With over 210 million internet users in India preferring vernacular language over English with an annual spending power of $300 billion, start-ups may have to rethink ways to reach out to consumers.
RedSeer Consulting, a Bengaluru-based research and consulting firm, came out with a report that says Indian vernacular users are expected to create a $3 billion digital ad opportunity for the new-age full stack content players in the next five years. The research was conducted on 3000 people across 121 cities and towns in India. The report states that out of existing 530 million active internet users, 260 million are 'monitisable'. Of these, 80 per cent or 210 million users, who have the ability to drive the growth of consumer internet with $300 billion annual spending power, prefer vernacular language.
With 'monitisable' users expected to grow to 400 million in the next five years, vernacular digital ad spends are also expected to touch $3 billion by 2023. Anil Kumar, Founder and CEO, RedSeer says that top-50 cities In India today account for less than 20 per cent of internet user base, which is expected to decrease in the next five years. By 2023, India's internet user base is expected to reach 850 million. In such a scenario, Kumar says, It becomes important for advertisers to look at the user base from a 'monetisability' lens and understand how the time spent by these users on internet is changing, as the vernacular platforms now account for 56 per cent of overall time spent on social media.
Are companies geared up to make this shift?
Umesh Krishna, General Manager - Brand Marketing, Swiggy says while companies do spend on digital marketing, only 5-10 per cent of digital revenues are targeting vernacular users.
Vanda Ferrao, Head of Marketing, Licious agrees. "While ad spends by close to 50 per cent of companies are on digital, only around 5 per cent is spent on vernacular content creation. Both argue that hurdles exist in tapping the opportunity. One, talent crunch. Writers in vernacular languages with the local sentiment and flavour are far fewer and start-ups are finding it difficult to get the right talent. Two, the cost of vernacular marketing, which is much higher compared to a general campaign and the ROI is always in question and sometimes becomes difficult for management to justify.
So, how should companies bridge the gap? Kumar says the next couple of years will see the vernacular platform develop that will aid the spend. "Today there are platforms like Dailyhunt , TikTok , Sharechat and a few OTT players. We are still in nascence with respect to platform maturity and also the users," he adds.
Over the next couple of years while the number of platforms are set to rise, building vernacular touch points will become critical for start-ups. Right from awareness, user interface and experience, product description to post-purchase servicing and integration of vernacular touch points through the experience will decide much of the growth of start-ups in coming years.