Branding in India


Branding for India’s 1.2bn Consumers

When international companies enter the Indian market their aim is access to 1.2 billion new consumers. But many fail. They often only succeed in serving the affluent few in urban centres. Their competition, the local companies, are well established and have strong customer loyalty particularly in the rural areas where 70% of the population live. Because many rural Indians are illiterate, their response to brands is conservative and entirely visual. A London based branding agency Evolve Creative has recently carried out research with rural consumers in India. The results show:

Shopping is social

In rural India shopping is an interactive, social process. The consumer expects to get advice and trusts the local shopkeeper. In turn the shopkeeper depends on regular local custom. So the local distributor or retailer has huge influence on the choice of brands. The shopkeeper can explain brand changes to an illiterate or rurally isolated consumer for whom visual recognition of a pack is key.

Cash is limited

In India’s rural areas neither the shopkeeper nor the customer have much spare cash to invest in product stock. This limits choice – the shopkeeper only stocks brands which sell easily and the customer avoids risk and resists brand change. Visual cues to confirm quality and authenticity are vital.

Fakes and imitations

Local brands often have a loyal following and in areas with limited supply these may be the only brand on the shelf. But increasingly leading brands are being imitated, causing confusion amongst consumers and worries about quality.


London’s Evolve Creative design team has recently updated EverReady India’s torch range. The EverReady symbol  – a cat jumping through a figure ‘9’ – indicating long lasting batteries–was not contemporary. How would rural consumers react to a new EverReady pack – the right brand but without the cat? The answer was simple. Illiterate consumers did not recognise the products as genuine without the cat.

So the cat on the pack has survived again!

For more information on branding in the Indian market contact:


Kernel Consulting

Office: +44 (0)20 7278 8689 Mobile: +44 (0)7867 606860  /

Sabe Tibbitts is a strategy specialist. Her India knowledge is in demand as South Asian economies are growing strongly. Projects have been with major manufacturing, distribution and service organisations, identifying manufacturing sites, suppliers and service operations for Europe and Asia. She is a non-executive director on the board of Evolve Creative Ltd London W5

Sectors: Advertising & Marketing Services, Business Services, Creative & Media, and Marketing Services
Countries: India
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