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Can the Indian Language First Customer Please Stand Up! Let's contemplate a few thoughts in advertising or marketing currently followed in the digital space that make local language customers feel tossed aside

By Arvind Pani

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Let me start this conversation with a question. Have you ever found yourself lost in a place (could be a mall or a city) where you aren't able to find your way out because there exists a language barrier between you and every person around you? How would you feel?

Well, that's exactly how a local language customer feels when he finds himself on a digital platform that doesn't speak his language.

Let's contemplate a few thoughts in advertising or marketing currently followed in the digital space that make local language customers feel tossed aside.

Scenario 1: Bombarding the customer with info in a language based on their location rather than a language of preference.

We have come across a standard display of marketing strategies seen over varied industries that involve 'geo-based customer targeting.' To explain this, we have the regularized notifications or ads that we receive on our digital platforms in languages related to area code or GPS trackers rather than customer preference based on language. (Meaning, your customer could be from Kerala, preferring information in Malayalam who receives messages in Kannada just because he/she is in Bangalore.)

Result: Language barrier leads to lack of interest even in potential customers. This is a loss for both ends, both marketer and customer.

Scenario 2: Perception that the local language customer is 'Unlettered.'

Here we have a strategy commonly followed on e-commerce sites, wherein reviews are shared as images. This would mean that a customer would have to decide based on the image on display rather than a well-written text in the customer's preferred language. Again resounding aloud that the customer is incapable of reading a text-based content review.

Result: All these show a lack of customer significance, making a local language customer feel barely esteemed on a digital medium.

Scenario 3: Using visual cues to fulfill a customer's expectation of a digital experience or journey

For instance, I was browsing through a website that displayed several visual cues such as 'shopping carts and other icons and images to move a customer to click on the buy button. It made me feel like I was back in kindergarten. I also thought that it only helped me as a customer to browse through the site and get directions on how to go about shopping, but it left me minimally informed. I felt that the attempt to keep your customer versed with the product at hand was unskillfully handled. What if I had a query or wanted further information on the product at hand? Where were the reviews that would convince me that I was making the right decision on a purchase? All those questions were left unanswered as all I had were a few images and an unacquainted language on the screen. That's exactly how any Indian language customer would feel when they see Greek and Latin in the form of an unfamiliar language that they barely know and only have icons or images to help them maneuver through the platform. In most case scenarios, when questions to queries aren't answered on a platform, most potential customers go elsewhere to find them.

Result: A poorly informed customer is a misplaced customer.

Considering the above situations, the questions that come to mind would be 'Why should an Indian language customer be treated any differently when compared to an English literate one in a digital space?', 'Why shouldn't a customer have the right to read or educate themselves on products or information in a language that he/she finds most comfortable?', 'What makes a local language customer lose favor in the eyes of the digital industry?'.

Don't you think we all deserve to be fed information and be given the right to information in a language of our choice on any digital medium?

There is a dire need to change the standards of digitalization in terms of a person's right to read in their local language on all digital mediums.

However, this is just one part of the story, and there is another part that needs to be addressed.

The Misconception: Language localisation of digital mediums will help products sell themselves.

Yes, most industries that turn to localisation of their digital sources are of the understanding that if languages are adopted, the sale is closed. The answer is NO!

Adopting languages on a platform or a medium of information will better help customers understand your product or service. Still, before they know the same, they have to "find the same'.

By just following language localisation, marketing is not complete. The regular protocols or strategies followed in branding a product or service will have to be continued to drive your target audience to the localised platforms. The rest will unfurl based on the product's or service's standing in the market.

So, in conclusion, language equality over the Internet would allow all Indian Internet users to find, educate, and meet their needs and open doors to all industries to better serve their target audience with information they need. Thereby becoming a win-win situation for all!

Arvind Pani

CEO, Reverie Language Technologies

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