India accounts for 1/5th of the world's youth market. It means that a majority of buyers in India are within the age bracket of 18-25 which are easy to influence. Many businesses identify this as an opportunity to seize a large market share. However, Indian consumers are hard to advertise to and sell to as there is diversity in cultures, ethics, income groups, family structures, and many other factors.
Big companies like Netflix, Chevrolet, and Danone couldn’t appeal to Indian consumers and failed miserably. In the 1990s, the main target group for businesses was middle-class consumers which catered to 200 million people. Three decades later, not only did the consumer change but businesses' approach to the Indian market has also changed.
Segmentation of the Indian Consumer Market
Indian Consumer Market Trends
Segmentation of the Indian Consumer Market
A crucial aspect of understanding the Indian consumer market is segmenting. Since there is so much multiplicity, it is sensible to segment and then target the consumers.
There are three major categories to segregate the consumers: family structure, affluence, and urbanization.
Indian family structure shifted from joint to nuclear family over the past 2 decades. The nuclear family rose to 70% in the past two decades and is expected to rise to 74% by 2025.
Another trend is a transition to single households where a majority of people are living alone in cities for work. How does it impact purchases? A nuclear family is bound to spend 20-30% more than a joint family. Also, people who live alone often make purchases driven by lifestyle choices instead of functional needs.
Indian people can be categorized into 5 groups based on their annual gross household income level:
- Elite (>$30.8k)
- Affluent ($15.4k-$30.8k)
- Aspirers ($7.7k-$15.4k)
- Next billion ($2.3k-$7.7k)
- Strugglers (<$2.3k)
Amongst these, the top consumer groups comprising 40% are - elite and affluent. Their spending was 27% in 2016 but grew at a significant rate. India is witnessing a shift towards materialism and rising affluence. People are focusing on working more and earning more with an average 50-hour work week.
They prefer to buy an expensive alternative if it is of greater quality. As a result, the elite and affluent categories spend almost ten times more than strugglers on women's apparel and food & beverage. However, Other groups with middle and low income are dissatisfied with their income which directly impacts consumer behaviour. Nonetheless, aspirers are influenced by social media and trading up.
Brands like L'oreal, Lakme, and Samsung have been able to crack the code and segmented their product well to set foot in India. They have a wide range of products targeting different sets of income groups. As a result, they capture a bigger market and sustain in India for a longer period.
40% of Indian consumers are urban people which accounts for 60% of consumption. Nevertheless, the emerging cities are growing at a fast pace and increasing their expenditure at a 14% per year rate.
The restricted growth is the result of a value-for-money mindset, conventional financial perspective, and local cultural association. Even though they have the will to purchase but do not have a market catering to their needs and purchasing power.
All these categories highlight the heterogeneity in Indian markets. Hence, businesses need to segment their offering and capture the Indian market tactfully. It is crucial to understand the customers and their buying choices.
Buying choices depend upon 3 factors: product penetration, frequency of occasion, and spending per purchase. As a brand, you need to look into these three factors that directly impact buying choice and segment accordingly.
Indian Consumer Market Trends
The Indian consumer market evolves daily. In fact, a consumer choice might vary depending upon the product category. For instance, a consumer might splurge on the hotel while travelling but have a saving mindset for transportation. Similarly, a consumer might save on food and beverage but spend more on cosmetics.
Here are 7 trends influencing Indian consumers.
India witnessed a rise of 30% in the ready-to-eat meal in the last few years. It is the result of two factors. One is the transition in family structures and the other one is time compression. People are choosing time and convenience over money and are willing to pay extra to receive an end-to-end solution.
Consumers are opting for omnichannel shopping. Consumers, depending upon the product category, opt for a mix of both online and offline touchpoints. Fast-moving consumer goods reported an entire offline or online purchase. Nonetheless, businesses need to focus on providing exceptional online and offline experiences to their customers.
As mentioned above, a major of the Indian market is young people in the age bracket of 20-35. This group focuses on lifestyle purchases and spends on premium goods. It is also characterized by single adulthood and nuclear family which impacts buying choices.
Impulse buying is rising as people are moved by instant gratification. People are influenced by social media and often purchase to fulfill gratification. Impulse buying accounts for 40% of purchases. PVR India makes up to 54% of its market share by impulse buys solely. No wonder, Swiggy and Zomato were able to set their market share in India.
People are becoming value-conscious where they focus on product quality. As a result, brands that cater to affluent or elite markets are able to capture a larger audience. If the perceived value is low the brand might flunk. Another reason is the dominance of youth in the Indian market that aims for the value and longevity of products.
Brand recognition and emotional appeal are crucial for Indian consumers. This is the reason that Maggi wasn't wiped out from the market even after the allegation was raised against it. Also, brands like McDonald's and Dominos monetize on emotional appeal instead of other factors like premium quality ingredients. Indian consumers are driven by emotions and make emotional purchases.
COVID had a huge impact on consumer purchase trends. People shifted to online markets for the majority of purchases. Even though offline stores still have a fair market share, online channels impacted buying decisions and impulse purchases.
Social media and other digital channels significantly shape buyers’ purchase choices. Online purchases are predicted to rise from $90 million to $350 million by 2025.
Also, eCommerce boomed online purchases which lead to rising impulse purchases. People switched from window shopping to strolling on eCommerce websites. E-commerce markets are expected to grow from $50 billion to $500 billion by 2025.
Businesses need to aim at a larger market by segmenting their target market and placing products at various price tiers. If they wish to capture a larger market, they have to create multiple offerings catering to diverse groups.
The best example would be Samsung which offers both low-mid range phones and expensive phones covering a larger market. This is why it tops the market share in the Indian smartphone market with a 22% market share. Consumption will rise to $25 trillion by 2025. Brands should clearly study their audience and target accordingly.
What are the types of buying behaviour typical of Indian customers?
The types of buying behaviour are Extended Decision-Making, Limited Decision-Making, Habitual Buying Behavior, and Variety-Seeking Buying Behavior.
How has the Indian consumer changed?
Indian consumers have become more aware and conscious of quality. Many consumers have shifted to online markets for the majority of purchases