Take Aways

Building brands in India requires deep insight, boldness and speed

1. Be different

Because India is such a large and hospitable market for brands, it’s rapidly becoming more crowded with brand choice. In this context, it becomes more important for brands to be different from the competition. In the BrandZ™ India Top 50, the Top 25 brands scored 127 in Different, while the Bottom 25 scored 113. An average score is 100, so a score of 113 is good, but perhaps not good enough.

2. Be purposeful

When a brand has clear purpose consumers feel that it’s in business to help improve their lives – or the world – not just to make money. Important in all markets, purpose is especially important in India. India is like other markets where purpose becomes an important differentiator. But India is different from other markets because consumers expect brands to have a purpose and contribute to the welfare of the nation.

3. Be Indian

Don’t assume lessons learned in China or any other fast growing market will apply in quite the same way in India. India is a physically large and remarkably diverse nation of 22 official languages. Interests and tastes can change dramatically by region. To be Indian doesn’t mean imitating what on the surface seems Indian. It requires deep insight, to understand the nuances so thoroughly that consumers view the brand as Indian, regardless of its provenance.

4. Identify new niches

If the size and complication of the India market creates challenges, it also produces opportunities, as people rapidly move into the middle class and discover needs they didn’t know they had. For every person who’s just traded up from a two wheeler to a car, there’s an owner of an economy car who is looking for a more premium model. Premiumization is just one segmentation trend, but it crosses many categories

5. Be on the cutting edge of change

Resist the comfortable. The problem with a normal slice of life ad, for example, is that life in India is changing quickly. The detergent commercial with a woman extoling the brightness of her wash reaches many women viewers who no longer want to do the wash and believe that men should share in the household chores. Advocate for social progress.

6. Get the media right

Use traditional media when appropriate. But go beyond traditional media. Mobile is important, particularly in rural India where consumers use mobile extensively for entertainment and financial transactions. Banks are linking their financial apps with social media. Over 40 percent of e-commerce in India happens on mobile, according to some reports.

7. Get the message right

A film star or another celebrity may resonate with some older consumers, but not with their children. Young Indians, compared with young people elsewhere, are more likely to respect traditions. But young Indians reject hypocrisy. They enjoy the comedy networks that specialize in social criticism and they respond to communication that’s smart and to the point.

8. Protect trust

Indian consumers tend to be more trustful of brands than consumers elsewhere. That means brands can immediately build on trust, while in some other markets brands first need to repair trust. Brands can get right to the fun part – trying to delight consumers – as long as they continue to merit and respect the consumers’ trust.

9. Keep moving

The BrandZ™ India Top 50 grew 33 percent in brand value, more than the annual growth of the Global Top 100 for every year since the BrandZ™ rankings began a decade ago. Seven brands dropped in ranking this year even though they increased over 20 percent in brand value. A key challenge for brands in India is growing fast enough in such a fast growing market.

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