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GLOBAL 2016: Tension between modern and traditional is constant

It holds great opportunity for brands that navigate it well

by Aditya Kilpady
Senior Vice President, Planning
Contract India
Aditya.Kilpady@contractindia.co.in
 

Winning hearts in India begins with appreciating the fascinating winds of change in recent years. It’s like wooing. First comes interest and appreciation, which deepens to complimenting and inspiring each other. Finally, comes love and devotion. With median age of around 27, about 10 years younger than USA, India is a youthful nation. Among the key drivers of change is the Liberalization Generation, born after the 1991 political and economic reforms. Unlike previous generations that lived on simplicity, restraint and adjustment, the Post-Libbers were born into a world of fast foods, cola, satellite TV and technology. They are ambitious, driven and entrepreneurial. Their world is a heady cocktail of ambition, abundance and immediacy.

Another driver of change in India is the tension between India and Bharat (the original name for India). Two India’s coexist, the modern India of the upwardly mobile urban middle class and a more traditional Bharat India in lower tier cities, also leading a contemporary lifestyle, but more deeply rooted in family and traditional social values. Both manifestations of India offer opportunities for brands that understand the nuances. Domino’s Pizza, for example, provides efficient delivery to time poor executives in Gurgaon, while in Gorakhpur it offers a delightful outing for families who want to experience a cuisine out of the routine.
Key take aways for brand success in India include:
  • Deliver value through a promise, not just price.
  • Build trust by performance, empathy and innovation.
  • Teach, train and reassure the hungrier India from lower tier towns.
In addition, it is important to remember:
1. Value is cool.
Post-Libbers are smart, pragmatic and value conscious. To them, affordable doesn’t mean poor quality. Indigo Airlines, a local low cost carrier changed the business mantra for domestic travel. In a country always in hurry but never on time, Indigo took on legacy carrier and other low cost carriers with a simple yet unexpected on-time promise, proving that if the promise is delivered, paying less doesn’t mean getting less.
 
2. Performance matters more than lineage.
Ten years ago, where were the home-grown stars – e-commerce site Paytm, the OLX online marketplace and Paper Boat, maker of soft drinks in nostalgic flavors? Each brand found a need it the market. OLX let anyone buy and sell from home, for example. Each brand built trust based on competence, not special credentials.
 
3. Heritage holds power.
In less than a decade, Patanjali recorded a turnover higher than other FMCG companies managed over decades. Besides getting the price right, it innovated and focused on product efficacy. Most important, Patanjali offered a range of contemporary products inspired by Hindu and Ayurvedic traditions.
 
4. Tradition meets change.
Dating has always been nebulously defined in India. Is dating a casual meeting or a special romance? Women from smaller cities were hesitant about online dating because of safety issues and personal pride in a society where many marriages are still arranged. Truly Madly, a local dating app redefined a taboo called dating by providing platform for discovering companionship.