Around a dozen global consumer-facing companies reported robust growth in India in the January to March quarter, surpassing even pre-Covid levels with a high double-digit rate for several.
India is among the top-performing areas for several of these firms, including Unilever, Visa, Whirlpool, and Pernod.
Companies sold inventory amid increased Covid-19 instances and municipal restrictions, resulting in large discounts on some discretionary products such as apparel and shoes across platforms throughout the country. Several CEOs have also stated that they are increasing their investment in India.
Sales of everyday household products and basics grew mostly owing to price increases, as corporations raised prices to offset rising raw material, energy, packaging, and transportation costs.
Some of the best “corporate storytelling” is coming out of India
The most valuable companies in India include Tata Sons, Aditya Birla and Godrej. The most valuable in the world are Apple, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft (with the order changing every now and then). These companies cover a wide range of sectors but there is one common element. A consistent and strategic content narrative.
That’s an area well understood by Mumbai-based The Information Company (TIC) which is positioned as a “content, creative and digital agency preferred by India’s leading corporates”.
Corporate Storytellers. That’s how they like to be known.
The Information Company – Storytellers to India Inc
TIC started in 1999 and I have known them since 2004, when I connected with Founder Kiron Kasbekar, formerly Editor of The Economic Times (Bombay), Business Editor of The Times of India, and Managing Editor of Business India.
TIC has been ‘living and breathing’ content for more than 20 years, with its foundations built by top-notch journalists who brought their expertise in impactful storytelling to the game. Since then, TIC has added technologists, graphic designers, writers, videographers, and SEO specialists to the mix to execute great communication projects.
Their storytelling services are being used by the some of India’s largest, most influential, and best brands – Tata Sons, Aditya Birla Group, Godrej, Mahindra Group, Ambuja Cement, Hindalco, Fino, Cipla, Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel, Capgemini, Weber Shandwick, and many more.
Storytelling for a purpose
TIC doesn’t just tell stories – the focus on storytelling towards a purpose, whether that is building digital brand identity, promoting business interests, creating perceptions, or reaching out to stakeholders.
One of the most unleveraged areas of communication is ‘thought leadership’, with much of it being overt promotion or semi-advertising. Here, TIC has been able to carve out a niche – crafting the voices of corporate brand and corporate leaders, and delivering good thought leadership content that is credible, engaging, accurate and consistent.
One of their unique skills is to write authored articles on behalf clients across industries such as automotive, aviation, chemical, consumer products, energy, engineering, IT, insurance, oil & gas, pharma, mining, manufacturing and infrastructure.
Blogs for Interaction
Blogs is another area where, for many organisations, things go wrong. The most common mistake is to come across as self-promoting. Or the organisation starts a blog but tires of it – so their latest blog is two or three years ago. Not a good look.
But the blog can be immensely valuable – it is the one platform for any company to connect with all its stakeholders, interact with them, connect like-minded enthusiasts and so on – through focused storytelling. No wonder then that TIC creates over 30 blogs every month.
Websites that just don’t sit there
Owned communication assets such as websites should not be static – they need to be information rich, and continually updated. They are the first stop for information that is used by investors, clients, media, prospective customers, prospective employees, regulatory bodies. The website is a critical and strategic asset to broadcast the corporate narrative.
Tata Chemicals, Tata Trusts, Rallis, Lupin, Hindalco, Ambuja Cement Foundation, and Suzlon are just some of TIC’s website clients. And this does not include the list of intranet clients!
Sometimes, a visual story tells more than a thousand words. Infographics are mostly data driven – the magic lies in crafting a coherent story around data.
By writing compelling text and presenting it in an efficient and visually pleasing manner, TIC ensures that an engaging story emerges from each Infographic. This form of content is its way, both art and science.
Campaigns – traction and reaction
Engaging with employees – especially in an age of WFH – has taken on a new significance. Companies often rely on emailer campaigns to connect. But how do we gain traction and reaction?
Whether the campaign is to showcase business achievements, announce a product launch or an event, highlight business achievement, connect with employees or other stakeholders, TIC partners several big corporates to put in the right words to their thoughts.
Social media campaigns take the need for creativity to another level. Here too TIC builds award-winning strategic campaigns for clients such as Godrej and Hindalco.
Video now “most effective”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth 1.8 million – that is the view of TIC, and they see video as “the most effective way to narrate a story”. Be it explainer, animated, VFX, event, HR videos or corporate films, TIC creates videos for Aditya Birla Group, Sterling & Wilson, Asian Paints, and Hindalco.
Beware of stepping into ‘content overload’, a sign of our times. How do you ensure ‘thumb-stopping’, shareworthy content for your brand? One easy hack is to make sure the content is dynamic, visually rich and – most important – interactive! Adding a layer of interactivity to your content – blogs, posts, videos, graphics, podcasts, whatever – will add to brand recall and engagement. Even a simple quiz, for instance, becomes interactive content and can be a game changer for your brand. And that is what TIC delivers.
Awards tell the story
Recognition is the best sequel to creativity. TIC has won a slew of awards for its work – here is just a tiny fraction of the recent accolades won:
Double Platinum at the ‘AVA Digital Awards 2022’ for Tata Sons e-magazine and a video for Sterling & Wilson Renewable Energy Ltd
‘Mint Marketing Award 2021’ for Hindalco’s #WomenAtHindalco social media campaign
Gold for Hindalco’s internal newsletter at the ‘Afaqs! Digies 2021’
Bronze for Aditya Birla Group’s #HaathUthanaZarooriHai video at the ‘Velocity Awards’
Best Content agency at ‘The Great Indian Content Marketing Awards 2021’
For more on how TIC can support your communication objectives, just drop a message on firstname.lastname@example.org. Or better still, call at +91 842 581 4016 / 17.
