India entry strategy for a global language learning platform


Establishing product-market fit for a European language learning app by understanding the nuances of language learning in an Indian context and be able to capture their share of mind and wallet, since the product was a paid offering.


A multi-directional strategy that scoped market competition and decoded potential user segments. The outcome outlined client effort across three main domains: 1) value additions in the existing product construct reflective of user needs, as a lift-off strategy  2) redefined positioning through ‘localization’ of marketing strategies that aligned the core product offering with inherent learning practices across India 3) proposed innovative business and pricing models that can cater to the skepticism around the credibility and effectiveness of online methods of language learning. Proposed strategy also ensured creating formidable USPs and sufficient entry barriers to competition as the market is already abuzz with several Local Language-to-English learning apps.

For a country whose majority population continues to prefer traditional in-class methods of learning, paying for an online learning service can be considered a big leap. Contrary to some apprehensions around e-learning, the country witnessed a quadruple rise in educational content being consumed on YouTube in 2018 alone. Turian Labs’ regular practice of trend-scoping suggested that the overall mental model and maturity of the population to accept an e-learning service was on the rise. This was also evident during our secondary research that was able to map out behavioral and environmental factors facilitating the growth of paid e-learning startups, the success of MOOCs in India, massive user base for the platforms like Duolingo, etc.


A European language learning app, primarily a B2C platform provider approached Turian Labs with a preliminary understanding of the Indian language learning market, through previous rounds of traditional market research. The aim was to find deeper nuances of product-market-fit and non-linear strategies, if any, to build their presence in India.

With an approach that blends traditional Design Thinking with Futures Thinking, Turian Labs team conducted fast-moving iterative cycles that enabled the validation of client hypotheses and the generation of new ones. This rapidly convergent line of inquiry and synthesis in a collaborative manner helped the client immerse into the context quickly.

Contextual interactions at home & workplaces made the team realize that when it came to learning a language, apps helped fulfill only parts of a language learner’s journey. Existing language learning apps were all heavily built on a ‘gamified’ and ‘mobile first’ premise.

The synthesis and insights gathered from Turian Labs’ extensive competitor analysis, multi-city empathic interactions and prototype testing manifested themselves as 3 actionable outcomes:


  • Multiple personas based on the learner’s purpose/goals, availability of resources, motivation/drive, and their socio-economic background. This information enabled us to find diverse go-to-market avenues.

  • Identifying user needs helped us define key value propositions, add or subtract product features and come up with relevant messaging for each target group.

  • Turian Labs also helped ideate around overcoming local perceptions about learning through an app by recommending deep-rooted changes with respect to pricing and business models along with revamping the interface or app structure.

We also envisaged scenarios with potential pitfalls in running a similar strategy while catering to a larger target audience down the line. Turian Labs also suggested risk-mitigation measures with multiple future-facing actions for their upcoming products over the course of years (long-term strategy). They are currently in the process of prioritizing and inlaying the recommended features into their current app ecosystem.