So vernacular is the only way to go.
Everybody is bullish on the Indian market. With a population of 1.3 billion, we're 4 times the US. But that would be a little exaggeration, so let us drill down a bit.
The number of Indian internet users is around 430 million. And post the launch of paid services of Jio, I believe the growth has become more stable. But wait, can all the 430 million people read English? No. So the number boils down to an optimistic 50 million. You just lost 90% of the population right there.
And that is the very problem! The acceptance of this drop is so widespread that it bothers me.
The heavy weights have already figured it out
It is only logical that regional content resonates more with the audience. Companies like facebook, google, twitter, etc have all figured that out so much earlier. Facebook launched support for hindi in 2012, google in 2013 and twitter in 2011. And then it came as no surprise that brands on these platforms started getting higher engagement on their posts.
These platforms have continually strived to support other indian languages too and now you can find almost all of the Indian languages on them.
Vernacular is the way to go in India
Here are some facts taken from a study recently conducted by Google and KPMG.
- Indian language internet user base grew at a CAGR of 41% between 2011 and 2016 to reach 234 million users at the end of 2016 as opposed to 175mn english internet users.
- Indian language internet users are expected to account for nearly 75% of India’s internet user base by 2021.
- 60% Indian language internet users stated limited language
support and content to be the largest barrier for adoption of online services.
- 68% Internet users consider local language digital content to be more reliable than English.
- 88% of Indian language internet users are more likely to respond to a digital advertisement in their local language as compared to English.
- ~44% Indian language internet users finding it difficult to comprehend product description and customer reviews in English.
And there are many more of such intuitive insights. The vernacular content space is heating up.
ShareChat, a regional language social networking app, just raised their series B $15mn last week.
Pratilipi which works in indian language publishing and reading, has been doing quite good with 500k+ installs and 4.8+ rating on play store.
Tinystep, a parenting and childcare platform that I have previously worked for, went from 1mn to 8mn in traffic within a few months as soon as they launched their content in regional languages.
Even the BBC, just announced the launch of services in new Indian lanugages.
There is no perfect anything
Well, now is the time we question the title of the article!
There is no perfect tomato sauce. There is no perfect mustard. There is no perfect coffee. Actually, there is no perfect anything.
This was the idea popularized by Howard Moskowitz. After experimenting with different combinations of ingredients of the items mentioned above, Howard found out that no one combination was actually liked by all the participants of the experiment. People usually existed as groups who loved a particular combination. This teaches us the importance of diversity in us.
There is a really amazing TED talk Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce on this topic by Malcolm Gladwell which I absolutely recommend watching.
Connecting the dots, all I wanted to say is - every product that you will ever design will have its consumers clustered into some finite number of groups who love a variant of your feature. Language is on the extreme end where a person can't even comprehend the content, let alone likeability. So it is only logical to say that vernacular is the only way out for businesses to expand.
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