India’s middle class and wealthy consumers – the facts reveal why you should engage with India

Conservative figures put the Indian middle class at 228 million

How big is India’s middle and wealthy class? And where are they?

Although this information is essential to your India engagement strategy, until now the answers have really only been speculation.

Lack of data continues to be a challenge, and estimates can vary wildly.

So, INTO INDIA brings you some numbers robust enough for you to use in your planning.

While some estimates put the middle class at 500 million or more, using a much tighter definition of middle class, Hurun Research produced much smaller numbers than most. They defined middle class as households who have more than over A$4,682 per year to spend on housing, travel, cars, education and products. These numbers found 57 million Indian households in the combined class of middle class and wealthy. Now, assuming each household might be four people, that becomes 228 million people.

Things are changing so fast that researchers have added a new category – the “New Middle Class”. In 2021 this new group was 633,000 households – around 2.5 million individuals. Who is in this group? It is those households who have approximately A$37,500 per year to spend on housing, travel, cars, education and products – a very exciting market!

Most of my research – but not all of it – comes from the Hurun Report, a leading research, luxury publishing and events group established in London in 1998 with presence in India, China, France, UK, USA, Australia, Japan, Canada and Luxembourg. It is widely recognized world-over for its comprehensive evaluation of the wealthiest individuals across the globe.

There are 412,000 dollar-millionaire households/affluent households in India with a networth of at least US$1 million.

Hurun Rich Listers have a wealth of Rs 1,000 crore (142 million), the report says, and pegs the number of such cumulative households in India at 3,000.

At the other end of the spectrum is the ‘Indian middle class’ that has earnings of over Rs 2.5-lakh per annum (over A$4,682) and a net worth of less than Rs 7 crore (A$1.3 million). 56,400,000 families in India fall under this category – approximately 224 million individuals.

The McKinsey Global Institute, which defines India’s middle class as households with real annual disposable incomes between 200,000 and 1 million rupees (US$3,606 to $18,031), estimates the ranks of middle class will more than double by 2025 to 583 million—41 percent of the population.

Where are they?

The top 10 states home to 70.3 per cent of millionaire households in India are Maharashtra (capital is Mumbai) has the highest number of millionaires (56,000), followed by Uttar Pradesh (36,000), Tamil Nadu (35,000), Karnataka (33,000) and Gujarat (29,000). City-wise, Mumbai is home to most millionaires (16,933), followed by Delhi (16,000), Kolkata (10,000), Bengaluru (7,582) and Chennai (4,685).

Aslany, who published a study on the Indian middle class in 2019, found that contrary to most assumptions, a significant segment of the Indian middle class resides in rural areas. About 28.05% of India’s population was middle class, Aslany found, adding that 52.31% of the lower middle class, more than 32% of the comfortable middle class, and more than 23% of the upper-middle class was in rural India. Most of the lower middle class in rural India are involved in agriculture, he said.

These realistic numbers should excite you to engage with India – right now demand for everything has gone through the roof!

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

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