How To Update Brands To Make Them Palatable For New Global Markets

The latest SAMMA conference provides insights for businesses entering the Indian market about how to keep their brands relevant.

The news of India overtaking Japan as the world’s third largest economy in 2012 probably did not come as a surprise to the 300+ individuals present at the SAMMA Summit held in New York City this past weekend and touted as the largest professional association of South Asian thought leaders in media, entertainment and marketing.

SAMMA is helping to build its network with the help of individuals like Fareed Zakaria (Editor-at-large TIME Magazine, CNN Host), Rishad Tobaccowala (Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, VivaKi/Publicis Worldwide), Sanjay Gupta (CNN Medical Correspondent), Shiv Singh (Global Head of Digital, Pepsico Beverages), Naveen Selvadurai (Co-Founder, Foursquare), Louise Sams (EVP & President, Turner International), Ann Mukherjee (CMO, Frito-Lay NA), Aziz Ansari (comedian & actor) and many others.

Companies entering the South Asian/Indian market should be aware of the following trends:

  • Rapid growth of internet users: 2010 saw a 13% growth in internet users in India, numbering 39 million. Women constitute only 30% of this population but gender parity continues to grow with the launch of shopping sites like BigShoeBazaar and SnapDeal. Younger users dominate internet usage with 38% falling in the 15-24 age group and another 38% in the 25-34 age group.
  • Social networking, Business, News and Travel capture significant time: Avid consumption of news with social networking is dominating the leisure time of younger generations. Financial portals such as Moneycentral.com and Yahoo! Finance are among the top 10 financial sites visited. Travel dominates online transactions, with sites like Sulekha monopolizing users’ time – even more so than Facebook.
  • Mobile users explode: There are more than 392 million mobile subscribers in India vs. 303 million in the U.S.; 32 million among these access the internet through their mobile devices. SMS content is dominated by news alerts, sports and astrology.
  • Advertisers target specific audiences: As internet usage in India matures over the next 5 years, publishers will begin to enhance ways to target audience based on demographic data, geo-location and contextual relevancy – similar to targeting techniques used in more mature markets today.
  • Silicon-Valley like innovations: India will continue to see tremendous growth in online innovation with sites like Saavn that cater to an Indian taste in music and film. Forbes touts 2011 as the second coming of e-commerce in the country with 100 million Indians buying online – a significant number for a country that is relatively new to credit cards and still faces some very real infrastructure challenges. Much of this innovation is being headed up by Indian-Americans like the founders of [212]Media, a media incubator based in New York City, and funds like Tiger Capital.

Businesses entering the Indian market can look to Marvel Comics for an example of what works. While the popular Indian spiderman character continues to don his iconic spidey suit, he also sports a crisp dhoti (Indian pants) and curly-toed slippers. A hybrid of East and West is growing in relevancy and scope.

SAMMA Summit 2011

Originally published on Seedwalker.

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