(^MK) India is a surprising country; on the one hand India is known for great poverty and underfed children, on the other hand India surprises the Western world with its advanced information technology and highly respected scientists. With more than one billion citizens, India ranks as the second-most populous country in the world (#1: China).
While the entire world focuses on and praises China for its economic weight and civil advancement, the German government shifted its focus among Asian countries towards India in 2007. German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the Indo-German Science Express train that visited more than 50 cities and towns in India to promote the close German-Indian cooperation in sciences. Why is this all important? Because it outlines a market with great economic growth; hence India is one of the potential growth markets for social media.
Importantly for the growth of social media is a free and uncensored access to the Internet. The Republic of India not only ranks as the second-most populous country in the world, it also represent’s the world’s largest democracy. This is a necessary condition for the development of social media.
India has an advanced information technology infrastructure. There are 362,3 million mobile cellular phones in use (as of 2009). This ranks India #3 compared with the rest of the world. In 2007 there were 80 million Internet users, which ranked India #5 in comparison with the rest of the world. By way of illustration, the U.S. is ranked #3 with 223 million Internet users, China #1 (253M), European Union #2 (247M), Russia #12 (30M), and Sweden #36 (7M). With 2,7 million Internet hosts India ranked #25 in comparison with the rest of the world. By way of illustration, the U.S. is ranked #1 with 316M, Japan #2 (39,9M), Germany #3 (22,6M), Russia #15 (4,8M), Sweden #20 (3,6M). These numbers are all retrieved from the CIA Worldfact Book. In recent years bandwidth grew dramatically, significant trunk capacity was added in the form of fiber-optic cable. One of the world’s largest domestic satellite system (INSAT) satisfies telecommunications and broadcasting. Additionally, India is the leading provider of business outsourcing services to the US, Canadian and European markets, with over 1,28 Employed (2007) within the sector, India’s numerous technologically focused universities provide a large educated market for social media outlets.
In order for brands to position their products better to the Indian market, marketers should be aware of India as one of the fastest growing cell phone markets. A CNET news article from early 2007 states that about 13% of the people in India have a cell phone. Today, nearly three years later, India has got a cell phone penetration of 32% (I used the total Indian population of 1,166,079,217 and the previously mentioned number of cell phones in use in India for calculation)! By way of illustration, the U.S. has a cell phone penetration of 83%, France 89%, Germany 111%. It is estimated that the cell phone penetration will increase dramatically, with 18 million subscribes each year.
Another trend besides cell phone usage is micro-blogging: Twitter is popular in India, which makes Indians #9 active Twitter users in comparison with other nations, such as the U.S. Additionally to Twitter a Sysomos study reveals SMS GupShup as atwitter-like service with more than 20 million users. This micro blogging site can only be accessed through SMS. Both, the heavy penetration of cell phones and a micro blogging-friendly culture, are strong indicators for an integrated marketing strategy.
India has got huge potential for marketing brands and products through social media. And yes, English is the official business language, with the country having a literacy level of 65,7%.
Our class literature Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands by Morrison and Conaway outlines India as a country with diverse religions, cultural habits and last but not least 14 other official languages besides Hindi. This could definitely cause a challenge for a nation-wide social media campaign.