Why localisation should be a big deal in India

Why localisation should be a big deal in India

Tuesday November 21, 2017,

4 min Read

Done right, localisation can make your business more useful to a wider audience, leading to increased sales and higher revenue.

Lately, there has been much discussion in the media about the localisation of businesses, specifically language localisation.

But most such discussions fail to drive the essence of this subject to their target audience. It might be because they either miss out on the significance of data-backed material or they underestimate the reach of laymen language by using technical and marketing jargon that are difficult to relate to by an average reader.

And that is why I have decided to write a series of posts on the topic. Let’s start with the most basic question:

What is localisation?

Localisation is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific market to appeal to the linguistic, business, cultural, and social patterns of the target audience belonging to that particular market.

Although language is an inherent aspect of localisation, it is not just limited to language transformation. For example, translation of content from one language to that of your target market is just a small part of the localisation process. In addition to translation, the localisation process may also include:

  • Adapting design and layout to properly display translated text
  • Converting to local requirements (such as currencies and units of measure)
  • Using proper local formats for dates, addresses, and phone numbers
  • Addressing local regulations and legal requirements, etc.

Simply put, localisation is the process of making your business more useful to a wider audience, which leads to more sales and revenue.

Why localise in India?

Because India is a multilingual country. That’s why.

DataMail's secondary data study throws up some interesting numbers on the most spoken languages in India :

The total population using these languages is around 1,147.95 million, which accounts for almost 89 percent of the Indian population, forming the consumer base for language localisation.

According to a TRAI report, there are currently 325 million internet users in India (mobile and broadband). Of these, 195 million are local language internet users.

Nasscom forecasts that, by 2020, 75 percent of new internet users would be consuming data in local languages. According to the forecast, rural India will be the predominant growth factor in the Indian internet user segment.

Given that regional content on the internet stands at less than 0.1 percent at this point of time, the scope for bridging this gap is tremendous. Google, by its own admission, states that it has seen 10-fold growth in local language queries over the past one-and-half years.

At a recently held Nasscom Product Conclave, it was mentioned that 60 percent of chats on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are in regional languages.

These numbers represent vastly ignored territories. Businesses are already waking up to this fact and are localising their products and services. Practo Ray, for instance, has localised their SMS alerts in order to reach out to a larger patient base. Their conversion rate in T6 non-metro cities is a whopping 60 percent.

Localisation helps businesses reach beyond their immediate markets. It increases sales and, in turn, overall business growth. It is imperative that businesses understand the “first mover advantage” before the market goes into full-throttle localisation mode.

What next?

Well, physical businesses have always understood the importance of localisation.

A great example of a market product that got it just right is in the fast-food sector. McDonald’s has reached the far interiors of India by targeting a variety of products specifically made for the consumer. The Big Mac would have never succeeded in a country like India where 80 percent of people do not eat beef.

Instead, Macdonald’s offered us the Maharaja Mac (even the name is aptly Indian, and catchy too) with chicken fillers, which are a delicacy in India. McDonald’s has managed to stay ahead of the competition by showing that it cares and has succeeded in speaking directly to the people, taking cultural sensitivities into consideration.

There are several successful examples of such localisations in the Indian market.

However, digital businesses are yet to come on-board. The first step towards successful localisation of online businesses starts with accurate language technologies facilitating language localisation.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)