Here’s How Local Language Can Grow Your Business
Internet is increasingly becoming the go-to medium for anyone looking for information. Gone are the days when people asked for directions, now we have Google maps. We don’t ask our friends how they found a place, but directly go to the website and check the ratings and so on.
Statistics show that there are not more than 100 million internet users and India alone has 850 million mobile phone users. If we want to include the next 300 million users online, we can only achieve it by localising our content. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked upon a glorious yet strenuous journey- the quest to make India digital. This means that there should be enough online content presented in native languages. A farmer should have access to information online that is in his/her native language. This is hugely beneficial to the rural community.
Around 45 to 55 crores speak Hindi, making it one of the most spoken languages in the world. Sadly, when we compare this to the number of online articles written in Hindi, the numbers are dismal.
We have around 0.1% articles in Devngiri script where as countries like China, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia have a high percentage of websites with content in their local languages. It is extremely important to increase the use of native languages in the digital media as this will provide the users a plethora of language choices to select from.
Although, every leading social networking site gives an option of preferred local language non English speakers find it extremely difficult to manoeuvre themselves on popular websites. By 2021 the digital payment sectors will grow by 30% CAGR and 175 million customers will be expected to utilise it through the Indian language interface. These gateways are used primarily for mobile recharge and bill payments. Currently, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada are leading languages used for easy and quick adaptations. It forms half the users on a digital platform for payments.
Why do companies need in-house language skills?
By increasing digital content in local langauges we will create a huge opportunity for industries as well as start-ups. We can target a larger audience through local languages. Indian companies are starting realise the vast difference the demand and supply of local languages have have started using it to grow their business. Indian scripts will reach out to those who speak that language. We will see a substantial increase in the number of internet users once we start availing more content in Indian languages.
Data shows that 7% Telugu speakers (meaning 70 million users) access Telugu content online. This is a huge market for any industry. With the increase in the number of internet users and the decrease in website set-up costs, individuals are consuming more digital content available in their local language. Every business aims to communicate their offers and services to their potential customers. By keeping our website in a singular language in India we create an obvious barrier for our-self- one that prevents us from selling our products as well as services.
Here are four reasons as to why you should utilise local languages to grow your brand image in India:
- Huge target audience – If your target audience primarily consists of Indians, you cannot turn a blind eye to more than 500 million users. Languages like Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu etc. have a remarkable number of users. If your products and services have users who speak regional languages, then it makes sense to reach out to buyers in their preferred languages.
- Better response– Information conveyed through local languages allow users to feel comfortable and respond openly without fear. This allows positive business-to-consumer interactions. By adding local languages to your website, you can actually see an increase in user interactions on your social media handles. Several brands are targeting local customers through regional languages and it shows positive results.
- Marketing advantage – Local language add a personal feel to the website; speakers of that language feel inclined towards the company because it ‘speaks’ to them. Since it is difficult for several businesses to provide language support, translation or technical feasibility, a planned presentation in local languages can market products and services to new users.
By offering these skills and services, SMEs will notice a growth in their client base. According to Ciaran McCabe “many businesses will rely on the help of translators, but we have found that investing in a dedicated service has led to stronger client relationships of the company – so much so that the majority of work the firm receives under this service is through personal recommendations.”
India ranks second in the largest and the fastest growing smartphone global market with around 300 million smartphone users and is expected to reach a whopping mark of 650 million users by 2019, reported by Cisco. Although smartphones are becoming cheaper and telephone companies are advertising 3G and 4G internet speeds, a majority of rural India is yet to have access to these facilities. Problem vastly lies in the poor connectivity in rural areas where they are looking for information in their languages. This can mar the adoption of social media platforms in multiple languages.
Going by the industry forecasts, there will be an increase in investments for local language campaigns and advertisements. This will help introduce new customer market segments. A rise from 5% in June 2015 to 30% by 2020 is expected through online ad expenditures on local language content. Recently, as an attempt to promote Hindi and other local languages, the government has launched a web domain that allows users to type their address in devanagri script which gives scope to Sindhi, Hindi, Marathi among others.
Prime minister Narendra Modi has expressed support to impart technical education through native languages to provide a better future to India’s youth. This strategy will help bridge the gap between the rural and the urban and give rural India a chance to contribute in the nation’s development. According to reports by Google in 2014, 21% of India’s population prefers to surf and access the internet in Hindi. Consumption in Hindi has shown a remarkable growth of 94% as compared to English, which stays at 19%.
(image courtesy: www.mindshiftinteractive.com)
- Around 60% users in urban India access online content in Hindi followed by Marathi and Tamil.
- 88% of India’s population does not speak English (FICCI KPMG report).
- 127 million people in India consume articles in local languages(IAMAI and IMRP report).
(image source: www.mindshiftinteractive.com)
As expected, Hindi remains one of the most popular local Indian language, followed by Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil and Urdu. This is a large number that companies cannot ignore.
Recently more Indian entrepreneurs are using Indian languages to grow their business. This is made possible only because of the increase in the number of internet users in India. It is important for start-ups to acknowledge this and recognize the potential for future growth. Research shows that in year 2016, we had around 236 million Indian language users online. Researchers predict that by 2021, there will be around 536 million Indian language users online; this is triple the number of Indians using the internet in English.
The regional marketplace works with different parameters. It is important to know the market – from the bottom rising into a macro nation level. In the current era of globalisation, a manufacturing business needs to transcend the international borders to ensure success. India, with a 7.5% growth (projected) is among one of the leading emerging economies. A mere 5% improvement in the rates of customer retention can boost the potential profits by more than 25% in one go.
Although English is widespread in the Indian government, educational systems and businesses, it is still important to understand the importance of local languages in India especially the ones that have a business opportunity.