The rule of English was over in India in 1947 but the English language still stays. However, according to Google and KPMG, the language no more dominates Indian internet users anymore.
The need for more localised materials extends to brands looking to advertise in India. This ongoing shift means that tech companies will have to reinvent themselves continuously and will need to constantly invest in making their services available in a range of local languages, often referred to collectively as “vernacular” in India.
A report published by Google and KPMG titled ‘Indian languages – Defining India’s Internet’ provides a comprehensive overview of the Indian language ecosystem and key behavioral aspects of Indian language internet users.
Indian language internet users will drive the next phase of internet adoption in India and will be more than 2.5 times of English internet user base by 2021. The report also analyzes key categories of the internet ecosystem and varied adoption levels for the Indian language internet users. Etailing, online government services and digital classifieds would witness highest growth in adoption rates across Indian language users till 2021.
In addition, the firms predict that the number of Indian language internet users will grow to 536 million by 2021, far outpacing the growth rate foreseen for English language internet users.
This paradigm shift is caused by decrease in the prices of smartphones and their wide accessibility which results in smartphones being adopted by consumers outside of urban areas—a group less likely to speak either English or Hindi.
The government is empowering the process further with plans to invest more than $350 million in increasing digital literacy in rural areas with initiatives like 'Digital India'. In addition, the drop in the cost of mobile date plans has made data-intensive behaviors like watching online videos easier than ever for consumers
Gulshan Verma, chief revenue officer for Times Internet believes the push toward content in local languages is still in its early stages. “We’re talking with some brands about creating not only English-language content models, but also content in local languages like Hindi,” he said. “I would argue that most people are not making enough content in local languages.”
eMarketer's previous report on India stated that digital will take up nearly a third of daily media time in India. This year, the average adult will spend an estimated 1 hour 18 minutes per day with digital media.
KPMG in India and Google expect that chat apps, digital entertainment and social media will each have least 300 million Indian-language users by 2021. Meanwhile, Indian-language internet users engaged in ecommerce will number 165 million by 2021, up from just 42 million in 2016.