The big news in the world of retail and ecommerce this month is that Amazon has simultaneously become a one trillion dollar company while pushing into the Indian market. Yes, being a trillion dollar company is the bigger story in the world economy, but what’s interesting about Amazon and its focus on India is that it’s doing it in Hindi with the release of its smartphone shopping app as it tries to compete with Walmart’ acquisition of Flipkart .
It makes sense, according to the most recent census in India, as only 14% of the Indian population speaks English. This still rates it as the second biggest English speaking retail market behind the US, but Hindi is the mother tongue of 43% of the population. When you consider a population of 1.4bn, this addressable market is greater than the potential number of consumers in the whole of the United States.
Looking beyond Hindi though, with this size of population there is even more potential for businesses to localize in India. The census would suggest that 57% of this massive population speaks a different language as their mother tongue, but while these languages may only make up under 10 percent of the population per language, the numbers are still huge.
For example, the 8% who cite Bengali as their mother tongue (according to the same census data) is 112,000,000 people, and that’s ten times the population of Belgium.
At this point, when looking at a multilingual country like India, where many people speak multiple languages, we might start to have a semantic conversation about the languages that are understood in India and the mother tongue, but in this competitive, digitally disrupted world of content marketing, of telling stories, of context, of personalization, and of being human, I imagine that saying hello in someone’s mother tongue is going to be a lot more engaging than a competitor who chooses not to.
Clearly, to do business online in India, language has to be top of mind for marketers, as our VP in the region Praveen Rao discussed in this video highlight from a recent Paul Writer event .
One of the business needs which drives a sophisticated content management strategy and separates out enterprise systems from the herd is the need to manage content variants. Often, when we think of variants we think of personalization or A/B testing – but managing multiple language variants of the same content is of course the mother and father of this requirement and it’s not always simple.
As the Amazon news underlines, to make an impact in the market, to be heard by the consumer, to be engaged with and trusted, localizing content is great in any market. But for a brand to take advantage of this huge opportunity in India, it’s a must.
Of course I wouldn’t be writing this unless censhare had first class management of content variants, a workflow engine to manage the process, translation memory capability and all the good stuff that enables our clients to manage multiple markets from one platform, but you can learn more about that here .
So, follow Amazon’s example and say नमस्ते !
Or maybe beat them to the next 100m consumers and say হ্যালো