1.3 billion people, 29 states, 22 official languages and the sixth largest economy in the world. That’s a typical western way of describing a ...

5 tips for succeeding in the Indian market

1.3 billion people, 29 states, 22 official languages and the sixth largest economy in the world. That’s a typical western way of describing a country. Let’s try it another way: Biryani, Taj Mahal, Yoga, Holi, Saree, Ayurveda, and Bollywood. This description needs an update. According to economists and marketers, India will soon become one of the biggest financial players in the world. How are you going to succeed in the Indian market?   

With the slowdown in China’s economy, European brands are increasingly looking towards incredible India as the next big growth engine in the world economy.

Although the potential is huge; we are looking at a middle class that consists of 600 million, the Indian market is very complex. Here are five things marketers should bear in mind before taking on this fascinating place.

Our intern S M Abidul Islam investigates.

#1. Find the commonality

First, it’s better to consider India as a continent rather than as a country. Because it’s a very big country and the culture varies from state to state, marketers need to find the commonality between all groups. What unites them? Which values and ideas do they share? Finding these answers are critical for getting your messages across.

Most of the internationally successful campaigns don’t work in India because they fail to address this commonality. Follow this tip and you won’t make the same costly mistake with your own marketing campaigns.

#2. Use storytelling

When you observe Indian culture, history, arts, tradition, you will understand that stories are the foundation of Indian civilisations. In India, storytelling is a profession you can still find in rural areas. These storytellers know how to capture the attention of audiences, both young and old.

Times change, however, people grow up and move to the city, but they remember the stories that once touched their hearts. Nowadays, people prefer to experience stories on television, newspapers and on the internet.

Unsurprisingly, then, Indian consumers respond well to stories. Brands would be wise to use a realistic storytelling approach to connect with them.

#3. Take a stand

The world is changing, and an unwanted rise of intolerance is noticed in almost every society. India is not an exception.

A current successful trend of the Indian communication industry is to take a stand against these intolerant attitudes. Agencies recognise that it pays off to show compassion in their campaigns.

Brands that share stories of inclusion get better reach than those who do not. For example, stories are often associated with some topic like physical disability, political crisis, religious festival, etc.

#4. Bollywood and cricket matter

If someone living in Sweden doesn’t know what ‘fika’ means, then they will soon find out! The coffee culture in Sweden is not only about drinking coffee, it’s a social occasion where people get to know each other.

Similarly, cricket is not only a game in India, but it’s also an event when the whole nation stops and comes together. The same can be said about the Indian film industry. Bollywood celebrities are considered one of the most influential marketing tools.

Understanding the significance of cultural customs and practices is a pre-requisite for communicating successfully. Because there are numerous examples in India and other parts of the world where unintentionally going against cultural norms and taboos can be a reason for business failure.

#5. Limit your expectations

India is expected to be a very attractive market in a near future. Yet according to the World Bank, 270 million people still live under the poverty line – that’s 21% of the population. Indeed, the Indian market has a high level of price sensibility.

Before you start marketing or embarking on a business endeavour in India, you should keep those adverse factors in mind too. India is a place where companies should go with a long-term business attitude rather than to earn a ‘quick buck’.


In 2018, Indian digital advertising expenditure was 116 billion Indian rupees and this figure is expected to rise to 434 billion in 2023.

India is changing. At the same time, a growing middle-class will soon have a relatively higher purchasing power than they have now. To succeed in this ‘new’, emerging India, marketers must start preparing right away. There is no time to waste.

You may have numbers and statistical figures in your coat pocket. But that’s not enough to succeed. You must also tell great stories. Because it’s India and you can’t win this market with numbers only. Namaste!

 S M Abidul Islam