Profile of the Belgian marketWhen it comes to analyzing the Belgian market, it’s impossible not to mention the basic information about the country. Let’s start with some common knowledge - the Kingdom of Belgium is a federal state, located in southern Netherlands. Although the population of Belgium reaches a little over 11 million people, the country is extremely developed. French, German and Dutch are the official languages spoken there. This aspect is particularly important when SEO is concerned, however, we’ll discuss it at length later on in this article. [caption id="attachment_13396" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Source: https://www.flemishparliament.eu/about-the-flemish-parliament/structure-belgium[/caption] Belgium is divided into three regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. Each of them is autonomous in numerous fields such as economic policy or export promotion. The Kingdom of Belgium can boast with one of the most developed economies in the world. This in turn indicates that it’s worth investing in sales in this country. 70% of the Belgian national income is provided by services. Such impressive results can be achieved thanks to the developed system of logistics and transport infrastructure. The most prominent industries in Belgium include chemicals, food, textiles as well as metallurgy and electrical machinery. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, often referred to as “the capital of Europe” is the seat of the EU institutions. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is an important indicator of a country's economic strength. To put it simply, it’s the total value of all services and goods produced in Belgium in a particular year. The graph below illustrates the annual growth of this indicator in the Kingdom of Belgium. The expected upward trend is a sign that the country is developing well in terms of its economy. Thus, the conclusion is obvious - it’s worthy investing in goods on the local market. [caption id="attachment_13177" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/328821/gross-domestic-product-gdp-in-belgium/[/caption]
The e-commerce market in BelgiumBased on the StatBel report, as many as 6 out of 10 Belgians shop online. The trend is growing so it’s advisable to invest in online shops. Below you can see the predictions until 2021 showing the increase in the number of the e-commerce users. [caption id="attachment_13179" align="aligncenter" width="687"] Source: https://www.eshopworld.com/blog/belgium-ecommerce-insights/[/caption] The ecommercenews.eu report says that in 2018 the value of e-commerce in Belgium amounted to 10.67 billion euros. The average Belgian user shopped online more than 11 times last year. However, it’s worth noting that Belgium started its e-commerce activities comparatively late as at the beginning most of the residents benefited from the services offered by the Netherlands. Another reason behind poor e-commerce was the ban of night shifts issued by the state which caused significant delays in the delivery of goods to the customers. Consequently, Belgians preferred to order products from foreign manufacturers. This is why it’s difficult to surpass the competition in Belgium. Most of the leading e-commerce companies come from abroad but determination, strong will and a well-thought-out strategy should be enough to achieve the intended results. Currently, Belgium puts great emphasis on promoting the local e-commerce. Night shifts are also allowed which has contributed to the better functioning of the indigenous e-commerce companies. Bancontact, followed by a credit card, is the most popular method of paying for online shopping in Belgium. The vast majority of Belgian citizens use the first of the mentioned forms of online payment - Bancontact is an immediate debit card but it can only be used by residents of Belgium. The goods which are the most eagerly purchased online in this country include clothing, footwear, groceries and consumer electronics. Want to check out the revenues of particular e-commerce product categories in Belgium? See the chart below! [caption id="attachment_13181" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Source: https://www.eshopworld.com/blog/belgium-ecommerce-insights/[/caption] The Belgian e-commerce is undoubtedly dominated by big online shops such as Zalando, Bol.com, Amazon France, Apple and Coolblue. However, we shouldn’t forget about the local companies like Vente-Exclusive, Vanden Borre, ZEB, Schoenen Torfs and Bel & Bo which also sell online.
How to become recognizable on the Belgian Internet?Any company willing to enter the Belgian market needs to undertake a wide spectrum of Internet marketing activities as a large part of the local population uses the Internet on a daily basis. A properly designed website is the basis of advertising activities and the competition never sleeps. Such a developed country is a law unto itself, therefore it’s recommended to take actions that will allow you to outdo your rivals on the market. In order to do this, it’s necessary to advertise your company in a way that attracts the widest possible target audience. According to the Internet World Stats statistics from March 2019, more than 94% of Belgian citizens are active Internet users. Importantly, 65% of Belgians use Facebook regularly. If you want to be noticed on the local Internet, you need to take these statistics into account. On the basis of 2019 data published by StatBel we’ve prepared a list of the most common online activities of the Belgian users.
Language and its influence on the Belgian SEOFrench, Dutch and German are the official languages of Belgium. A noticeable part of population, approximately 60%, speaks Dutch. Nearly 40% of the Belgian population speaks French and only 1% chooses German. Brussels is dominated by French but similarly to many other capitals, the city is multilingual. Belgian websites are accessible in various language versions. In most cases you can come across French, Dutch, English and German website versions, however, much depends on the extension of the registered domain. In Belgium, websites are registered under the .be, .brussels and .vlaanderen domain extensions. Below you can see an example of various language versions under the .brussels domain extension - the landing page is displayed in French but other language versions are also available.
|https://www.lez.brussels/nl https://www.lez.brussels/en https://www.lez.brussels/de
- The Flemish variety of Dutch is spoken in Flanders,
- The French and Walloon varieties of Dutch are spoken in Wallonia,
- French and Dutch (predominantly French) are spoken in Brussels,
- German is spoken in the south of the country.