The Next Billion Consumers

In today’s day and age of global brands, their growth strategies are focused on the next billion consumers – those located mainly in China, but also in other parts of Asia, Africa, and South America. It’s not only the sheer size of the populations in these countries that are whetting marketers’ appetites. Increasing access to the Internet and more disposable income mean there is an entirely new and untapped user base to market for and that has money to spend.

China is the usual suspect when talk drifts to new market expansion, and it’s not an easy market to enter. For companies who have been there and done that, however, another country is top of the mind these days – India. Go-to-market strategy for India presents a unique challenge, not the least because of the linguistic fragmentation of the Indian subcontinent.

Consider this: Hindi and English are the only official languages on the national level in India. However, there are an additional 21 languages that are official in various states and union territories.

The Next Billion Consumers

It’s anything but straightforward to figure out which language companies should localize into when going to India. While they might just get by with English only, the total addressable market will remain only about 10 percent of the 1.3 billion Indians. On the other hand, localizing for any of the other languages of India opens up access to several tens and hundreds of millions of potential customers.

Even the top e-commerce retailers battling for supremacy on the Indian market, Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart realize English only gets them so far. Amazon has been beta-testing a localized Hindi version of the storefront, while Flipkart offers a localized mobile app and has plans to localize its website too, and extending language support beyond Hindi.

There is historical precedent localizing beyond just English and Hindi in India. IT giants such as Microsoft and Facebook have been doing so for years now. There is a budding language service provider landscape in the country too, more than capable answering the demands of modern localization programs. 

The billion beyond the next billion consumers may very well be residing in India. English will not be enough to reach them.

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