Indian middle class offers growth

30 January 2012

NEW DELHI: The expanding middle class in India will be worth over $1tr by the end of this decade, offering huge opportunities for marketers, a new study has argued.

According to figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the advisory firm, this consumer segment is due to achieve a value of $1tr by 2021, part of a trend observable across a number of developing nations.

The key driver for this process in India will be the rising number of people within the middle class, increasing from 470m in 2010 to 570m in 2021, a shift holding considerable promise for marketers.

"Our research shows pioneers that succeed in creating profitable growth use strategies and innovations very different from those employed in more developed economies," the study said.

Generating in-depth consumer insights must play an essential role in securing such a favourable position, reflecting the fact that these shoppers have distinctive needs within countries like India.

"Value propositions can't simply focus on low cost if they are also going to connect with the segment's aspirational framework. Nor can companies treat the emerging middle class as a homogeneous set of customers," the study said.

"Differences based on location (urban vs rural), age, religion, and language require customised products and services based around a standard and scalable platform and the right value proposition will fuel rapid growth."

SD Shibulal, CEO of Infosys, the IT services firm, suggested that innovation would be a crucial capability for organisations seeking to progress in India and other similar nations.

"India has an emerging middle class of 300m people, they want goods, they want services," he said. "Countries like India are looking for products that are affordable, durable, relevant to the market."

"So many corporations, not only from Europe, from anywhere else in the world, are looking at these emerging markets as growth opportunities."

Wipro, another information technology pioneer based in India, is also utilising knowledge gained locally to achieve success overseas.

"Some of our highest growth markets are outside the Western world, including India, including the Far East, including the Middle East, and what we're doing is very, very significant reverse innovation in India, custom made to the domestic requirements of the emerging markets," said Azim Premji, its chairman.

Data sourced from Business Standard/CNN; additional content by Warc staff