1. Be Indian
The rise of Indian nationalism does not mean that Indian consumers automatically prefer brands with Indian provenance, but it does mean that they prefer brands that respect their culture, understand their preferences, and communicate in the appropriate language and tone. A brand does not need to be Indian to act Indian.
2. Be emotional
Indians are now inundated with brands that have a product or service to sell, and are reaching them all the time on multiple screens. Being different and being heard requires presenting the message in an emotionally compelling way that helps cultivate a relationship that is more than transactional.
3. Be a leader
As India enhances its global profile, the impression of Brand India rises and consumers outside India potentially become more receptive to Indian products across categories. Continue to be entrepreneurial, but match entrepreneurship with greater innovation.
4. Embrace multiple India’s
The urban-rural divide is an outdated binary concept. Successful brands understand that there are many India’s, and these distinctions can be geographic, cultural, or economic. Economically, as the middle class expands, some people rise to the top, to an elite status, while others are left behind. Brands selling to those who have succeeded need to remember those still struggling. It demonstrates leadership.
5. Meet desire with affordability
It is not just about price anymore. Indian consumers want the same things that affluent consumers worldwide seek, which is, depending on the category, quality products with style and design, or trustworthy products with healthy ingredients. If there is a difference in India, it is that Indian consumers remain price conscious. They seek value, but value now includes more considerations.
6. Build trust
Skepticism is on the rise. Consumers are likely to search the internet to test the veracity of brand messages. Build trust by acting with consistency. Deliver on all brand claims. And when the brand comes up short, admit to a mistake before it is broadcast all over social media.
7. Cultivate Meaningful Difference
The India Top 50 Brands with high Meaningful Difference are twice as valuable as brands with low Meaningful Difference, which is a BrandZ™ measurement of whether consumers view a brand as Meaningful (meeting my needs in relevant ways) and Different (distinctive and trend-setting). Consumers typically describe Meaningfully Different brands as trustworthy and caring.
8. Gain a digital edge
Digital India is not simply a government slogan. Throughout India people are spending more time on their smartphones—for entertainment, e-commerce, or banking. Astute digital strategies and tactics are prerequisites for brand success. As in most markets, digital is growing faster than any other medium, but as often the case, India is distinctive: it is the only major market where traditional media continues to grow. Brands need to be present on multiple screens, and that often includes TV.