Brands target Indian youth

16 November 2010

NEW DELHI: Advertisers like Yum Brands and Hindustan Unilever are increasingly focusing on young Indian consumers, as this group now constitutes the most attractive target audience in the country.

Yum Brands, parent of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, plans to invest $100m (€73.4m; £62.2m) in India, trebling its number of restaurants by 2015.

To engage youthful diners, Pizza Hut has been making heightened use of social media, and boasts 12m Facebook followers from the Asian nation.

"Social media has opened up a new vista for us in marketing which didn't exist before. And we're very, very big on it," said Anup Jain, marketing director, Pizza Hut.

"Through this medium, we can reach out to a lot of people who are young, in between the ages of 15 and 34."

"They're young enough, they're having the purchasing power for the first time, they're taking their own decisions on eating out."

Godrej, a conglomerate present in sectors such as personal care, household goods and durables, is aiming to achieve similar goals.

"Brands are going younger demographically, their targets reducing from 35 to 25 years," Ashutosh Tiwari, evp, strategic marketing at Godrej, told the Hindustan Times.

"But psychographically, consumers across age bands are getting younger in their mindsets and behaviour."

The organisation's initiatives include introducing a modern furniture range, called Interio, to building a branded social network, GoJiyo, seeking to draw "youth who have not really interacted with the Godrej brand."

Elsewhere, Hindustan Unilever has adapted its approach, offering anti-ageing products and fairness creams for men and women.

"India is changing fast, getting more affluent and younger. It is a given that all brands need to look and feel contemporary to retain appeal," said Govind Rajan, head of HUL's skincare arm.

Dabur, another FMCG firm, has employed cricketer MS Dohni and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty as brand ambassadors for different products, alongside reworking packaging and marketing messages in areas like nutrition.

"Our products are finding resonance in a shift in perception on healthcare - from disease and ill health five years ago to good health and wellness now," said KK Rajesh, Dabur's evp, marketing, healthcare vertical.

"Our sales have gone up well since the changes."

Sharda Agarwal, director at MarketGate Consulting, argued the fact India houses more people under 25 years of age than any other country has exerted a profound impact.

"The media hype around young India … has ingrained the feeling among marketers that this target is a must for their brands," said Agarwal.

"Also, when category penetration is low, brands tend to target the majority consuming population - that's youth in India."

However, CD Choi, Samsung India's vp, corporate marketing, suggested the goods sold by manufacturers ultimately play the deciding role.

"Eventually, it all depends on the products you offer. Samsung is continuously launching innovative, next generation technology and convergence products," said Choi.

Data sourced from Hindustan Times; additional content by Warc staff