Our new India Digital Market Landscape Report is the fourth in a series of trends briefings about the BRIC markets.
The report offers an overview for marketers and investors looking to India for new digital business opportunities and draws on interviews from those within the market, as well as a range of secondary sources.
Digital growth in the wake of the global financial crisis
While the recent global financial crisis has had wide-ranging effects on the country’s economy, the OECD have forecasted growth in India’s GDP to average 4.7% in 2014 and 5.7% in 2015.
This is behind many of Asia’s fast-moving markets but ahead of BRIC peers Brazil and Russia.
Acknowledging this, the internet market has fared remarkably well. According to GlobalWebIndex, the internet population in India grew 230% in the last five years (it is the fourth fastest-growing market globally), and with 130m netizens it is the third largest internet population overall.
Infrastructure problems and room for expansion
Despite its fast-growing and already huge online universe, only 17% of the country’s overall population are online (We Are Social)].
The IAMAI recently reported that much of India’s internet user-base are located in urban areas (29m live in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai) but there are around 845m rural Indians living in areas where getting online is not so easy.
There are a number of reasons for this, simply a lack of infrastructure in many areas makes connectivity patchy and hard to depend upon – while the necessary technology is less affordable in areas where wages are a fraction of those in the cities.
Another problem lies with the vast number and diversity of languages spoken in the region, with only a few represented online.
This lack of connectivity for the wider population has drawn recent public criticism from Rahul Khullar, of the Telecom Regulation Authority of India.
While a range of national media names have also spoken out against the Indian Government’s overly zealous Central Monitoring System. It will be interesting to see whether the change in the Indian government after the April/May 2014 general election will see these issues addressed.
Role of businesses, technologists and marketers
Of course, it is not only up to the government to help bring more people online. There are plenty of areas where businesses, technologists and marketers are working to connect with sections of the Indian public who are new to internet activities
Mobile technology is becoming increasingly affordable, with around 257m (according to IDC) feature phones and smartphones in use among the population.
In terms of content, social media is in no doubt appealing to Indians – with western names including Facebook and Twitter proving dominant, particularly among younger netizens, and lending themselves well to mobile access.
It is clear that those who will succeed across greater India will be savvy enough to focus on content – including social – which is accessible on a range of mobile devices over good and bad connections. Localised content that is multi-language also seems a key consideration.