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The Role Of Vernacular Content In Digital Marketing

The time is just right for a digital revolution first hand and making the most of this opportunity of accessibility

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India is a diverse country with more than a billion people speaking over 30 languages in 1600 dialects. With more than 234 million native Indian speakers on the internet, this potential market cannot be underestimated. Like every other medium, digital marketing also requires catering to this segment of the population to expand a brand’s reach. While English has been the most popular medium for content thus far, recent trends indicate that Indian language users are increasingly consuming information on the internet. Currently, most of this in the domain of news and entertainment. However, in the next five years, and with leverage from the Digital India initiative, 9 out of every 10 users will be consuming content in one of the Indian languages.[1] 

According to research, the vernacular content user base in India is estimated to grow to over 540 million by 2021, which would comprise 75% of Internet users at the time. Statistics indicate that for about 60% of these consumers, lack of availability of relevant content is the largest barrier for adoption of online services. This is a huge opportunity that can be leveraged to attract the untapped user base. The main aim of every digital marketing campaign is either to spread awareness about the brand or get direct conversions. For either of the two objectives, it is important to reach maximum people. Due to lack of vernacular content, majority of the potential buyers are untapped. 

The popularity of vernacular content can be attributed to the fact that it is simple and accessible to the majority. Most of the consumers are on smartphones, which makes it imperative to send out mobile-friendly crisp content. Moving on from news and entertainment, vernacular content is spreading out into digital classified ads, payment platforms, and e-commerce sites as well. It is thus important that the marketing campaigns are designed keeping the vernacular content consumers in mind.

The period of experimentation and study is upon marketers and advertisers as they look to seize the opportunity of growing digital literacy. For instance, a native banner ad may not suffice or be the best route to choose and therefore the trend of local influencers is on the rise to reach out to the masses in a language that they are comfortable in and can relate to. The digital market consists of 88% internet users who naturally respond to digital advertisements in their local language superseding English. This substantial majority has given reasons for marketers to reach out to local social media influencers to promote their products in local languages.

One example that demonstrates the successful use of vernacular content is the campaign undertaken by Lufthansa. The airline created digital ads and a microsite with support for content in several native languages, which resulted in a passenger growth of about 30% in India alone. Another example is WhatsApp, which embraced this shift by allowing 200 million monthly users in India to change the language from within the app itself.

It is time for change. Change from an English monopoly on the Internet – and a language that many Indians don’t understand. Even though building content in English is far easier and faster than in Hindi or any other regional language, it is worth the time and effort if there is a large audience waiting for it. Owing to the effort of a few innovative businesses, it is now possible to construct a ‘Digital India’ free of linguistic fences.  

In conclusion

Vernacular users have sadly been the segment not tapped into in the past. Regional content availability can propel internet growth in India by a massive 24%. The time is just right for a digital revolution first hand and making the most of this opportunity of accessibility.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Abdulla Basha

The author is Co-founder, Social Frontier

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