T-Index 2016: the rankings for online markets

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Which markets offer the greatest potential for online sales?

T-Index 2016 is based on a new calculation method that uses HFCE (household final consumption expenditure) instead of GDP. See more details below.

T-Index is a statistical index ranking the markets according to their potential for online sales. It estimates the market share of each country in relation to global e-commerce, by combining the number of Internet users by country with their estimated spending amount per capita.

The study was conducted by TRANSLATED – the leading professional online translation agency – in order to guide business clients in their selection of markets and languages for an internationalization project and to help them get the best possible return on investment (ROI) from it.

The underlying criteria for the study are described below.

Which markets offer the greatest potential for online sales?

Download the press release and get an overview of the study in this infographic.

2016 data

How to interpret the data

Sort by country Sort by language Sort by region

Trend* Region T-Index
Languages Internet population Internet
penetration rate
HFCE p.c. of Int. pop.**
Download data in CSV format
* The arrows and dash indicate the country's projected performance in the 2020 rankings.
** HFCE per capita of the Internet population
North America 32.4% 23.0% 3 309,553,886 87.3% $40,159
Western Europe 24.9% 19.2% 17 339,959,458 81.4% $28,092
East Asia 17.2% 20.7% 5 836,851,960 53.9% $7,904
South America 6.1% 9.6% 4 230,810,606 55.7% $10,116
Central and Eastern Europe 3.4% 4.2% 20 145,568,800 57.0% $8,843
North Africa and Middle East 3.1% 4.4% 4 159,228,461 38.3% $7,453
North and Central Asia 2.7% 4.6% 7 137,468,455 60.2% $7,558
Central America and the Caribbean 2.4% 2.9% 3 83,426,251 39.4% $11,259
Oceania 2.3% 2.8% 1 25,030,179 66.3% $34,982
Southeast Asia 2.2% 3.2% 10 178,848,420 28.6% $4,656
Sub-Saharan Africa 1.7% 2.9% 11 184,031,972 19.1% $3,630
South Asia 1.6% 2.3% 8 286,116,613 16.6% $2,135

T-Index Map 2016

T-Index is a percentage value that indicates the Internet market share held by each country.
The higher the T-Index, the higher the online sales potential of a country.

Internet Freedom Map

In certain countries, translating your website content may not be enough to transform local Internet users into potential customers. The map above shows the countries that currently impose restrictions on Internet access.
Source : Reporters Without Borders

Learn more about T-Index

T-Index has been developed to help companies aiming at international expansion to select their target markets and to decide on the target languages for the translation of their website(s).

The United States, with a T-Index value of 29.9%, is the market with the highest potential for online sales in 2016, with more than 278 million Internet users, each with an average HFCE per capita of $41,217.

It is important to fully understand the local market and country before localizing your website for the United States. Is this market genuinely accessible for your company?

Have you considered the following?


A UK-based company specializing in the sale of winter sports merchandise has a website in English and wishes to translate it into another European language, to reach new customers online. After conducting market research, the marketing manager concludes that their products would be highly likely to be successful in Germany, Sweden and Norway. By accessing T-Index, it quickly becomes clear that Germany, with a 5.2% market share, is the market with the greatest potential for online sales, given its 69,718,664 Internet users with an average HFCE per capita of $28,551.
T-Index has therefore acted as a deciding factor in the choice of German as a new language for the site.

Projection of the top countries leading up to 2020

News & Forecasts

The United States, ranked first with a T-Index of 29.9%, is way ahead of China, ranked second with 8.0%. The 21.9 point gap between the leaders of the rankings can be explained by the huge difference in the average spending amount between the North-American Internet population ($41,217) and the Chinese Internet population ($4,551), although China has nearly three times more Internet users than the USA, making it the first country in terms of Internet users in the world.

According to the T-Index projection up to 2020, China should quickly catch up with the United States, with a market share equal to 12.7% in 2020 versus 20.6% for the United States.

In order to calculate a projection for the time leading up to 2020, we have extrapolated a line between the 2005 and 2014 data points, using simple linear regression*. The projection assumes a linear growth trend for all countries.

Japan ranks third with a market share of 7%, while the leading European nations Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy are respectively in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th places.

