Why the FMCG industry must embrace regional languages

Rajan Venkath, a middle-class salaried individual who received all of his education in Tamil, was unable to complete his grocery shopping when he visited a superstore in Thanjavur. Reason: Rajan was not fluent in English, which was used for the majority of the packaging for these FMCG products. Being a staunch vegetarian, he did not want to take any chances, and as he could not read the labels in English, he went home empty-handed. This is only one of many examples to demonstrate how crucial language localization is to the Indian FMCG market.

Although approximately 95% of the content is in English, only 10% of the Indian population is fluent in the language. As India’s Tier 2 and Tier 3 populations become more digital, there is a demand for content to be created in vernacular languages. Brands now have no choice but to go for local languages.

Vox populi Vox dei

Nestle India Chairman once stated that India has many Indias, each of which requires a unique approach. This is a fitting statement in the context of rapid globalisation. Due to their ability to cater to regional tastes, penetrate farther into the hinterland, and advertise and promote to customers in their native tongues, several home-grown brands have supplanted international consumer goods businesses, particularly in the food segments of tea, snacks, and biscuits. 

FMCG behemoths are already aggressively pushing localisation to the last mile in order to counter regional competition, combat the onslaught of local brands, and expand penetration and reach in the local markets. These companies want to take a large slice of the Indian market, which is concentrated in rural and remote areas. And they understand that providing information to these customers in a language they understand is critical. 

Why FMCG needs to invest in regional languages

India is a country of diverse cultures and languages. With over 22 official languages, it is no surprise that FMCG companies need to utilize the power of localization of languages to cater to the needs of the local population.

Language localisation enables FMCG companies to reach out to their target audience in the local market. It enables them to effectively communicate their message and establish a strong brand presence in regional markets. It assists them in developing a strong brand identity and a strong customer base in the indigenous market. When product information is provided in regional languages, the customer experience will undoubtedly improve. It enables them to provide a better understanding of their products and services to the indigenous population, resulting in increased customer loyalty. It enables them to form strong bonds with their customers and expand their customer base across the country. 

Language localization and right to information

In 2018, the then-Minister of Consumer Affairs publicly requested that packaged products be labeled in Hindi and regional languages to help consumers identify them. He had urged the industry to do so voluntarily so that consumers can benefit from it. There were also calls to make the MRP (maximum retail price), net weight, manufacturing and expiry dates larger in order to increase transparency, but the majority of the FMCG industry chose to avoid it. What they frequently forget is that not only are they missing out on a large segment of their consumer base, but this is also required by the Right to Information Act. 

An easy way to provide critical product information in every language is to create a webpage for every SKU, translate it into multiple languages and add a QR code on the packaging for the customers. Anyone interested in seeing product information in a different language can simply scan the QR code and access the product information in their own language. This can go a long way in demonstrating the seriousness and commitment of the brand towards its customers and can win hearts globally.

The government too needs to play a more active role here by creating mandates for the industry in the interest of Indian consumers. 


With the economy growing and people’s purchasing power rising, consumers shall be flooding the market with their thick wallets, searching for products that they can trust and love. While advertising still plays the largest role in creating a brand and attracting consumers, delivering 100% transparency on the product, its ingredients, components, usage guides, user manuals and expiry can further catapult a brand to the next level of customer centricity and delight.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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