The main three countries that make up the German-speaking market known as DACH are Germany (DE), Austria (AT), and Switzerland (CH). Although marketing experts like to put all countries together into one pot, there are linguistic specifics that should be considered when targeting each one.
With its continuously growing revenue and money expenditure, Germany is still the most attractive market in Europe for any kind of e-commerce. In addition, it appears the wave of success is also floating over Austria and Switzerland: B2B e-commerce grew by 14.3% in Austria, and 90% of Swiss internet users have purchased products online. Zalando and Amazon are in the top 3 online stores in all three markets.
Similar though these three German-speaking markets may seem, are there any linguistic differences that would make a difference when it comes to content?
Hochdeutsch vs. Local Language
The main difference lies in terminology. For example, there are three different terms for “potato”: Kartoffel (DE), Erdäpfel (AT) and Härdöpfel (CH). Checking the search volume of such terms should be the first step before making a decision of which terms to use.
Other small variations can be found in the usage of punctuation, such as different quotation marks or adding/deleting a space between number and currency. Some terms also differ in gender and article usage. In such cases, checking the German dictionary DUDEN should be your first and most reliable reference.
In summary, everyone speaks and writes German differently. Despite this, they should all understand one another since the official German language ‘Hochdeutsch’ is taught everywhere.
However, we would recommend taking the linguistic specifics for each German dialect into account when creating digital content, as Austrian and Swiss audiences do not appreciate being lumped together with the larger German market.