Takeaways: Key actions for building valuable brands in India
- Be innovative
In India, as in most markets, being Meaningfully Different is vital to developing brand equity. Meaningful Difference enables brands to more rapidly grow market share, obtain a premium, and increase value, according to BrandZ™ global research. But in India, being only Meaningfully Different, meeting consumer needs in relevant and distinctive ways, is sometimes not enough. Because of the ever-increasing competition in India, and the entrance of brands from abroad, Difference for the sake of being different may elicit skepticism rather than interest. To generate consumer interest, the Difference needs to be perceived as innovative in ways that improve life.
- Sustain innovation
Purposeful innovation to improve life will generate consumer interest. Sustaining consumer interest is another matter. India is changing so quickly, today’s innovation can become tomorrow’s expectation. To grow market share and sustain a price premium over time, brands need to have a pipeline of new ideas with innovations flowing continuously. That requires brands to perpetually update their consumer insights.
- Differentiate with emotion
Sometimes even the best innovation is not enough. With access to similar technology and knowledge, the competition often can quickly replicate functional innovations and neutralize their distinctiveness. Functional innovation remains important, of course. But with innovation so vulnerable to imitation, emotional differentiation is also vital for brand success in India. Brands need to build affinity based not only on what the brand does for the consumer, but also how it makes the consumer feel.
- Build trust
Trust is important in all country markets. Trust adds the resilience brands need to sustain customer loyalty even during the inevitable short-term challenges. Rapid change in India amplifies the need for trust. Typically, trust results overtime from consistent positive consumer experiences with a brand. Today, some of India’s newest brands are almost as trusted as its oldest brands. To build trust more quickly, it is useful for brands to behave like service brands that ask what benefits they provide to make the lives of consumers simpler and better.
- Refine Salience
Salience is important in India but also problematic. Salience (Coming to mind quickly at the time of purchase consideration) is a BrandZ™ component of brand equity, along with Meaningfulness (Creating an affinity with consumers and meeting their needs) and Difference (Being distinctive or trend setting). Brands that are more Salient typically grow value faster than less Salient brands. In India, the level of a brand’s Salience alone has limited impact on its rate of value growth, probably because so many new and long-time brands are competing for consumer attention. Brands can more effectively build value when they create Meaningful Difference first, and then make it Salient.
Experiment with new ideas and change old ways of doing business when necessary. Heritage is important, and some of India’s oldest and most respected brands remain high in the India Top 75 ranking. But these brands adapt their historic strengths for today’s market. They recognize evolving consumer attitudes, anticipate new competitors coming from other categories, and embrace the latest useful technologies. Ultimately, they create and communicate a good customer experience.
Brand communications are tremendously important as a driver of brand value growth in India. Along with Purpose, Innovation, Experience, and Love, Communications is one of five components of vQ, the BrandZ™ indicator of brand health. Over the past five years, brands in the India ranking that scored lowest in Communications averaged only 8 percent in brand value. Brands that scored highest in Communications increased in value an average of 249 percent. Quality advertising remains an important part of the communications mix, but effectiveness also depends being both online and offline to influence the right people at the best time.
- Mix media
Knowing how best to deliver a brand message has become more complicated in India because of changes in the way people—rich and poor, urban and rural—consume media, now more available and affordable. 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, which also found that the average mobile phone bill declined 60 percent since 2014. Plus, more content providers—both Global and Indian—have expanded in India. And, simultaneously, spending on TV and other traditional media continues to hold steady, according to Group M. As the possibilities for engaging consumers expand, the payoff is potentially greater for brands able to customize the most effective media mix.