BITS and Pieces

Get global. Get ahead.

5 reasons why businesses should consider localising into Indian languages

We all know how businesses have an insatiable hunger to grow, and rightfully so. A lot of money and hope rides on the back of every investment and growth is the only answer, no matter what the question. Every day, newer strategies are hatched in boardrooms across the globe to help businesses penetrate newer markets and increase their market share.

These strategies have always centred on how to take businesses global. However, somewhere along the way, it dawned on the powers that be, that one had to actually go local to be able to truly go global. That is when businesses started using language as a strategy.

With language becoming a strategy and India, with its billion plus people, emerging as a lucrative market, can businesses afford to ignore the languages we speak?

Here are four reasons why it is absolutely time for businesses to consider localising their website and marketing material in at least one Indian language, if not more:

  1. Over 82% Indians do not understand English

Those living in cities live under the illusion that English works in India. Well, a mere 0.02% of our population speaks English as their first language and only 12.83% of our population understands English. This means if you are selling your products in India, over 82% Indians will stare back at your marketing material blankly if it is in English.

The message, as the now-famous title of a research article published by Common Sense Advisory suggests, is loud and clear. Can’t read, won’t buy! If I can’t understand your marketing literature, I will not buy from you.

  1. Urban markets are saturating

Think of e-commerce companies such as Amazon or Flipkart or even luxury car brands such as a Mercedes or a BMW. They have captured urban markets, but those account for no more than a little over 30% of our population. The next phase of growth for these companies and many more businesses will therefore come only if they penetrate deeper into rural markets.

Most of the 12.83% Indians who understand English are concentrated in urban areas. This means to penetrate deeper into rural markets, businesses would have no option but to localise their content into vernacular languages.

  1. More internet users prefer to browse in their language

Buying patterns are changing. People have moved away from actually walking into shops to buying online. A Google-KPMG report published in 2017 tells us how India had 409 million Internet users in 2016 and only 175 million of those preferred English, while the majority, that is the remaining 234 million, preferred to browse the Internet in Indian languages.

With the report clearly stating that by 2021, a whooping 536 million of the 735 million Internet users in India will prefer to browse the Internet in Indian languages, businesses that aspire to grow would have to actively consider localising their websites and marketing material in at least one Indian language, if not more.

  1. Technology-enabled, human-powered, low-cost solutions are here

Gone are the days when translating into Indian languages meant the pain of finding the right translator, negotiating prices that were too high for your liking in the first place and then dealing with potential quality issues. Technology is beginning to change the face of how your experience is going to be.

We now have some great technology-driven, human-powered translation solutions that come at incredibly low prices, reduce time-to-market, do away with quality issues and can be customised and automated to suit your needs.

  1. We must do this for our people

Imagine being forced to buy practically every product you use in a language you do not understand. You only know what you want to buy, but have no way to compare products, read reviews, escalate complaints or benefit from online help if you do not speak a certain language. Scary, isn’t it? Well, that is the predicament of over 82% Indians. They are being sold to in a language that is alien to them.

Responsible businesses would therefore do well to be way more empathetic and reach out to consumers and customers in a language they are comfortable with. So much for changing their user experience, while increasing revenue.

The way ahead…

If you would like to use Indian languages to penetrate deeper into regional markets, contact us to know more about how we can help. You could write to us at projects@bitsindia.co.in or simply call us on 83800 31438 to start a conversation.

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Sandeep Nulkar Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, BITS Private Limited Sandeep Nulkar heads one of India’s largest translation and localisation companies. He is a linguist by passion, businessman by choice and author by circumstances. Over the past decade, he has been working closely with the corporate world and with students and the academia to bring credibility and recognition to the Indian translator within and outside India.