Four trends and five tactics to take India by branding storm.
Before we begin, a full disclosure: my perspective is a die-hard pro-India one. It is always a great time to be an Indian. This is a country that has unparalleled wisdom to learn from, unbridled entertainment to be mesmerized by, and unequaled possibilities to grow with.
Having said that, now is still perhaps one of the great-er times in the life of the country and its people. With a humungous population of consumers, (marketers bringing) brands from all over the world, and globally on-par technology, this is the place and the time where anything is possible. The dynamic manifests in the four following disparate trend examples:
Long live the niche
While the mass-market engine is chugging along at its broad pace, niche markets are leap frogging disproportionately forward as smaller, nimbler, customized, high-value economies. If you have an idea, the conviction and the rigor to see it through, there is a (ecommerce) market wanting to consume it.
Rise of the un-metro
From Levis to Apple to L’Oreal, technology has ensured availability of all top-line brands in all the far corners of the country. In turn accessibility has tapped into latent desire. Bang! The fastest growth ever now comes from non-metro areas of India, in categories as diverse as premium cars to fashion and personal care.
The new value
Often called L.I.V.E. (Low Value Income Explorers) this consumer segment is perhaps the most prolific experimenter with brands in India. Open to influences, they are driving up trade and demand for value-priced and better-quality products.
The future is bright
Literacy, per capita income, exposure to technology and media are all seeing unprecedented upswings; so is the average Indian’s self-belief and confidence. The result is a generation that is impatient to experience life
So, how can marketers take advantage of these emerging opportunities?
My advice is to peruse the following five tactics in order to win in India:
Marketing in India, as always, refuses to work in a cookie-cutter manner. Even within the country, what works for the northern states is not necessarily true for the southern states. A deeper understanding of the local relevance is a critical prerequisite. And preferably not from the confines of air-conditioned offices, but in the spirit of ‘Go and See’!
Customer lifecycle management
In most categories, the conversation ends with the sale; customer-relationship programs border on being completely absent. And other issues arise from this marketplace gap, like diluted understanding of the brand, lack of brand loyalty, mere brand flirting, etc. For brands that care to engage and converse on a continual basis, the opportunity to become ‘The Brand For Me’ can be a low-hanging fruit.
In quite a few categories, R&D is under leveraged, especially in FMCG. Marketers are often content with just making cosmetic changes. But brands that go beyond that (led by the ‘Be Local’ point made earlier) can enjoy commensurate thought leadership, if not market leadership.
Maybe this should be an obvious one for the fastest-growing smartphone country in Asia. Mobile is the best way to reach out with a brand message; with phablet penetration increasing and 4G roll out imminent, branded mobile content should be up for an overhaul.
India is the one economy where the growth story has never stopped. The rates or pace may have changed; the governments’ orientation might get fine-tuned; the country’s global role may have morphed; but the market’s power and the possibilities inherent in it are perpetual.