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Article Editor: Christopher Laird Simmons


India's Consumers Can be a Gold Mine - If You Can Get Into Their Heads

Bureau West Research Group: Advertising Tailored to Indian Consumers Yields Success

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - August 3, 2004 /Send2Press Newswire/ -- American companies are discovering the appeal of marketing their products in India. With a population of approximately one billion, and a middle class that's larger than the total population of the United States (300 million and growing), there's definitely money to be made. However, foreign companies have learned that marketing in India is not easy. Despite Indians' familiarity with the English language and exposure to Western culture, foreign companies, like Pepsi, were disappointed when they tried running their existing advertising in India.

Multi-national companies have been far more successful with advertising created specifically for the Indian market:

  • Pepsi's sales increased when they ran advertising featuring Indian movie star Shahrukh Khan, and popular cricket batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

  • An ad for Fair & Lovely face cream (owned by Unilever) had a woman saying "I wish I had a son!" This raised hackles among Indian intellectuals. But the ad talked about the marginalized father-daughter relationship and connected to Indian emotions. People saw the ad as a celebration of the daughter's subsequent empowerment. Sales shot up.

  • ICICI Prudential Life Insurance uses the "Sindoor" (the red mark in the parting of the Indian married woman's forehead) as a guarantee, capturing the essence of this powerful age-old metaphor for insuring the future.

Political themes can be successful... but should probably be left to local companies. When Onida televisions (an Indian company) ran an ironic "border" story after a skirmish over the disputed state of Kashmir, it was highly successful. But when Cadbury's ran an ad related to Kashmir (with the line "It cannot be shared"), they faced such strong criticism that they withdrew the ad hastily. As they say in India, "it is OK for the daughter to criticize the head of the family, but not for the daughter-in-law!"

How can American companies create advertising that will resonate with Indian consumers? By talking to them! Bureau West, a Los Angeles-based market research company, has partnered with Piyul Mukherjee of Proact Research in India to conduct research with Indian consumers. Ms. Mukherjee has overseen research all over India and truly understands the diversity of Indian attitudes.

Contact Bureau West for a free report, "How to Conduct Focus Groups in India." For a copy of the report, send an email to india@bureauwest.com.



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