NEW DELHI: Consumer behaviour in India is continuing to develop, offering considerable room for growth in what is regarded as a key future growth market, Nitin Paranjpe, ceo of Hindustan Unilever, has said.

It has been estimated that the FMCG sector in India will record double-digit increases in sales each year until 2018, with heightened demand in less-developed areas being among the major drivers of this expansion.

Speaking on the closing day of the Indian Economic Summit, Paranjpe argued purchase preferences across the country also now appear to be growing more consistent.

"It is difficult to say that the urban consumer will do this and the rural will do different things," he said.

Despite this, he suggested shoppers in India are still somewhat behind their counterparts in China in terms of per capita spending on products like shampoo, detergent and skincare brands.

More positively, he forecast that consumption levels will improve going forward, as a result of rising individual wealth and greater exposure to brands and advertising among younger people.
 "These consumers have been brought up on a diet of advertising with brands beaming down the message and stoking desires and aspirations," said Paranjpe.

As such, their values are considerably different than those of older generations, with beneficial implications for sectors ranging from personal care and leisure to entertainment and out-of-home dining.

"Self-indulgence was frowned upon not so long ago but austerity is no longer the value people cherish," Hindustan Unilever's ceo said.

"There has particularly been an increase in the sales of personal care products in the economy, which is a direct reflection of the fact that Indians now are willing to spend on themselves, a phenomenon that was scorned earlier."

Procter & Gamble, one of Hindustan Unilever's major rivals, has recently stated its intention to add an extra 500 million people to its customer base in India in the next five years.

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