Many categories will see surge in regional spends as IPL coincides with festive season: Heeru Dingra, WATConsult

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Heeru Dingra, CEO, WATConsult

In conversation with Social Samosa, Heeru Dingra from WATConsult highlights the changing landscape of the A & M Industry with a focus on vernacular marketing, regional trends, and the significance of 'local' languages in Tier 1 & 2 cities in India.

WATConsult recently unveiled its report on ‘Digital, Diverse & Multilingual India’, sharing insights on digital content consumption patterns of Indian users across local and regional languages & their preferences. In conversation with Social Samosa, Heeru Dingra, CEO, WATConsult sheds light regional content trends, the role of AR/VR in vernacular marketing, regional marketing trends in the new normal, and much more.


With regional content clearly being the way forward, in terms of audio & video both, do you have any tips for brands on how they can integrate regional in their content & communication strategy?

With the rise in internet usage among Indians, there is an all-time high demand for localized content. So, as part of their communication strategy, brands can create content in the regional dialects that are entertaining, appealing, and easy to understand. India, being a diverse and mobile-first country, the availability of content in regional Indian languages is the main growth driver for online video content. Many local languages led content platforms (like video & audio streaming apps) have already emerged and are garnering traction because of their lingually diverse offerings. 

As per our report, most Indians prefer to access the internet majorly in Hindi, Punjabi, and Tamil apart from English. 

The report also points out that brands belonging to the categories like instant messaging, video streaming, music streaming, and travel apps are the ones most preferred in various lingos by the users. Taking into consideration this changing behavior of the Netizens, it can be said that the brands must provide their services in multiple languages in order to increase their user/consumer base. The 'Made In India' smartphones are whole-heartedly adopting this strategy. The language of their packaging and user manuals is in accordance with the region of the sale and by aptly understanding their customers, they offer tech support in various regional languages.

What kind of a role does AI & VR play in vernacular marketing? How can brands & agencies leverage it? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) play a huge role for brands and agencies in terms of delivering the desired ROI. Proving their high efficiency, these technologies have been successfully integrated into numerous strategies. In the most obvious sense, they are powerful because they allow the consumers to get up, close and personal interactions with the brands or their products. But when we look at it more closely from an advertising perspective, there is a lot that they bring to the table like, improving buyer awareness, accelerating the purchasing process, and offering more personalized choices to the buyers, just to name a few.

With a substantial bi-lingual consumer base in our country, leveraging these technologies to market regional content to the desired audience might just be the way forward.

A number of e-commerce brands have been investing in regional interfaces. How do you see this trend progressing & its subsequent impact on the festive season?

E-commerce brands have realized the potential of local languages and started building products to utilize that same potential. There are, however, very limited options for the consumers to switch between English and the dialect of their choice while shopping on these sites as of now. 

There are technological challenges that the e-commerce brands face while developing products in the local language such as properly implementing Natural Language Processing (NLP) and providing refined translations support. Moreover, India is a diverse country with multiple dialects, making it a mammoth of a task and extremely challenging to process and train such a large data set. But hopefully, the rapid advancement in this domain will result in the overall inclusivity of the internet in India, very soon.

When starting with regional communication, which are the cities that brands should focus on, for maximum engagement? 

Brands can focus on towns and cities belonging to the category of small towns, having a population of fewer than 5 million, as they are witnessing a surge in users accessing the internet. With the advent of 4G, the abundance of inexpensive handheld devices, and cheaper rate packages, these are the areas generating most of the first time internet users.

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Please share a few consumer behavioral trends witnessed in the Tier II & III markets, that brands need to look out for 

Our report highlights that users belonging to the small towns and cities of India have started using the internet recently and are mostly accessing it on their mobile phones. They use the internet several times a day and also find it comfortable to access it in their regional dialect.

Most of the users are spending on average 30 minutes a day, to watch videos on YouTube and stream music, both preferably in the local language.

With the festive season around the corner, which categories will be spending the maximum in terms of ad spends in regional languages? 

Indians are known to increase their expenditure around the festive season and every year we see brands pitch to attract their attention. Keeping consumers at the center and recognizing the significance of the local language, will prove to be a game-changer during this season. It could be safely said that brands would definitely benefit from capitalizing on the fact that more and more consumers prefer to access the internet in a more relatable dialect. 

While categories like eCommerce, FMCG, Automobile, Consumer Durables, etc are witnessing a surge in regional language spends, with IPL coinciding around the festive season in 2020, most of the categories will see an increase in the advertising demand.

Do the increasing internet users in regional languages have the potential to help the industry on the road to recovery, post the COVID-19 impact?

The fact that people using the internet in regional languages is increasing certainly opens up a new field of possibilities for marketers, brands, and agencies to explore and leverage it to their advantage. It definitely has the potential to balance out any setbacks faced due to COVID-19 for the marketing and advertising industry. Moreover, this new set of audience will allow the generation of new content and an opportunity for innovation, which will be a big boost to the industry as a whole.

Regional marketing trends you foresee for the next quarter?

The next quarter is bound to see brands adopting ‘local’ in all its forms. With the current focus on all things local, the increased demand for regional content, and the ever-growing number of first-time internet users, marketers will want to focus their efforts on being regional-friendly. We have estimated that close to 70% of all internet users will access the internet in the local language by the end of the year 2020, making it all the more pertinent.

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