The power of native language

95% of online video consumption in Tier-II, III cities is in native languages

Effective communication is the bedrock of any successful marketing strategy. Communicating in a language your audience is most comfortable with, not only delivers the message effectively but also helps in building an emotional connection, thereby urging them to respond. This holds good particularly for a country like India, which is extremely rich in diversity. With 22 major languages and numerous dialects, a one-size-fit-all strategy is doomed to fail.
The ‘Desi’ Brand

Beyond urban agglomerates, a large section of the population resides in rural areas and small towns. These consumers with different linguistic practices and preferences prefer to view content in their own local language. If you look at print media in India, eight out of the top 10 publications are non-English. In fact, these publications such as Dainik Bhaskar, Malayalam Manorama, Eenadu to name a few are so entrenched in the daily lives of their readers they not only form the basis of tea/coffee discussions but also play a crucial role in their decision-making process.

For most online content, until recently, English dominated as the main language. This, however, has changed with increased mobile and internet penetration across the country, compelling brands to build customised content for users in a language the latter prefers and more importantly connects with.

‘Desi’ seems to be the new mantra as affordable high-speed internet and increased smartphone penetration is set to bring another 500 million new internet users into the fold – most of which would be from tier II and tier III cities. These users prefer videos over text and tend to download and share content more.

Video Gains

As against the previous generation of internet users, who were conversant in English and also tech-savvy, the next generation of users is the ones seeking content in Indian languages and that too, without typing. Their usage largely depends on audio, video and vernacular-language applications.

Smartphones along with reduced data costs and a dearth of online textual (written) content in regional languages have made videos the most popular as well as an affordable format for these users.

Being new to the phenomenon, these users also experience a higher level of FOMO (fear-of-missing-out), which is why they tend to download and share content more as compared with their peers. This builds the case of why brands are swearing by regional language videos to amplify consumer engagement.

Multi-lingual Approach

Taking the lead, social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin have gone multi-lingual, catering to the burgeoning user-base of native Indian language speakers. Facebook not only allows users to access the platform in a language of their choice but also lets businesses to create pages in regional languages.

Google’s YouTube has also seen a spurt in vernacular language content, both in terms of viewers as well as content creators in languages like Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, and Bengali. Mobile apps such as ShareChat, TikTok, DailyHunt, Lokal, and Roposo are also extremely popular among Indian language speakers. Especially in Tier II and Tier III cities, these apps with their extensive reach can be great platforms for maximising brand reach and engagement.

Many brands like Snapchat and BigBazaar have collaborated with regional content creators and influencers to create videos featuring their products in different regional languages.

Not restricted anymore

Companies are finding that it’s not just the end-user who stands to gain from multilingual branding efforts. In fact, it is beneficial for every stakeholder across the value chain - be it the retailer, distributor, manufacturer or supplier. Localised brand and product videos can be a great way of engaging with people from different cultures and languages within your own business. A distributor, for instance, located in a remote village, would find a product video in his own native language more relatable and engaging. It not only weeds out misinterpretations and inadequate communication but also helps in facilitating genuine collaboration and understanding among various stakeholders.

The use of regional languages also helps large organisations spread across the country communicate and connect with their employees in a far more effective manner.

However, a good understanding of cultural nuances is essential when creating localised content for users in different territories. A literal translation may not convey the complete picture and may even result in the loss of key information required for decision-making.

Clearly, the action now lies in the hinterlands. As companies gear up for the next cohort of internet users, companies need to reach out to their consumers in a language they understand and love to communicate in. With more people gaining affordable access to the internet, it has never been easier to reach out to your audience. Connecting with your audiences in the most personalised and relevant manner can not only help widen your brand awareness and reach and build greater collaboration and loyalty. So, are your marketing efforts geared towards producing content in the native language?

(The author is CEO, Think WhyNot Films. The views expressed are his own and may not subscribe to them.)

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