28 November 2014

Market research vs. translation market realities

Writing on his award-winning Word Prisms blog, US-based Russian-to-English translator Kevin Hendzel has added a post, dated 28 November 2014, entitled Why translators are promoting premium markets. Although aimed much more at translators than translation buyers, it offers excellent insights for one and all into a market he describes as "immense, opaque, highly fragmented and comprised of radically different dynamics".

I agree with everything Kevin says on Market “research” vs. market realities, including the comments:
Translation market “research,” meanwhile, has not come remotely close to portraying this complexity.
... despite their high price, such heavily-marketed “studies” distort reality by relying on self-reported data from bulk-market companies, missing many of the largest and most lucrative sectors of the market that for various reasons – national security, institutional confidentiality, competitive secrecy, and teaming agreements, to name a few – are compelled to fly under the “self-reporting” radar.
As a result, the enormously complex translation market has been massively distorted by this bulk-market “research” lens to portray nothing but bulk-market providers.
... the translation market is a very long continuum consisting of billions of shades of gray. The “premium vs. bulk” dichotomy is a form of shorthand only.
Kevin goes on to point out that the bulk-market business model perpetually drives down the rates paid to translators by setting them (translators) against each other to compete for the work that’s available from clients who belong to the bulk-market agencies, not to the translators. The point is well made.

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Glossary. Too little research.

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