What do other Indians think of Marathis

Five factors to consider when locating for India

India will have developed into the third largest consumer goods market in the world by 2025 - and the market with the largest middle class in the world. Consumer spending will quadruple by 2030, when an estimated 1 billion people will have internet access. If you want these people to buy your product or service, then you need to translate your website.

India is often mistakenly viewed as an “English first” market. The 1.37 billion people there speak 122 languages ​​in 1,599 dialects. There are 13 different fonts. Only 10% of the population speak English.

According to the constitution, there is no single “national language” in India. Instead, there are 22 official languages ​​which the Government of India refers to as "listed" official languages.

You can find out more about interacting with customers in such a linguistically diverse country in our whitepaper "How to conquer the Indian market with localization".

So where do you start? How can translation buyers even approach such a linguistically diverse market? Below are five key factors your company should consider for successful localizations:

1. "English-first" is a myth.


The alleged dominance of the English language in India is a fallacy. Point. Because of this long-standing myth, global advertisers still like to assume that it is enough to run campaigns in English only. The fact is that around 10% of people speak English fluently, but only as a second language. Translation is not just a wish, but a necessity for this and other Indian consumers. 90% of Indian shoppers say they expect full localization of products and marketing materials. 70% even consider content in their local language to be more reliable than information in English.

2. In India, linguistic diversity is a social and emotional reality.


The variety of languages ​​spoken in India is impressive. But the statistics do not convey the full extent of this emotionality associated with the linguistic diversity of the country: the geographical borders - the 29 states of India - were drawn along these linguistic areas. Most of the people in the state of Bengal speak Bengali. The people of Assam speak Assamese. Kashmiri is spoken in Kashmir. But that's not to say that these are the only languages ​​spoken there. Indians generally speak several languages ​​regardless of where they live.

This geographically defined linguistic separation also reflects ethnic, historical and religious differences - beliefs and values ​​that go back further than the history of many Western nations. Even when people speak more than one local language, they may prefer to read or speak only in their mother tongue. And mostly not because of a linguistic preference, but rather because of regional and cultural ties. If companies or people try to force a language on them, it will not only be viewed as an insult, but it can also hurt a deeply rooted pride.

Hindi in particular is very problematic. It is the most widely spoken language in India - but its use is a hot topic and arouses many emotions across the country. Hindi is also an official language in the country, but certain areas refuse to recognize it as a "national language". That is why there is always controversial discussion about whether it is necessary to formally impose the language on non-native speakers of Hindi in everyday life.

Given the emotional nature of this topic, it is no surprise that consumer linguistic preferences play an important role in purchasing decisions. Global companies have to find their way around this complex linguistic landscape by localizing products, services and content in the language that best fits the desired target market regionally and culturally. In addition, by choosing the right language, companies can maximize penetration of the ever-expanding Indian market landscape.

A skilled translation service provider can help you determine the best languages ​​based on the following demographic data and insights:


  • Hindi is currently the fourth most widely spoken language in the world. Bengali comes seventh and Punjabi tenth.

  • It is estimated that there will be 201 million Hindi speakers online by 2021 - far more than there are English speakers in India.

  • At the same time, around 30% of internet users will be native speakers of Bengali, Marathi, Tamil or Telugu.

  • By 2050, Hindi, Bengali and Urdu will not only be common in India - all three languages ​​will be among the five most widely spoken languages ​​in the world.

3. The smartphone is the trump card.


India is currently the second largest smartphone market in the world. Consumers in western countries often only buy technical devices because they want to keep up with their neighbors or friends. Indian consumers are different, however, says Lionbridge Country Head for India Sarath Divella: Indians generally buy for functionality reasons: “Indians are not consumers who care about their status and brag about their watch, smartphone or other item want. They depend on the functions of a product. ”So the products and apps they buy on their phones have to meet a real need. 4G smartphones are currently available from just over EUR 60 and data are also comparatively cheap: around USD 0.23 per GB per month. In the US it's still $ 12.37. That is why mobile use is exploding: India now has one of the world's highest data usage rates per device.

This new mobile range also extends to rural areas of India: a largely untouched market so far, in which far fewer people speak English than in urban regions. In combination with the e-commerce and demand generation possibilities of the Internet, millions and millions of previously inaccessible Indians can now become willing users of your product content. E-commerce and e-transactions on mobile devices are on the rise and are processed via platforms such as the Flipkart and Snapdeal shopping apps, Amazon and the Paytm e-wallet app. (And as more and more business is being carried out cashless, more and more Indians are shopping through these e-wallets.)

It is estimated that 536 million Indians will be using local languages ​​online by 2021, eliminating the ancient myth of India's “English-first” market once and for all. If you want to benefit from this technological revolution, you have to rely on localization.

