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Cross Category Trends- Market dynamics, changing attitudes, open opportunities and new challenges

Cross Category Trends: Market dynamics, changing attitudes, open opportunities and new challenges


Brands assert purpose

to reinforce relevance

To reinforce their relevance in the lives of consumers, more brands are creating an emotional connection based around purpose. Tata Tea positioned the morning drink to youth as a wake-up call urging civic engagement. P&G, in partnership with non-profits, established schools in rural areas. Surf Excel, a Hindustan Unilever detergent brand, is prompting a conversation with parents about moderating the pressure on children to succeed in school. Pepsi promoted its Mirinda drink, aimed at teenagers, with a campaign called Release the Pressure, aimed at improving communication between parents and children to raise awareness that excessive expectations for success in school can have negative emotional consequences. BrandZ™ analysis found that service sector brands entering the India ranking this year score particularly high in Purpose, one of five BrandZ™ vital signs that contribute to brand health.


Categories grow,

and consolidate

Rumblings of consolidation shook several categories, for a variety of reasons. After over a decade of rapid growth, achieved both organically and through acquisitions, the e-commerce leader Flipkart reached an inflection point. Its decision to sell a majority stake to Walmart should enable Flipkart to better meet the strategic requirements for sustaining growth long-term. For Walmart, the acquisition, pending regulatory approval, potentially provides major online presence, expanded access to Indian consumers, and local market insights. In the telecom providers category, consolidation happened as brands sought the best way to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market, disrupted by the price-driven Jio brand. Final approval for the merger of Idea and Vodafone will produce India’s largest telecom provider.


Affordability drives

on-demand viewing

On-demand entertainment is expanding rapidly for several reasons, including: the greater availability of content from providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Indian brands like Hotstar; the sharp reduction in the price of data, driven by the rise of Jio, the telecom provider brand; and the expansion of 4G networks. The number of mobile users in India reached 478 million in June 2018, according to estimates by Kantar IMRB and the Internet and Mobile Association of India. Not long ago, the exchange of WhatsApp messages was a primary use of data. Today, watching digital entertainment is now the No. 1 reason that people in rural Indian access the internet on their mobile devices, and it is the No. 2 reason for urban people. People of all ages are viewing videos and other content during their free moments. The rapid rise of streaming and broad access to local content throughout the country impacts how, when, and where Indians consume data, and opens new opportunities for brands to reach people with more targeted and personalized messages. Some brands already are partnering with content creators.

Health and Wellness

Multinationals meet

Patanjali challenge

The appeal of the Patanjali brand’s ayurvedic products, and its nationalistic messaging, challenged multinationals, which introduced brands that more closely meet consumer expectations. Unilever has a personal care range called Lever Ayush, which is its ayurvedic response. Colgate introduced an ayurvdedic toothpaste, Swarna Vedshakti. Indian brands also countered the Patanjali challenge. Tata introduced an ayurvedic Tea, and Tata Salt launched a health-related campaign about the importance of product purity, since salt is a such a ubiquitous food ingredient. Dabur, one of India’s heritage ayurvedic brands, gained strength. Meanwhile, Patanjali continued to expand its range of FMCG items and entered new categories, including apparel. Patanjali also partnered with leading e-commerce platforms for the first time and expanded its sales team.

Narrowing the Divide

Greater reach adds

multiple challenges

Because of technology, in the form of personal devices and internet connectivity, people across the country have access to the same information—often on WhatsApp or YouTube. Divisions remain in how people access technology, however, with wealthier urban dwellers more likely to join a brand with an ecosystem that includes e-commerce, payments, and other functions. In contrast, rural people rely on mobile phone apps less for shopping and more for practical benefits, like weather reports or news, that help in their daily lives and connect them to the rest of the world. For brand marketers, reaching people throughout India has become easier, but reaching them in the most effective way is still challenging.

Opening a Divide

Consumer savviness

opens another gap

Income is improving for India’ poor, but much more slowly than for India’s wealthy. A related gap has opened that divides people according to their knowledgeability as consumers. The savviest consumers not only scour the market for the best values, they also understand the market’s promotion rhythms and can time their purchases accordingly. This shopping acumen sometimes deflects bargains away from the neophyte consumers. The phenomenon clearly disadvantages new consumers, and it also complicates the effort of brands to reach them. This development is another example of how in rapidly changing India brand success requires obtaining fresh insights rather than relying on old assumptions.


Societal changes create

new marketing cohorts

In India’s changing and more mobile society, young people today are more likely to move away from home to find employment. This development impacts brands in several ways. The “New Nesters” need all the products necessary for setting up new households, and their need for time-saving convenience increases demand for packaged meals. The relocation of young people also fractures the nuclear family structure and creates new needs for aging parents who cannot depend on the traditional family support system.

Senior Citizens

As youthful India ages,

brands fill new needs

Because India is a relatively youthful county, with an inhabitant median age of 27.9, brands have been slow to pursue a growing opportunity among senior citizens, particularly people who recently turned 55. Many of these people are still healthy, active, and affluent, compared with earlier generations. The Carvaan brand markets portable music devices that play only retro Indian songs. The nutrition drink Ensure is positioned as “Live Non-Stop.” Travel brands are recognizing the trend. And real estate brands are developing assisted living centers, which become more necessary in India as young people travel to other cities for work and are not available to care for aging parents.


Local tastes travel

in mobile society

Localism—the deep connection to a specific geographic location or culture—emerged as a companion trend to nationalism and the preference for all things Indian. Indian consumers have always been devoted to the food and cultural heritage of their home cities and villages. Today, in India’s more mobile society, these distinctions are part of the baggage Indians bring when they move to a distant part of the country. People want to sustain their loyalty to local products and brands, especially in FMCG and personal care. These preferences add growth potential for brands, but meeting the potential requires managing more complex product portfolios and commanding sufficient retail shelf space.

Gender Roles

Brands advocate

for social change

Gender roles are changing in India, and opportunities for woman are expanding, although more slowly than in less traditional societies. Brands are both reflecting and leading this change. Long positioned as a beauty soap bar used by movie stars and other celebrities, Lux has refined that message to expand the definition of beauty to encompass more than only physical attractiveness. The ITC soap brand Vivel advises women to “Never Compromise” in pursuit of their dreams. Ads for Hamam, a Hindustan Unilever soap brand, illustrate how a mother’s advice can strengthen a daughter’s self-confidence. The Indian sewing machine brand Usha sponsors a program that provides rural women with sewing machines and teaches them entrepreneurial skills. Rather than communicate about making clothes whiter and brighter, the Hindustan Unilever detergent brand Rin address the problem of water scarcity and the inordinate amount of time rural women spend collecting water.


More ads feature

consumer content

In an effort to establish a level of authenticity not always achievable with celebrity brand ambassadors, some brands are putting the consumer at the center of their marketing. For example, using the tagline, “There is a hero in me,” the two-wheeler brand Hero has featured consumer content, including short videos and social media photos created by ordinary people describing their extraordinary accomplishments. Typically, a two-wheeler brand would select a sports celebrity to represent the brand, ride its vehicles in ads, and represent the fantasies of the consumer. In this reversal, Hero depends on consumers to represent the brand.