Enabling the right multilingual technology will ensure access to a larger consumer base for businesses offering services such as online shopping, job and matrimonial searches, and cab and auto bookings.
Our family driver in Bangalore, Bipen Mahapatra, hails from Cuttack, Orissa. While his native language is Oriya, he speaks a bit of English and Hindi. His 24-year-old daughter, Shabonti Mahapatra, works for an IT company in Mumbai. Like most Indian women of that age, she is being nudged by her parents to find a life partner.
Shabonti asked her parents to “find” her a match online and to send her their recommendations. Her parents promptly signed up on a marriage portal, only to find much to their disappointment that the classifieds were in English. Bipen later expressed his vexation at being unable to navigate the site satisfactorily because of language impediments.
Thimmaya, an electrical engineering graduate from the little town of Pennadam in Tamil Nadu, aspires to move to Chennai for better job prospects. He hoped that if he registered with job classifieds sites, it would be easier to look for a blue collared job. But to his utter frustration, the sites were in English, a language he neither speaks nor reads.
The above two examples highlight the importance of language for classifieds businesses to communicate with their target audience.
The Indian classifieds market is rapidly growing and is expected to touch revenues of close to Rs 8,000 crores by 2020. The reasons for this growth are several: increase in urbanisation and disposable income, a large chunk of the population being youth, and lastly and more importantly, the increasing use of smartphones and internet penetration.
Those who have recognized this potential include the two biggest horizontal platforms in the online advertising market, OLX and Quikr. Horizontal platforms have no single specialisation and include a variety of services (such as jobs, automobiles, real estate, etc.). They also stand to benefit the most by attracting most users because of their vast repertoire. Recognising this language gap, some Indian businesses like OLX (available in Hindi) and Quikr (available in 7 languages) have already gone multilingual.
Vertical advertisers, which concentrate on one specific product, have been slower to catch on despite the tremendous potential. None of the real estate, jobs and recruitments or matrimonial sites have been localised so far.
However, growing numbers indicate that a shift is imminent: a study by KPMG and Google pegged revenues of online recruitment classifieds at Rs 726 crore in 2015 and project as much as Rs 1500 crore in 2020. Government initiatives like ‘Make in India’and ‘Start up India’ will also provide an impetus to growth in online recruitment sector.
A study by IAMAI claims that increase in local language content on the internet will lead to a growth of 39 percent in the internet user base. According to the report, rural India will be the primary driver of this growth (75 percent) while the growth will be 16 percent in urban India.
If only Bipen could have browsed the matrimonial site in Oriya, he would have had a much easier experience in finding a suitor for his daughter!
If brands and businesses want to increase their market share, they must aim to increase their share in the consumer’s heart. And the way to a customer’s heart is through their language.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)