For internet companies around the world, India is an important market.
The country's population has the second largest number of users on Instagram. And the ecommerce industry in the country is growing rapidly. Currently, the revenue from the ecommerce market amounts to approximately $40.8 million.
Clearly, it opens up a lot of opportunities for marketers.
But how can you appeal to an Indian audience?
In this podcast episode, Ankur Warikoo, co-founder of Nearbuy.com, a hyperlocal ecommerce company, discusses how their online business was able to succeed in the Indian market.
He also discusses how brands need to tweak their marketing strategies to match the preferences of the Indian audience.
How Can You Understand the Indian Internet Industry?
India is the second-largest online market in the world. The country ranks behind only China and has over 560 million internet users. By 2021, India will have over 600 million internet users.
That’s a lot, right?
If brands want to tap into the Indian market, they need to invest some time into understanding the Indian audience.
From his experience working as the CEO of Groupon India, Warikoo explains that one of the challenges that the company faced was building trust with their audience.
He points out that there is a marked difference between the Indian market and the U.S. market.
For starters, the U.S. market is more trusting than the Indian market.
“You set up the content on Instagram or Facebook, and people in the U.S. are likely to try out your brand,” says Ankur.
Conversely, distrust is characteristic of the Indian market. “If you are a foreign brand, and you enter the market offering deals, then your audience is likely to distrust you,” says Ankur.
So what's the solution?
Let’s take a look at some of his suggestions.
Different Model for a Different Audience
One of the things that you should consider when marketing to a global audience is the local culture.
If you want to break into a new market, there is one simple rule:
Respect the locals and their culture.
Many companies fail because they forget this…
One classic example is the Best Buy store chain. Although the hyper store is popular in the U.S., they had to close shops in Europe, Turkey, and China.
Best Buy failed to adopt a multicultural marketing strategy that would help them adapt to the foreign culture.
The same is true for Groupon with the Indian market. Ankur notes that the multinational company struggled to attract Indian customers initially even with crazy discount deals.
In the podcast, he says that Groupon offered a 50% discount on Hilton hotel stays. While it was a great offering, the Indian audience thought it was too good to be true.
Concerns regarding hidden charges, quality of service, and terms and conditions were major deterrents for people to engage with the brand.
What’s the bottom line here?
Aggressive marketing may not lure the Indian consumer. Just having great discounts and offers may not cut it for brands entering India.
Gaining Trust of the Audience
The secret to reaping success in the Indian market is building trust with your audience. However, building trust with your audience is a challenge across all markets.
“In the Indian market, building trust takes time and consistency,” Ankur notes.
To win over an Indian audience, you need to build your credibility. Unless people trust that your business is genuine, they may not be willing to engage with you.
When Groupon first entered the Indian market, they were not able to attract Indian customers despite offering great deals. To build their trust, they ensured that they featured customer testimonials prominently. Adding social proof can go a long way in gaining people’s confidence.
In addition to this, they also worked with merchants to boost their brand trust. They recorded videos of the brand managers of their merchants explaining to the public why they were on Groupon.
To put concerns to rest, managers also assured everyone that they could expect top-notch service.
Ankur recounts that the whole process was quite slow. But they consistently continued with their efforts. Eventually, they were able to build up their reputation.
Understanding the Complex Indian Customer
Navigating India's consumer market is tough. For starters, India is a diverse country with over 1000 dialects and 23 official languages. The market is complex, and so are the motivations of consumers to spend.
With each region, there may be vast differences in the culture, spending capacity, and other demographics. That’s why it’s crucial for brands to be aware of the diverse profiles of Indian customers.
To get a better sense of your target audience, it’s a good idea to listen to what the customers are discussing. Keep an eye on online brand mentions and reviews.
To study the local market, you can also check what others in the same space are doing and what’s working for them. To break into the Indian market, you need to understand the local needs, attitudes, and preferences.
Ready to Expand?
The Indian market is different from the West.
For starters, the Indian market is founded on distrust. Even if a new company offers crazy discounts, they may not find many takers.
So, brands need to familiarize their Indian audience with their brand and gain their trust. Pushing aggressive discounts may be counterproductive.
Of course, this can take a lot of time.
But consistency in your efforts is the only way to win over an Indian audience.
Brands also need to keep in mind the diversity of the Indian culture. To understand your target audience, it’s always a good idea to invest time in research.
Got any questions or insights about the Indian internet industry? Please share them in the comments section.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.