MUMBAI: India’s marketers must "stay humble and paranoid" to avoid being disrupted by competitors during the mobile revolution, according to the head of Facebook in the country.

"In a country of 1.2 billion people whose GDP is US$2.1 trillion, today we have a billion cell phones," said Umang Bedi, Facebook's Managing Director for India & South Asia, while addressing the 13th IAMAI Marketing Conclave in Mumbai.

(For more on the changing role of the marketer amid India's soaring mobile phone penetration, read WARC's exclusive report: Redefining marketing for India's mobile era.)

Bedi explained that Indians are consuming 1.3bn gigabytes of data per month compared to the US which consumes about 670m per month, according to data released by Facebook India.

"The time spent on the mobile in India is seven times the time spent on television. An average Indian spends two-and-a-half to three hours a day on the phone, he or she unlocks the phone 80 to 100 times a day," he said.

"[Some] 42% of all commerce in India happens on a mobile phone – that is the highest in the world. 76% use it for research and other post-purchase behaviour for products that are on offer," he added.

The way to serve emerging India, according to Bedi, is through what he terms "disruptive innovation".

His theory is that a disruptor comes in at the low end of the market, produces a low quality product, and over time disrupts the biggest category leader.

Telco challenger brand Reliance Jio was successful using this strategy after it gave away its product for free and disrupted category competitors, prompting a price war. (For more on how Reliance Jio disrupted India's telco category, read WARC's report: Reliance Jio – India's telco 'startup' with 100 million subscribers.)

"Today there are more mobile phones in India – and on planet earth – than toilets or toothbrushes. It's become bigger than even basic necessities of life," Bedi said.

"We as leaders and marketers need to stay extremely humble and extremely paranoid. And we have to be innovative to see how we can disrupt ourselves before we find ourselves disrupted."

Data sourced from WARC