The future of doing business in India is going to be shaped by the connect companies establish with regional language speakers
The vernacular content market in India, which has the unique distinction of having 30 languages and around 1,600 dialects, is growing by leaps and bounds. According to the BBC, of India’s 1.3 billion people, only 125 million are English speakers. Apps for taxi services, food delivery and ecommerce have enabled businesses to tap only around 15% of the population, which is English speaking and lives in urban locations. Therefore, the estimated regional language base of 540 million, with a market size of $53 billion, offers an exciting opportunity for targeted regional marketing through the digital medium.
The rural internet subscriber base is growing at a rate of 24% every year. This has made it easier to tap the Indian market by using vernacular languages. A study by KPMG has estimated that almost 73% of the internet subscribers in India use Indian languages. Regional language internet services and social networks such as Lokal and the China-born TikTok highlight the opportunities in connecting with regional language users. It is not surprising that investment in vernacular startups is gaining momentum, with names that include Sharechat and DailyHunt receiving close to $800 million over the past five years.
In a vast country like India with innumerable languages, the higher click-through rates in digital communication for vernacular languages indicates the importance of localised content in attracting larger audiences and achieving better conversion rates. Apps such as Dubverse and Skit are already creating and distributing content in several languages.
Apart from the ability to translate content into multiple languages, understanding the local cultural nuances and interests are extremely important in order to localise content for each territory. Brands like Khatabook have been successful in reaching millions of customers in a short span of time with the help of a localised content strategy. Google, Twitter and Facebook have also started targeting Indian consumers in regional languages.
With an estimated digital penetration of 40%, India has the second largest digital population in the world. In order to capitalise on this unique opportunity, apart from developing content in different languages and formats that regional consumers are comfortable with, it is going to be necessary to develop applications that can support more regional languages across multiple devices. AI/ML tools need to be developed to handle analyses of regional language content.
It has also been observed that the user stickiness of those opting for a vernacular interface is 95%, which highlights the importance of understanding the UX-UI nuances, along with the unique cultural facets of content creation, in attracting, converting and retaining customers from the vernacular medium.
The future of doing business in India is going to be determined by the connect companies build with regional language speakers and therefore producers should make a start with websites, apps and social media content that use regional languages.
Originally appeared in Financial Express