I want to thank my friend Gopi Shankar for drawing my attention to this stunning development for Indian startups. Gopi is based in Bangalore (Bengaluru) and is Director – Trade & Industry | Global Victoria, Victorian Government Trade and Investment.
Money flowed into Indian startups in 2021 like never before. The ecosystem broke all the previous records in terms of fundraising and minting unicorns during the 12 month–period. According to data compiled by Fintrackr, total investments that flowed into Indian startups stood close to $38 billion in 2021. This is over three times more than the $11.1 billion in total funding that startups received during 2020.
Fintrackr’s data further shows that 1,391 startups mopped up $37.98 billion across 1,625 deals in 2021 which included 380 growth and late-stage startups and 948 early-stage startups. Among them, 297 startups, mainly early-stage, did not disclose their deal size.
Follow the lead of successful businesses who have advanced by integrating Indian culture and values into their offering.
Abandon the “quick sale” old mindset and adopt patience and a long-term view.
Model your business on Macquarie Bank – this works whether you are a large or small enterprise. Their central plank for India was partnering is the key to success.
Abhishek Poddar, Managing Director, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) “India is one market where you need deep experience if you’re going to be successful. You have to take the time to appreciate and understand its unique culture and ways of working.”
Be clear about what India wants. Macquarie saw infrastructure and clean energy opportunities and focused just on them.
Most successful businesses in India have some philanthropic activity – this is highly worthwhile and well regarded in India.
Establish good relations with Government at Central and State levels – this is vital to being accepted in India.
Consider options such as acquisitions and partnerships which can speed up your market acceptance.
Be there for the long haul – Deakin University continues to make gains in India and has been present there for over 25 years.
Develop a local Indian team and allow them to apply their own culture – within your larger business culture.
Retail growth in north and west India (Delhi and Mumbai) biggest increase
According to the Retailers Association of India’s (RAI) latest business survey, retail sales in India increased 10% in February this year compared to the same month last year, indicating that the industry is returning to normalcy. The increase is also a 6% increase over February 2020.
Growth in the regions might provide a guide on where your best brand opportunities are – Retail firms in all regions showed growth in February 2022, with sales in West India up 16% YoY, East India increased by 4%, North India increased by 17%, and South India had a 4% increase.
Consumer durables and electronics, food and grocery, and quick service restaurants (QSR) all saw strong YoY increase of 28%, 19%, and 16%, respectively.
The apparel and footwear categories have also shown double-digit increase.
Talking to your State Government India business offices and to Austrade is a good idea – and have a chat with those who have been there before you.
India has the largest child population globally – 125-150 million in the age group up to 4 years.
With increasing numbers of Indian women in employment, rising awareness of child nutrition and rapid urbanisation, the paediatric nutrition category presents a significant growth opportunity.
Opportunities include child products in health, wellness and nutrition space – encompassing wellness nutrition as well as disease specific nutrition and our consumer brands.
Add to this education and learning, toys, clothing and much more.
The Demographic Dividend
In a favourable development for India, the growth in India’s working age population (people between 15 and 64 years of age) is outnumbering the growth in its dependant population. Children aged 14 or below as well as people aged above 65 years fall under the latter category.
This surge in the working-age population is expected to last for a total spell of 37 years, until 2055.
According to studies, such a phase is usually accompanied by a rapid economic growth.
According to research by London & Partners and its analysis of Dealroom.co investment data, India was the second-largest global venture capital investment hub for digital retail startups in 2022, increasing sharply by 175% from US$ 8 billion in 2020 to US$ 22 billion in 2021. Last year, India came in second to the United States, which attracted US$ 51 billion in investment, followed by China, which received US$ 14 billion, and the United Kingdom, which received US$ 7 billion. Bengaluru led the way in terms of worldwide Venture Capital (VC) investments in digital shopping in 2021, with US$ 14 billion, followed by Gurugram with US$ 4 billion and Mumbai with US$ 3 billion.
Bengaluru was a global leader in digital shopping investment last year. The metropolis nearly tripled its inflows of investments from US$ 5 billion in 2020 to take first place, ahead of New York City (second), San Francisco (third), London (fourth), and Berlin (fifth). Bengaluru was placed fifth among cities with the potential to produce future unicorns, just behind London, according to the research. Following a large consumer shift to e-commerce platforms during the pandemic, global venture capital investment in digital shopping more than doubled in 2021. In 2021, total worldwide venture capital investment is estimated to have reached a new high of US$ 140 billion, up from US$ 68 billion in 2020.
Ricky Ponting has teamed up with Mr Riggs for the India wine market
Sam Freeman is Trade and Investment Commissioner at Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in India and is working with the Aussie wine industry to boost sales in India.
Now he is supporting Ricky Ponting (Ponting Wines) and Ben Riggs (Mr Riggs) in entering the India market.
He says: “Australia has witnessed a dramatic rise in the volume and value of wine being imported into India. The last 12 months have seen 81% growth in Australian exports to India and 10 new brands entering the market.
“Austrade is working with a number of wineries across Australia, to assist in their access to this small but emerging market. It was great to see coverage of one of our clients in Glam Adelaide, expressing their interest in the market and the potential it holds.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Ricky, David & Ben to help them build a strategy and channel for Ponting Wines to enter India. We look forward to seeing their labels on shelves soon.”
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.
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!