Why Vernacular Advertising is Key for Brand Success in India

In 2014, Lufthansa launched a ‘More Indian than you think’ campaign to attract first-time and non-English speaking flyers. They built the microsite in five different Indian languages. They also made banners in English and vernacular languages, which were advertised in English and vernacular media, respectively. The results were very positive, as Lufthansa’s campaign boosted passenger growth by 13%

Surely, a part of the credit for the campaign’s success goes to vernacular advertising! 

Vernacular advertising is a type of advertising that uses local languages and cultures for advertising and attracting customers. Vernacular advertising is effective in a diverse country like India, which speaks over 22 official languages.

Why Are Vernacular Ads Important?

Deeper Connection

Vernacular advertising help brands build a personal and emotional connection with customers. According to David Ogilvy, brands can persuade people by using the languages they speak and think for advertising. Research shows 88% of Indian language users are more likely to respond to digital ads in their language than in English. 

Better Brand Awareness

With so many brands vying for customers’ attention, speaking to customers in their preferred languages helps cut through the noise and create better brand awareness.

Reduces Ad Cost

Since the targeting is laser-focused, brands can quickly reach the right customers without spending too much on advertising. 

How To Create Vernacular Ad Strategies for Brand Success?

1. Understand the Culture and Region

Cultural practices, behaviors, and beliefs vary in different regions. Use these insights to understand the customer’s needs, create ads, and tailor the messages to make them relevant to the customers. The advertisement should explain the brand’s value proposition and resonate with customers simultaneously. It should focus on building a deep connection with the customers. That will help improve conversions. 

2. Choose the Suitable Format and Channels

India is experimenting with new content formats and channels. According to Google, Indians use voice search twice the global average. In fact, voice search has grown more than 200% Y-O-Y. Similarly, homegrown short-form video content like Moj has popularized videos in vernacular languages. 

Today, 90% of video consumption is in vernacular language. Study the content format and channels the target customers use frequently and promote the campaigns accordingly. For example, if target customers prefer videos, promote the campaign on short-form video apps. Similarly, ensure that the content is optimized for voice search. 

3. Don’t Translate Verbatim

Typically, ad makers think in English and use translators to convert it into local languages. While this might be cost-effective, a lot of meaning and nuances are lost in translation. Eventually, the campaign fails to build an emotional connection with customers. Avoid literal translation. Work with local creators to capture the nuances and create region-specific ads. 

Take Meesho, for instance. They went hyperlocal by shooting their ads in Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil, further amplifying them in other vernacular languages. This hyperlocal form of advertising helped Meesho build resonance among the target audience. 

4. Collaborate with Local Influencers

Influencer marketing in India is estimated to reach over $28 billion by 2026. There’s no doubt that influencer marketing has the potential to help brands reach a wider audience and generate more sales. However, such campaigns will be more effective if brands collaborate with local influencers and micro-influencers of that region instead of working with mega-influencers with a pan-India presence. These micro-influencers have a small fan base, but they convert better due to their loyal followers and are most cost-effective. 

Take the example of Khatabook. The fintech firm collaborated with local and micro-influencers to create videos and posts in multiple vernacular languages. The campaign boosted Khatabook’s brand visibility and increased the app’s install volume by 60%. It achieved 1 million downloads through this strategy. To use influencer marketing, identify and collaborate with local and micro-influencers relevant to the specific region. 

5. Measure the Outcomes

Measuring campaign effectiveness is essential to know if it’s working. Define the goal. Is it to increase brand awareness or increase app downloads? Next, define metrics and measure them regularly to ensure the campaign succeeds. These metrics could include engagement, conversions, return on investment, etc. 

Modern marketing platforms have built-in analytics to help brands measure the campaign’s effectiveness. It helps them make data-driven decisions on optimizing the campaigns and improving the strategies. 

What Next?

The future of vernacular advertising looks bright, as brands don’t have to publish ads in multiple regional newspapers or TV and radio channels. It’s easy to collaborate with local content creators and influencers and leverage vernacular social media platforms to create campaigns. 

However, there are some challenges brands must pay attention to. For example, there are over thousand dialects spoken in India. So, it’s challenging to get the nuances of all languages right. Also, many languages remain unexplored. Brands could also face challenges validating each ad and ensuring they adhere to the branding guidelines. 
While it might take time to overcome these complexities, brands can start by understanding the target audience deeply and implementing the above strategies. To that end, they must use modern marketing tools like programmatic advertising platforms to increase ROI on campaigns. Reach out to us to learn more.