India is the second-most populous country in the world with over 1.2 billion people. Once a British colony, India has emerged as the world's largest democracy and an emerging market. Whether you're looking to partner with an existing business in India or only looking to reach Indian customers using a website, here are few important considerations for targeting an Indian Audience.
The Indian subcontinent is home to great linguistic diversity. The People's Linguistic Survey of India found over 780 languages spoken in India, with about 122 of them spoken by over 10,000 people. While the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution recognizes 22 languages, Hindi and English are the languages used by India's Central Government. Hindi is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world and the most commonly spoken in India. English in India uses English (UK) spelling due to its roots with colonization. Indians mostly use English as a second or third language. Theo twenty-nine states and seven union territories of India can choose which language they want for their official language. In north-central India – known as the Hindi Belt – Hindi is the official language and the majority language in this region.
Other prominent languages spoken in India include Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamli, Telugu, and Urdu. If you are looking to market to a particular region in India, note what language is spoken and localize accordingly. The same applies to business meetings – use local interpreters and linguists to translate written content.
India's official currency is the Indian rupee (₹). In November 2016, India's government launched a demonetization of about 86 percent of its money to cut down on counterfeit currency and black-market cash. Previously, India was primarily a cash-based society, with about 45 percent of online payments made in Cash on Delivery (COD). And the transition has led to an explosion of digital payment apps and debit card usage.
Where are Indian Consumers Spending their Money?
India's population is very young, with about 65 percent of the population born after 1980. In 2016, Goldman Sachs profiled India's consumers and identified seven key consumption patterns:
- looking better,
- eating better,
- better home,
- having more fun,
- well-being (health/education), and
Business Culture in India
Not only is India a linguistically diverse country, but a culturally diverse one as well. Religion plays a significant role in Indian society, especially Hinduism, which is practiced by about 80 percent of the population. As such, during major holidays and festivals – Holi in the spring and Diwali in the fall – businesses shut down.
Business culture in India stems from British colonial roots. Culture is very formal, and dress is very conservative. Titles such as Dr., Mr., Mrs., etc. are very important, and you should always address someone by their title and surname unless they tell you otherwise. Hierarchy is highly valued as well. Always greet senior people first and greet each person individually. Handshakes are typically a standard greeting for business meetings; however, men and women shaking hands is not always the norm.
If you're looking to do more business in India, the first step is to present your content in the correct language and localize to the region's values and needs. For more help in connecting with the Indian market, contact us.