Brands that embrace localized content not only attract a wider audience through better recognition, but also build trust and an emotional connection, leading to increased conversion rates.
By Ankit Agarwal
When Lufthansa launched the “More Indian than you think” campaign in 2014, no one expected its success. The airline created digital advertisements in vernacular content and a microsite that catered to multiple Indian languages. The campaign succeeded in hitting all the right chords and increased passenger growth by 13%.
The success of the campaign became proof that English was not the lingua franca internet more. At least not in India, a place where 90% of the population speak vernaculars that span hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects.
Today, more and more brands, Indian and global, are experiencing the same eureka moment. To meet the needs of Bharat audiences, they need vernacular versions for their advertising campaigns.
Marketers need to embrace the regional twist
English can get the message across to consumers, but a real connection is made through communication in the local language. This is why regional creatives have a much higher click-through rate and why 70% of Indians find vernacular digital content more trustworthy than English, according to Google and KPMG.
An exemplary example of a brand leveraging regional content to reach a more targeted audience is Tata Tea. The beverage brand uses a hyperlocal strategy to tap into different states like Kerala, Haryana and Tamil Nadu. Instead of dubbing their campaign in Hindi in the appropriate dialect, they create region-specific ads employing a creative team from that state.
Brands that embrace localized content not only attract a wider audience through better recognition, but also build trust and an emotional connection, leading to increased conversion rates. However, such a targeted approach requires content in the very many languages that consumers speak and read.
The challenge of a language-driven market
Communicating in several dialects simultaneously is a tedious and exhausting exercise for brands, both in terms of time and cost. The emergence of apps like Dubverse, Skit, and 22 Languages that help create and distribute local language content is testament to this.
Producing thousands of multilingual marketing assets is just the first of many challenges. Another is that regional marketing cannot be homogenized. First, the product or service must be appropriate for the region. For example, a Havells fan for South India would require more rotations per minute than a fan marketed in Himachal Pradesh. Second, the message must be tailored to the local audience and take cultural nuances into account.
Simply translating an existing message into the required dialect is not enough. Every marketing communication should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the target region’s lifestyle, interests, and colloquialisms. This requires familiarity with the target audience on a large scale, and brands rarely have that.
The solution: localize content through influencers
A quick fix that most marketers have adopted is to collaborate with celebrities or mid-level influencers to reach consumers in local languages. The strategy is good, but it has two drawbacks.
First, these great creators are based in metropolitan cities. They may be fluent in a vernacular, but their fan base rarely matches the target audience, which lives mostly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and semi-urban areas. The tactic is like putting all the eggs in one basket, a basket for someone else’s kitchen table.
Second, using mega-influencers for sponsored posts and branded content is an expensive business that only a few brand pockets can afford. What drives brands forward are collaborations with nano and micro-influencers.
Find a better tangent with regional creators
Nano and micro-influencers are small creators with modest online followings. These creators trade in one currency: regional content, and while their fanbase is limited, it’s hyper-focused on a specific region and deeply loyal.
Partnering with them for campaigns bodes well for brands. The message is imbued with local flavor, the campaign brings concrete results and is profitable. With the same budget as a single intermediary influencer, a brand can work with hundreds of small regional creators.
More importantly, by bringing in small creators from various parts of the country for the same campaign, brands get instant access to content in different vernaculars all at once, enabling personalized advertising at scale.
Take, for example, KhataBook, a fintech startup that provides a digital ledger app for small and medium-sized businesses. It reached 1 million downloads using a vernacular content strategy. The brand leveraged hundreds of static and video creatives produced by influencers in multiple Indian languages to increase brand visibility. As a direct result of the campaign, the app’s install volume jumped 60%.
The only obstacle to collaborating with hyper-relevant regional content creators is finding them. An influencer marketing technology platform solves this problem easily. When brands rely on a platform to accurately identify influencers, automate campaign workflow, and measure impact, the complexity and cost of a multi-language pan-India campaign is dramatically reduced.
Reach a billion faces and a million languages
David Ogilvy said that when you try to persuade people, “use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.” Distilling the words and they involve a strong marketing strategy with an emphasis on the vernacular is crucial.
However, simply translating or transliterating campaigns in English or Hindi into a dialect is not enough. Keep in mind that marketing is not a mere understanding. It’s about persuasion.
To win over a billion faces that speak a million languages, brands need the finesse of a paintbrush, not the brute force of a hammer. And there’s no one better at building a persuasive narrative in the right lingo than nano and micro-influencers.
The author is founder, Do Your Thng
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