The population of India is not the only statistic that continues to grow. The demand for sophisticated technology is booming and the desire for commercialized goods is increasing as well. The attitude towards foreign companies (specifically American) is generally positive (63 percent of Indians have a positive feeling towards the United States) and this presents a great opportunity for organizations looking to penetrate the market.
When crafting a marketing plan you generally want to know 1. Who of the general population has the ability to purchase the product 2. How do you reach them?
The Indian Government claims that a third of its population is “middle-class” but according to Gunja Bagla in a post from MarketingProfs.com, “By American standards, there are probably around 60 million Indians who qualify as middle-class”. This is still a huge market for a brand to capture and when implementing a social media strategy it is essential that you go where the conversation is already happening. For India, all signs point to the cell phone.
Cell phones are having an enormous impact on the lives on Indians across the country and between castes. This BusinessWeek article recounts how the cell phone has doubled the business of tradesmen in rural India who can now complete an order in 60 seconds as opposed to two weeks. The cell phone has become a fixture that the poor are willing to pay for given the doors it will open in allowing them to conduct business on a bigger scale.
According to Idea Celluar, the cell phone has become the fifth most important household expenditure item after food, clothing, shelter, education. The Indian Celluar Association predicts that by next year two-thirds of Indians will own a cell phone and by 2010 the subscriber base will reach 450 million.
It is predicted that connection to the internet via phone will surpass the PC if it has not already. The cell phone is clearly a powerful way to reach the consumer, the trick is to to create tools that are relevant to the customer but drive the brand as well. Last week we learned that in Sweden, you can pay your taxes via text message, which sounds like a dream to many of us, but it is a reality there and it is brilliant.
In India, a company can implement social medial tools using text message alerts, phone apps and social networking tools to connect to its target audience. For example, with a cell phone, a master weaver in India is now able to communicate with vendors and clients about shipments. Eventually – he will want to send this product to his customer. It is safe to assume that there is not a FedEx drop-box up the road from this mans shop. However, this brings an opportunity for FedEx (or another shipping provider) to connect with the tradesman via text message or create a phone application. This feature will update the consumer with current delivery schedules or delays/changes to the remote delivery areas. This could be a huge asset to the tradesmen who may have to take a day out of his schedule to reach the drop-box and coordinate shipping schedules between other vendors and clients.
Whatever the brand, the key is to find a way to become not only relevant but also useful to a consumer in any country or region. The power behind social media is the ability to connect directly with the individual and and in doing so make the experience unique and positive. ^JT