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India 2015: MARKET INTELLIGENCE | Market Characteristics: Consumers

Changing attitudes will impact brands

Indian consumers are changing. That much is clear from the May 2014 election result when voters elected Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Narendra Modi as prime minister, deposing the Indian National Congress party, which had governed India almost continuously since the country’s independence in 1947. 

But how are Indian consumers changing and what do the changes mean for brand building? The Futures Company examines these questions in its Global MONITOR, a perpetually updated resource for consumer and social trends and insights across 24 countries.

Especially important, The Futures Company found that Indians today feel more empowered. In a notable shift, almost three quarters of Indians surveyed in 2014 agreed with the statement, “I feel I can make a difference to the world around me through the choices I make and the actions I take.” Less than two-thirds agreed with the statement just a year earlier. 

Other important changes among Indians over the past three years suggest a strong desire for stability, higher regard for communal over personal interests and greater consideration of India’s interests over those of the wider world.

When asked if they’d prefer to live in a society with a high degree of stability rather than one that embraces change and new ideas, 61 percent of Indians chose stability in the 2015 Global MONITOR survey, compared with 51 percent a year earlier and 46 percent in 2013.

While the desire for stability seems counter to the May 2014 election results, which endorsed change, Indians may feel the need for a breather after the disruptions of the past several years. It’s also possible that the desire for stability reflects the expansion of a middle class that wants to preserve its new status.

In 2013, 49 percent of Indians agreed they should prioritize the interests of the wider community over their own. That number rose to 57 percent in the 2014 Global MONITOR and 61 percent in 2015. The concern for the collective over the individual is consistent with Indian values.

The number of Indians who said that they’re more inclined to put the interests of India ahead of the interests of the wider world rose steadily from 55 percent in 2013 to 59 percent in 2014 and 62 percent in 2015. This result also is consistent with the current political climate and increased investment in building new cities and improving infrastructure.

Indian affluence is increasing. Analysis by The Futures Company places India among countries with consumers that are both willing and able to spend. Changing attitudes will influence how and where these consumers spend their money and on what brands.