10 recommendations for building valuable brands in today’s India
1. Discover key insights
India does not lack brands. But there still is room for new brands with innovations or new ideas that identify and fill real needs. Getting a brand from “me too” to “I alone” requires finding an insight that has remained undiscovered or underexploited. Because they are close to the market, local Indian brands may have an advantage in discovering these insights, which means that brands entering India may have to work harder.
2. Push quality, not provenance
Indian consumers usually do not choose a brand because of its “made in” label. It is true that “foreign-ness” no longer confers special status and “Indian-ness” has new appeal. But the ultimate purchasing decision determinants are quality, affordability, and desirability.
3. Cultivate loyalty
More brand choice has resulted in less brand loyalty. Because Indian consumers enjoy so many similar options, the important differentiator increasingly is the brand’s emotional connection with the consumer. Forming and strengthening that bond requires delivering more benefits that are meaningful to the individual and communicating about them more personally.
4. Question assumptions
India is changing so rapidly that assumptions quickly become dated. Attitudes about being modern and traditional are in constant and shifting tension. Young people are influencing their parents to be more progressive, and parents are moderating the overall rate of change. Listen closely. Actions based on old assumptions can lead to expensive mistakes.
5. Focus on attitudes
Demographics do not tell the full story. Only a few years ago, the terms “rural India” and “urban India” described a vast gap in wealth, education, health, and access to information. Differences remain, but the gap is narrowing. Urban and rural Indians will always be geographically separated, but they are no longer miles apart in attitudes and aspirations.
6. Help build the nation
Because of its rapid economic expansion, India offers great profit-making opportunities. But gaining access to those opportunities is a privilege that requires being fully engaged in the life of the country. Brands that help India become more prosperous and equitable will also help themselves. They will demonstrate that although their interest in India is primarily commercial, it is not only commercial.
7. Express a point of view
Some aspects of India’s transformation are more controversial than others. Brand initiatives to fight poverty are unlikely to draw criticism. In contrast, advertising that takes a stand on contemporary social issues, like the evolving roles of men and women, will spark conversation. Expressing a point of view is an opportunity to show leadership. An intelligent and respectful tone can help moderate the risk.
8. Mix media
Digital advertising is growing rapidly in India with the possibility of reaching consumers on their mobile phones, particularly in rural areas. But in India, unlike in most major media markets, traditional advertising channels, like TV, are still experiencing healthy growth, which means a comprehensive media plan usually is most effective.
9. Sell efficiently
Indian consumers are more sophisticated today, and that includes those living in rural communities. In many household categories, it is no longer necessary to create ads that have an instructional tone, explaining step by step how a product works. It is possible to sell more efficiently, focusing less on education and more on benefits and advantages.
10. Celebrate India
Indians feel great national pride because of the progress that the modern state of India has made since its formation almost 70 years ago. They are rediscovering the influences of ancient India. Take the journey with them. Consider not only what can be sold in India, but also what can be learned from one of the world’s oldest civilizations.