shop is available in both Dutch and French to reach the majority, otherwise you risk alienating almost half of them in any given situation.

It's always good to look to the large players to see what their approach is - e.g. http://www.ebay.be/

  • Thanks. I guess I'll have to use your suggestion then. However looking at other 'large' players like for example Philips, you'll see that they chose for Dutch as primary language, but with the option to choose another language. Does that correspond to your suggestion? – Tim Apr 14 '14 at 12:22
  • Providing an option to choose is a very good idea (as opposed to making any assumption) - you could do this in many ways (pop-ups?/link etc). One would think that Philips had a large amount of user analytics to sift through to make a default-language decision. – Mike Hudson Apr 15 '14 at 2:35

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