MUMBAI: India's urban women are looking for support and self-expression in online communities and some of these wield huge influence on category and brand choices, according to a leading brand marketer.

Writing exclusively for Warc about marketing to India's online women, Anamika Sirohi says an estimated 200m Indian women will be online by 2020, equivalent to the entire English-speaking population of the country. And half of these women are likely to shop online.

(For more, including how brands can capture the attention of Indian women, read Warc's report: Marketing to India's Online Women: Video, Social Media and E-commerce.)

Rising internet penetration on the subcontinent, alongside the popularity of messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, is fundamentally changing how Indian women discover brands, Sirohi writes.

Chat apps like WhatsApp are widely used and these social communities carry huge influence on purchase choices while also tapping into the local realities of a city or community.

Mothers' groups on Facebook, such as Gurgaon Moms or MUMO Mumbai moms, have a very active and influential member base, Sirohi explains.

Though WhatsApp can't be tracked currently by brands, she says the app, which is hugely popular in wider Asia, plays an important role in influencing opinions and has a strong word-of-mouth factor.

She recommends using this channel, in addition to social platforms and phone numbers, as a consumer engagement touch point as a good place to start.

Video content, such as instructional videos, also offers opportunities to connect. FMCG brands such as Unilever are already capitalising on Indian women actively seeking out content on beauty with branded content marketing initiatives.

However, Sirohi points out, this space is largely owned by independent video bloggers at the moment – although that provides a potential option for influencer partnerships.

Data sourced from Warc