Consumer Internet Companies Should Take The Language Leap

Arvind Pani

The online world has integrated itself into all aspects of our everyday lives. Mature English users are known to spend more than 10 hours a day hooked to their gadgets, and local-language users are not far behind. The Internet and leading businesses housed in it are becoming increasingly consumer-centric. As they exponentially expand to include local-language consumers, it has become imperative for them to address their target audience in their native languages. Multilingual interfaces increase profitability and offer deeper market penetration by bridging the language disconnect. Consumer companies offering online services are clearly taking a step towards localisation as evidenced by the rise in Internationalised Domain Names (IDN).

The Internet is rapidly becoming the default option for consumers seeking information in developing countries like India. The digital Indian market offers competitive advantages and high revenues by moulding customer experience patterns with growth in the usage of Internet. Bangalore-based Reverie Language Technologies, a market leader in providing language technology solutions to enterprises and consumers alike, is pioneering a change in the data consumption habits of local-language digital consumers. This is in line with the plans announced by companies such as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. who are already working on enhancing the experience of local-language digital customers in India.

India has over 300 million people online. Leading smartphone players say that this is the right time to enable these consumers with the power of language-enabled smartphones to blur the lines of language accessibility online. The consumer Internet companies seem to have paid heed to this strategy and are rolling out multilingual interfaces of their portals to tap into this new consumer segment. Multilingual interfaces create trust and increase cultural comfort, which are marketing breadwinners in traditional economies like India. Snapdeal, which has jumped on the multilingual bandwagon with offerings in 11 languages through partnership with Reverie, is being joined by leading names such as Quikr, Ola, Practo, and so on. According to an Internet study, businesses who have gone multilingual have seen their reach increase by at least five times in the first three months.

As India moves towards becoming the second-biggest smartphone market with more than a 250-million user base, it is not only important to bridge the language gap, but also to provide relevant content and services for Indian language users. If India is aiming to bring the next 500 million users online, then localisation of consumer Internet-based platforms is the key. Smartphones have a deeper market penetration in India compared to desktops; hence, the brand’s ability to localise its interfaces will impact its visibility and accessibility.

A prominent challenge faced during localisation is maintaining the accuracy of content conversion from one language to another without losing its meaning. Reverie has engineered the Language-as-a-Service (LaaS) platform, which enables enterprises with digital presence to go local within days, depending on the complexity of the enterprises’ business infrastructure. There is a need for automated contextual conversion, especially for e-commerce players targeting local-language users like Snapdeal, where new products are uploaded on a daily basis. Localisation offers equal access and ease of transaction to all users. Reverie offers contextual localisation using the domain-intelligent LaaS platform, which provides translation, transliteration, intuitive input, content discovery, and aesthetic display solutions across languages, thus giving business insights to acquire more customers.

As per data available with Reverie, local-language users make 5% to 15% of its clients’ existing user base. This number can be expected to grow further as established companies are enhancing their offerings in multilingual platforms. According to a 2015 Mashable article, for a better search engine optimisation and maximum market penetration, companies should understand local-language search trends. Going multilingual can help companies collect data on such trends to stay ahead of competition and include impactful vocabulary in their marketing languages.

India’s Internet companies have attracted more than $10 Billion in investment from venture capitalists and other investors. This underscores the potential for market reach and growth of Internet in India, strengthening the case for companies to recognise the attractive opportunities of investing in localisation as a gateway for maximising business growth, investment and profitability.

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