4. But it is not just technology that continues to develop, the behavior of consumers themselves is also changing.


The urban and rural areas of India are converging. Not only in terms of access to technology, but also in terms of brand affinities and, to a certain extent, also in terms of living standards and technology-driven purchasing patterns. And that's not the only change affecting Indian society and people's buying behavior.

First, the country's middle class is growing steadily. A good 50% of Indian households currently belong to this economic category. The middle class - responsible for 75% of all consumer spending in India - is expected to make up 80% of the population by 2030. Note: Just as the term "middle class" means something different in Great Britain than in the USA, India also has its own definition for it: The term is very broad in India and describes both street vendors who buy smartphones or televisions Upper-middle-class technocrats buying cars and luxury goods.

And the following generations also have more and more purchasing power. Above all, Millennials (people born in the late 1980s to early 1990s) and Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010) are now shaping consumer tastes across the country. Almost half of the world's millennials live in either India (440 million people) or China (415 million people). By 2030, 77% of Indians will be Millennials or Generation Z.

The market power of these two generations is based not only on their number, but also on their technical expertise. As a group, they make extensive use of the internet and social media. Because of their importance to millennials, these channels have also become important sources of consumer spending insights. Millennials are informed buyers. They have the ability to quickly decide what they want and then delve into a product's features and see what it really offers them.

Of course, the characteristics of middle class and millennial are not mutually exclusive. But both groups have at least one decisive characteristic in common: while the purchase decision traditionally depended on age and income, the decisive factor in India today is the question of whether a buyer has access via a smartphone - digitally or online. “If you look at the many Indians between the ages of 25 and 35,” says Divella, “you can see that they consume and process virtually all content and all transactions virtually via their mobile phones. It doesn't even occur to you to get a desktop or laptop computer. You're not one of those people who own a lot of different devices. Often they only have one device: their mobile phone. ”The more connected consumers are, the more likely they are to make well-founded purchasing decisions, use premium services and become loyal customers of a brand. If you cannot rely on your company to provide you with product and service information in your native language, then in the future you will choose competitors who can. That's what a 2014 study by Common Sense Advisory, a localization research firm, found. 55% of shoppers worldwide say that language determines whether they do business with a company.

5. There is a big difference between what freelancers can do and what a translation company does.

From a translation perspective, the Indian languages ​​are such a diverse market that in the past companies have often relied on freelancers instead of working with professional localization providers. These freelancers were often not professionals: professors looking for a part-time job, foreign students, bilingual employees. The disadvantage of working with people who speak the language but don't understand much about translation is that the texts are usually overly formal and stilted. As a rule, the actual marketing message of a company does not reach the customer. In the case of B2C products, which often only sell if the advertising is conspicuous or striking, the actual product characteristic was often completely lost. In addition, the coordination of freelancers is cumbersome, logistics and quality control are a nightmare with 22 languages.

Companies switching from freelancers to language service providers save the time required to coordinate resources. You can also rest assured that translations are overseen by a project manager who ensures the correct tonality. You need a localization partner who specializes in Indian languages ​​and does not see them as just an addition to its range of translations for German, French or other European languages. A competent partner will also support you with insights, as described in this article, so that you are able to tailor content to the Indian market in a nuanced manner.

Here are some other points to keep in mind:


  • Experience with global multilingual marketing campaigns, especially for the national market and regional markets in India.

  • A full range of localization services, from translation to transcreation and up to vocalization. Whether you want to have a language app translated into Hindi or want to localize a website in Malayalam - if you decide on a single provider, you don't have to search again and again.

  • Translation technology that gives you the choice between machine and human translations, depending on your needs. Engines should be well trained in the target language, which in itself is a challenge. Not even Google Translate offers translations into all Indian languages.

  • Technological integration that optimizes translation and localization with your existing technology platforms.

  • Consulting services from a partner who is not just a provider, but who can provide you with expert, trustworthy and long-term advice on localization issues and answer all your company's questions about the Indian market.

  • Extensive knowledge of the market: So that you can easily navigate the cliffs of the Indian market such as regional customs, idioms and cultural idiosyncrasies in the various states and languages. You need a language partner who can not only translate your content precisely, but also keeps you and your content up to date with individual messages and regionally relevant cultural references.

It all sounds very complicated. But remember: In addition to the big and innovative names, there are many other companies in the highly competitive Indian market. Firms of all sizes are exporting to the country, trying to siphon off their share of the booming market. Even if there are 22 official languages ​​in India, you still need to find the right globalization strategy for your company. Because with the right localization strategy and competent support, the world is open to you.

To learn more about localization strategies in India, read our white paper or contact us.