Jyothirmayee JT, Founder & CEO of HiveMinds, delves into the reasons behind the success of vernacular languages in social media campaigns.
A country where only 125 million people speak in English out of 1.3 billion people, vernacular is the way to communicate with this incredibly diverse and massive group of people. This non-English speaking people are also most active on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
According to a study by KPMG in 2017, the Indian language internet users are expected to account for nearly 75% of India’s internet user base, and as today’s trends suggest, the local language audience is growing by the day. The need to be local in your approach makes sense for business houses who are trying to attract vernacular yet digitally active consumers.
If we look at FMCG conglomerate P&G’s inspiring story around a 72 years old person going to school revolves around a Bengali narrative and background song – the reason is to connect!
Vernacular connects and bonds with the audience and consumers well. Who does not know India as a country responds to emotions better than any other factor? In a way, you can say India is an emotional country where vernacular is the way forward as it is the language, or languages in this case, of the people.
Based on a true story as claimed by the company, the story of Badrinath aka Bitto reflects the aspiration of many village children who wish to pursue education. However, with no available means to chase their dreams, such wishes remain unfulfilled. This is where P&G’s Shiksha made a contribution and developed schools in those areas.
As per the campaign, whenever you choose a P&G product, a part of it goes towards providing holistic education to underprivileged children. Using vernacular to stand apart among the masses is not new but yet steadily finding its footing among the new age consumers.
A giant like Facebook already has adopted Vernacular content. It also enables users to use the platform in the language of their choice. Likewise, Facebook offers business houses to create pages in non-English language too.
Vernacular growth stories
In India, local language internet users to grow to 536 million by 2021 as compared to just 199 million English language users, an NDTV Gadgets report said. It is quite clear why Indian marketers should craft their communication/campaigns/advertisements in vernacular language.
Take the example of different bloggers and vloggers who are using online channels to reach the target. One blog post of recipe blogger Nisha Madhulika in Hindi got a massive 5.3 lakh plus readers.
Another example to understand the impact of vernacular would be NewsDog which is an app launched by a Chinese entrepreneur in Indian vernacular content. His venture received over 50 million downloads and raised $50 million in funding.
myUpchar, a health platform in Hindi has been accessed by 10 million users and looking to serve 500 million Indians. Vokal is another vernacular forward platform which allows users to ask questions and answers in their own language with voice and video functionality.
With the increase in the vernacular user base and growth in the content in regional languages, now brands are looking at using regional languages to target the audience, and this has become an integral aspect of both offline and today digital marketing as well, in India.
India as a country hails for its diversity. One part of the country speaks in one language and cherishes different food habit and culture than the other part of the country. Additionally, with Jio’s deep penetration, the non-English speaking community has larger access to understand the other part of the country using smartphones. The dual power of affordable smartphones and the internet has fuelled the growth of the digitally active vernacular audience.
If we see the country’s language diversity, we have over 20 official languages and over 6000 dialects, making it difficult for a Karnataka businessman to speak with a businessman in Karnal. This very fact puts us in the question that how does this India communicate with the world on the internet and its English form and design?
Interestingly research says that local language internet user trusts an online platform that shares information in their preferred language including Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, etc more compared to an English site. Also, online channels like YouTube and Television have larger penetration than English newspapers. As a report says the largest newspaper caters to only 2% of the country, whereas, more than 25% watch YouTube & TV. This also decodes another consumption trend-
For new Indian consumers, text content is not the most preferred format of content consumption and adopting regional content in video formats lends better for brands trying to reach their audience.
Acquiring knowledge is the most natural human tendency. This drives us to check our WhatsApp forwards, and not always for frivolous content.
This vernacular and digitally active community want progressive information. They seek equality of right to use. They are curious to know, understand and evaluate. But don’t take them as a low-income group as against the popular belief. They might have a plethora of attributes but the common thread is that they aren’t English speakers, and are well-giving rise to an industry that will drive meaningful engagement for both brands and consumers alike.
This article is authored by Jyothirmayee JT, Founder & CEO HiveMinds a unit of Madison World.