Brazil ranks seventh with a market share of 3.3% and is way ahead of all the other South American countries. From 2010 to 2014, the number of Internet users in Brazil increased by 47% to 118 million while their average spending per capita decreased by 14.9% to USD 10,820. Argentina and Colombia complete the podium for the South America region, with respective market shares of 0.79% and 0.51%.

Brazil is expected to take fourth place starting in 2017 with an estimated rise in market share of 34.1% (3.3% in 2014 versus 4.5% in 2017) and thus end up ahead of Germany, France and the UK. In 2020, it should even reach a market share of 5.1%, maintaining fourth place.

Canada and Russia close the top 10 for 2016 with T-Index values respectively of 2.5% and 2.3%. While Canada should drop down to 11th place in the 2020 ranking, Russia should display a surprising performance, jumping from 10th to 5th place with a market share equal to 3.9% in 2020, versus 2.3% in 2016. From 2010 to 2014, the number of Internet users in Russia increased by 65.1% to 101 million while their average spending per capita decreased by 4.1% to USD 8,794.

India, the world’s second most populous country, ranks 15th in 2016 with a T-Index of 1.3%. With a low internet penetration rate (18%) and a fast-growing consumption spending per capita (+22.2% from 2010 to 2014), India has all the characteristics of an e-commerce growth spot. According to the projections, it should take 13th place in 2020, ahead of Spain and South Korea.

Among the emerging countries to show the strongest growth in market share between 2014 and 2020 are Ukraine (+118%), South Africa (+84.2%), Argentina (+77.8%), Iran (+76.5%) and the Philippines (+76.3%).

*See Wikipedia for further information.

The Study

Assumptions & Method

Please note that T-Index 2016 is based on a new calculation method that uses HFCE instead of GDP. HFCE is the market value of all goods and services purchased by households in each country. This change in variable in the T-Index calculation gives a much more realistic overview of each country’s real spending potential for online sales as it considers a country's household expenditure amount (HFCE) instead of a country's overall output value of goods and services (GDP).

T-Index has been developed to help companies aiming at international expansion to select their target markets and to decide on the target languages for the translation of their website(s).

Each country has been classified according to the language most commonly used by the local population to browse and make purchases on the Web. For reasons of statistical significance, the coexistence of multiple languages ​​within the same country was only taken into account where the T-index value of the country exceeded 0.1%. In the latter case, only languages ​​used on a daily basis on the Internet by more than 15% of the population were considered, except in cases where the minority languages ​​in question (used on the Internet by less than 15% of the population) are also national official languages. For example, Switzerland, with a T-Index of 0.94%, has been evaluated in three different language markets: German, French and Italian. All three of these languages are actually used on a daily basis by the Swiss people to browse and make purchases on the Web. While French and German are both used by more than 15% of the population, Italian is used by only 7% of Internet users. However, Italian is a nationally recognized official language in Switzerland, hence its inclusion in T-Index.

The T-Index study only includes languages used for browsing the Web. A number of languages ​​are either not at all or very scarcely represented on the Internet today. Indeed, in many countries, the language ​​spoken in daily life by the majority of the population cannot be found online, as with Kinyarwanda in Rwanda. This is often due to a low Internet penetration rate, which does not enable local people to access the Web to create content in their native language. In Rwanda, the 10.6% of the total population who have Internet access browse the Web in English, given that little or no content has been created by and for Rwandans in their national language. This is why T-Index includes Rwanda in the English language market.

Languages with international variants have been grouped into their respective standard language. For example, UK and US English have both been classified as English.

Dependent territories (e.g. Puerto Rico) have been evaluated according to their respective governing state, provided they share the same language. If they do not share the same language, as is the case with Puerto Rico and the United States, they are included as separate entries based on the language market to which they belong.

The T-Index study does not cover all countries. The countries included in the study are those for which it was possible to find data on the number of Internet users. Without this data, the evaluation would have been impossible. The following 10 countries present in the previous versions of T-Index are not included in this new version because no Internet user data was available: Cook Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Kosovo, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Taiwan, Vatican City State and North Korea. However, West Bank and Gaza has been included in the new 2016 rankings.

In order to determine the HFCE per capita of the Internet population, we assumed that the Internet users in each country belong to the richest segment of the country’s population. We made this assumption considering that a certain minimum of income is necessary in most countries to have an Internet subscription and to be able to take part in e-commerce activity.

