Thursday, February 28, 2008

Localisation : Tapping a Diversity called India

OK. First a no-brainer. India is a vast market. It is the most unique and uncomparable country in the entire world. But what is not a no-brainer is that it can drive a marketer crazy. Take any aspect: religion, caste, language, clothing, food habits, et al. It opens the marketer to opportunities and challenges right from the beginning. As many MNC marketers have learnt from bitter experiences, India rewards those who speak its language. Oops...LanguageSSS!!! Yes, there is no single language that India can claim to represent ( inspite of Hindi) just like there is no single religion, climate or food et al.

The marketing implication of this occured to me at my previous company Crystal Hues Ltd. The company cliams to be the only Public Ltd. company in the area of multi-lingual communication services. It provides translation services for any Indian and International language through a well-networked and trained professional translators. Reputed companies localise their copies basically made in English language into Indian and even International languages other than English.

These localised campaigns help companies reach a wider mass. Actually localisation as a concept is not new, though it has received a boost after globalisation. The concept of localisation has been used by reputed companies to make a dent into the Indian market after their glossy and polished English products, services and communique either fail to impress or the steam runs out after acquiring a few sophisticated customers. Take the instance of the Chinese noodles or Pizza. The noodles became popular only after the chefs realised that the Indian pallette will not eat this bland one and added Indian spices. Chinese noodles is now just a misnomer. The same is the case with Pizza.

Even the communication became localised. Be it the yester-year heroes who start dancing hearing the McDonald's Happy Price menu or the recent Nokia ad where the granny calls the emergency battery using her mobile. This was not the case a few days back. During my days at the localisation company, during client acquisition, I realised that many were not aware of this and many felt it as unnecessary. However companies that were on an expansion mode and thought of reaching to masses beyond cities started embracing these services.

Govt. regulations have also forced companies to write their names etc in local languages or they may become the target of language fanatics. However companies have seen dramatic results by localising their products and also the marketing communication.

Going ahead, the localisation market will only grow and hopefully compensate partially for the lack of efforts of the Govt. departments that claim to protect local language and culture: the true celebration of India's diversity albeit in corporate style.