News & Views

India Now / Event Debrief

by Contagious Team

Hall & Partners event showcases which brands are successful in India and look at what helps them thrive

Last week Contagious attended Hall & Partners' annual 'Local Matters' event. This year, the spotlight was turned on to India. The talk was loosely structured as Q&A with Nivedita Singh Director at Hall & Partner's sister company GreyCells in New Delhi. Here's what we learned:

Home to the largest youth population in the world, India offers huge opportunities for brands and marketers. Digital has brought previously cut-off Indians living in rural areas face-to-face with brands for the first time, creating a new 'virtual middle class'. It has also enabled people to collect together and form communities around new causes. Tata Tea's Wake Up India campaign tapped into this change, celebrating rural India's new found voice. The growing middle class are seeking ways to differentiate and express themselves, looking for new experiences and to be emotionally connected.

India is a country of diversity and brands that don't appreciate this will fail to thrive. With over 30 different states and more than 25 languages spoken, a one-size will not fit all in terms of brand strategy. Singh described the country as 'schizophrenic' and characterised the North as aspirational compared to the South where people are more pragmatic. Indian telco brand Airtel is one company that has negotiated India's differences well, tailoring different packages and strategies for each region. 

Strategies that work in other countries won't necessarily fly in India. In general, Indians have a very value driven mindset. Whilst overall the west seeks value for money, Indians want money for value -- they look to pay more for extra. This insight caused BMW to adjust its product in India, presenting the country with a faster car. 

Transplanting campaigns from other regions onto India are likely to flop. For example, when Coca-Cola first came to India, the brand aired the same ads that had been popular in the west. Indians had no connection with the campaign and the brand failed to make a mark. A change of tactics resulted in Coke's 'open happiness' idea being aligned with Divali, as the brand realised that its message naturally complemented India's love of colour and celebration. Suddenly Coke became relevant and was embraced by Indians. Singh stressed that the one thing uniting this diverse country is a shared pride in Indianness and understanding this is key to brand's success.