Firstly, we gathered information about the number of Internet users, HFCE and the total population, from which we determined both the Internet penetration rate* and HFCE per capita for each country. We then analyzed each country's internet penetration rate and income distribution, to determine the proportion of HFCE theoretically spent by Internet users. Finally, in order to obtain the "HFCE per capita of the Internet population", we made the following calculation: (country's total population x country's HFCE per capita x percentage of HFCE theoretically spent by Internet users)/number of Internet users.

For countries where income distribution data was not available, we calculated the average income distribution for all countries and used this estimate.


T-Index is a tool to support decision-making for companies faced with a choice of markets and languages ​​when localizing their website(s). It gives an overview of the potential of each online market. Nevertheless, factors other than the absolute size of each market alone must be taken into account when making internationalization decisions. For example, localizing your website for the Chinese market does not make sense if your company does not have the logistics capacity to distribute your products in China. Moreover, translation is the first step towards attracting new customers, although other key aspects, such as the quality of your products/services or the user-friendliness of your website, must also be optimized, to transform your visitors into potential buyers.


In Japan, the number of Internet users is 115,155,984, out of a total population of 127,131,800. The Internet penetration rate is therefore 90.6%. In 2014, the HFCE per capita of Japan was $21,931. According to income distribution by quintiles, we estimate that 90.6% of the richest people in Japan spend 96.5% of the country's total consumption expenditure. To obtain the "HFCE per capita of the Internet population", we then made a simple calculation:

(total population x HFCE per capita x % of expenditure spent by Internet users) / number of Internet users

Applied to Japan: (127,131,800 x 21,931 x 96.5%) / 115,155,984
The estimated HFCE per capita of the Internet population in Japan is thus $23,368.

To obtain the T-Index value, we multiply the number of Internet users by the average HFCE per capita of the Internet population. For Japan: 115,155,984 x $23,368. Finally, to obtain a percentage value for each country, we divided each country's T-Index value by the sum of the T-Index values of all countries. This explains how we obtain a T-Index for Japan of 7%.

*The Internet penetration rate is the percentage of Internet users in a given country.


Please note that our information sources have been changed for T-Index 2016. The new sole source for both Internet users and total population figures is the World Bank database, which features more reliable statistics than the original Internet World Stats website and CIA World Factbook used as references for previous years.

The number of Internet users for each country is taken from the World Bank report “Internet users (per 100 people)”. The statistics were up-to-date as 2014. To change the percentage figures into whole figures, we combined the figures of this report with the ones from the total population report of the World Bank.

To assign each country to a language market, we studied the languages ​​most commonly used for navigation and shopping on the Web in each country. Our worldwide network of freelance translators has also contributed to the project, helping to make it a reliable tool that reflects the reality of each country.

The total population of each country is taken from the World Bank. The statistics were up-to-date as of 2014.

Data on HFCE (household final consumption expenditure) is taken from the World Bank. Data was up-to-date as of 2014 and in current U.S. dollars. Please note that currency exchange rate fluctuations (national currencies versus U.S. dollars) have an impact on the HFCE values expressed in current U.S. dollars, and consequently on the current and estimated T-Index values. We chose to use HFCE values expressed in current US dollars instead of HFCE values expressed in current international dollars using purchasing power parity (PPP) rates because our study focuses on global ecommerce opportunities, which are assessed in part according to the currency exchange rate fluctuations between countries. For countries or territories whose HFCE was not indicated in the abovementioned World Bank report, the data has been estimated by our agency. The HFCE figures of the following 30 countries have been estimated by our agency: Andorra, Cabo Verde, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Fiji, Greenland, Haiti, Iraq, Kiribati, Libya, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic, Tuvalu, Yemen and Zambia.

To determine whether Internet access is restricted in a given country, we looked at the ranking provided by the international non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders, available on its official website.

The distribution of income by quintiles is taken from the statistical data of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. Not all the data refer to the same year (the World Bank data ranges from 1992 to 2013).

This ranking may only be freely reused and shared if a link back to this page is provided and it is made clear to users that the data comes from the T-Index study. Please copy and paste the following statement:

T-Index Study 2016, by TRANSLATED. TRANSLATED is the leading professional online translation agency providing language services to over 70,000 international customers for more than 15 years:


Many thanks to all the people who provided us with useful data or tips (in alphabetical order):


For further information, please contact: aurore@translated.net

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