India flag India: Buying and Selling

Advertising and marketing in India

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
The population of India in 2022 is estimated at 1.406 billion according to the latest UN data. The largest city in India is Delhi, with a population of 32.07 million, followed by Mumbai with a population of 20.96 million (CIA, 2022). Overall, there are more than 50 areas India with a population of more than one million. While the number of Indians living in urban areas has increased over the past two decades, about 64% of the population still lives in rural areas (CIA). India is a vast country, marked by a great diversity of religions, languages, literacy levels, traditions, social customs and economic status. There are therefore several types of Indian consumers. There are five categories of Indian homes: elite, well-off, aspiring, future billionaires, strivers. The first two classes of income are those that grow the fastest. However, the largest consumption expenditure is concentrated on categories including people with undergraduate degrees (skilled employees), blue-collar workers and migrant workers. In India, these categories represent about 130 million workers with incomes of more than 3,200 USD per year on average. India struggles to educate and employ its growing population: over 28% of the country's young people are excluded from education, employment or training, while the vast majority of working Indians are employed in the informal sector (World Bank, 2020). According to the latest data from the World Bank, in 2018, India had a literacy rate of 74.4%: 82.4% for men and 65.8% for women. However, the literacy rate varies enormously from one state to another. India still has about a quarter of the world’s extreme poor, and social inequalities in the country are not only rampant but rising. The expansion of this category of population - both in terms of size and income - is expected to be the main driver of consumption in India over the next few years. Nevertheless rising incomes influence spending patterns in the various consumer categories.
Purchasing Power
Consumer spending across India amounted to over 23 trillion rupees as of January 2022 (Statista). India is expected to become the third largest consumer market by 2030. Fundamental changes in Indian family structure are a determining factor in consumption patterns: extended family gives way to nuclear homes - a couple or a single person, with or without children who tend to spend more. According to World Bank data for 2020, per capita GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) in India was USD 6,503.9, and Gross National Income per capita (PPP) was USD 6,440. According to the Gender Gap Index, in 2021 India has slipped to the 140th position from the previous 112th in 2020. Women’s estimated earned income is only one-fifth of men’s, and in terms of wages for similar positions, only 46%-49% of the gap has been closed (World Economic Forum, 2021).
Consumer Behaviour
Indian consumer behaviour is strongly influenced by the caste system that compartmentalises society. It creates social differences and makes it possible to strengthen bonds between people from the same social group.
Thus, a brand will be much easier to advertise via the recommendations of parents and word of mouth. In general, Indian consumers are attached to a particular brand, but are not exclusive. Indeed, they seek above all the added value of the purchase and the brand, more than its reputation. Companies wishing to reach as many consumers as possible must make significant efforts in terms of market penetration.
Indian consumers tend to buy fresh produce (dairy products, fruits and vegetables) at least every two or three days, an advantage for traditional "kirana" stores compared to so-called modern stores like supermarkets. There are over 15 million traditional “kirana” stores in India – 90% of the retail market (USDA). In recent years, rural consumers have grown in importance. Broader Internet access is driving a growing demand for streaming services as well as significant growth in e-commerce. The country already has the second-largest internet population – and only 47% of citizens are online (Data Reportal, 2022). Big brands are already investing in Indian expansion. eCommerce is new to many Indians, particularly outside the big cities. Programs like Amazon Easy are connecting traditional stores to the eCommerce sector. Kirana shops can act as delivery points or help customers place orders.
The shared economy has undergone a tremendous development in India and has grown exponentially in the past five years. Services like MERU Cab are used as an alternative for Uber or BlaBlaCar.
Consumers Associations
Consumer Advice Company for India
Main Advertising Agencies
JWT (Hindustan Thompson Associates)
Ogilvy & Mather
Saatchi & Saatchi Pvt Ltd
DDB Mudra

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Latest Update: July 2024