India's great diversity in languages has made it difficult for multinational businesses to penetrate the market. For a long time, the Internet, as well as computer and mobile devices would not cater to these indigenous languages and therefore prevented millions of people from instantly communicating with each other.
As a result, the relationship between the international company and potential consumer was at a distance and made business less profitable and less personal. Today, however, in a bid to crack into the Indian market, brands like Gionee, Intex, Lava and Samsung are outfitting their mobile devices with keypads that support 22 regional Indian languages.
Websites, mobile smartphones and mobile apps are increasingly providing native language options in a bid to keep customers more connected in the South Asian country. India is home to a population of more than a billion people and nearly 1,652 mother languages, though only 23 languages are used officially.
The introduction of native language supporting devices in India opens up a new frontier for businesses. More than ever before, brand-name companies can tap into the profitable potential of India's large working population that are looking to spend their hard-earned money on quality products and services.
As a necessary first step, however, international mobile businesses and startups would need to embrace quality localization as one of their first steps to penetrating the South Asian country's market that is worth billions.
Localization addresses the obstacle of language, which is a huge challenge for businesses looking to cater to the non-English speaking populations of India. Businesses that develop well-localized websites and mobile apps for these population pockets have a greater chance of keeping their end users happy.
Indeed, millions of Indians are hungry for a friendlier experience with an international company that can offer them quality products and services.
Importance of Language Localization in India
Quality language localization goes beyond just translating the content of a mobile application or website to a new language. It involves taking into account the idiosyncratic social and cultural nuances and sensitivities that help the consumer feel safe and secure with using or buying the business product or service.
In a nation like India where regions, dialects, states and cultures are rich in number, language localization is essential because not every Indian individual is comfortable using English.
Contrary to what a Westerner may think, although English is one of the official languages of India, today, only about 20 percent of the Indian population are English literate. Instead, Indians largely communicate in the regional languages of Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Bengali and others.
According to a report released by the Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), India's Internet users amounted to 353 million as of June 2015. The same report noted that the number of native language-speaking Indian users is growing by 47 percent year-on-year and totaled 127 million in June 2015. This is due to a greater access to smart phones in the rural parts of the country.
The IAMAI report found that the number of native language Internet users in India is outpacing the number of English language users. Moreover, it found that 47 percent of urban mobile users prefer to surf the Internet in their native tongue, joining a substantial segment of rural and semi-urban users who do the same.
Language Localization Essentials
Here are five essentials towards securing a successful localization that every business targeting the Indian market must consider:
- Strategy: Create a strategy for penetrating the target market, the base of users and their native tongues.
- Technological Support: Pair up with the right technology provider who can optimize your business' scalability and profitability.
- Scope of Content to be Translated: Determine the content material to be translated and whether it is static or dynamic within the app or website program. Website or mobile app information that is updated constantly requires a live translation.
- Customer Experience: Translated text and aesthetic layout and fonts should all work to provide an easy-to-use experience to the consumer.
- Plans and Budgeting: A business will have to work out the scope and scale of what it is able to do on the business front.
Indeed, the whole process of localizing to an Indian language need not be intimidating, pricey or extensive when the moment arrives to pick a localization partner. Technology has advanced so much now: localized code can seamlessly integrate well with the host code.
Localizing a website or mobile app to an Indian language does not necessitate a change in the source code, which allows for scalability, and saves the business from having to adopt time-absorbing changes to their existing code properties. The whole process is simple and worthwhile as the business seeks to present a friendly face to the end consumer.
The Benefits of Localizing for the Indian Market
Here are a few of the benefits to localizing a business website or mobile app to an Indian language:
- A one-time localization effort pays off huge dividends as it enables you to greater penetrate a market of more than a billion people.
- The number of sales is boosted because the consumer better understands the service or product better.
- Customer retention increases as the multi-lingual availability of the website or mobile app allows for a greater consumer trust in the services provided.
- More and more languages can be added to the multi-lingual website or mobile app platform, including non-Indian languages. This would grant the business an international, not just a domestic, reach as well.
The potential for business growth in the newly opened Indian market is tremendous and a veritable gold mine for both domestic and international businesses looking to gain more customers. With every new Indian language that is added to a company's digital platform, the business can better connect with its prospective clientele.
The quality of a company's customer service need not be sacrificed and, indeed, is enhanced when the company adopts a new language to its platform. Expertly communicating in the target audience's native language helps guarantee an optimal buying experience for the consumer, which is a requisite for finding business success in India.