Finding Customers in India

As in any new market, going into India requires due diligence and research on a range of issues including customers, market channels, promotion and advertising, and product demand.

Local knowledge is paramount, and it is advisable to engage with business networks, consultants, government support, marketing agencies and legal and accountancy advisers for additional support.


It is important to make yourself aware of any cultural factors that may influence your marketing campaign. India encompasses diverse identities, each with its own sub-culture, languages, attitudes, habits and practices. In many ways it is often helpful to think of India as a diverse collection of states, such as the European Union. Just as you would market your product differently in Norway compared to say Portugal, you should approach West Bengal’s 90 million potential consumers differently to the 70 million in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

These variations in culture and even climate influence preferences in tastes, colours, packaging, and styles. What is successful in one part of the country may not be acceptable in another part. As a result, it is often crucial for businesses targeting India to communicate and market their offering differently in different parts of India.

Many leading marketers acknowledge this and will run different marketing campaigns for different regions, most notably using different brand ambassadors or celebrity endorsers to make a stronger local connection. The product mix, especially in food and beverages, is also often localised to regional preferences.

Of course, in a country with a large population and fast technology adoption rates, the internet can offer a fantastic way to easily reach an enormous number of consumers. India has the 3rd largest number of internet subscribers in the world and is expected to be the 2nd largest smartphone market by 2016. Advertisements on mobile phones and tablets comprised 10% of the Indian online ad market in 2012-13 – a spend of around £27 million. Tapping the mobile industry is key in a market like India where mobiles are becoming increasingly accessible to people across different strata of society. According to an EY report on Social Media Marketing trends in India, Indian organisations use social media much more than their counterparts in emerging economies.


Advertising plays a huge role in influencing public opinion about a brand, giving people more information about products, and essentially making the market more competitive. Online advertising, comprising search, display, mobile, social media, email and video advertising, is increasing in importance. On the other hand, traditional media, including billboards, television, magazines, newspapers, and radio jingles, is still an important medium in India. As in the UK, integrated campaigns across traditional and online media are advisable.

An important opportunity lies in India’s under-penetrated markets; the smaller cities, towns and even villages. An effective marketing campaign utilising local expertise will help you leverage this opportunity.


As in any market a good website will help you to build your brand and make your Indian customers confident about the quality of your product. Your website should be well-constructed, easy to navigate, and have up to date content. Your website should be mobile-friendly. Don’t forget to tailor your content for an Indian audience.

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) provide a paid for service called ‘Export Communications Review’. This can be a useful and cost effect way to find out if your current online channels are suitable for the Indian market. You can find out more here.


If you are yet to introduce your product to India and are still researching the best market entry method, you should consider using existing online marketplaces to showcase your products. This can be an effective way to test and determine the demand for your product as well as conduct basic competitor research. India’s e-commerce market is expected to touch £49 billion by 2021, and online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay have extensive presences in India. Of course, there are also local platforms that shouldn’t be ignored such as Flipkart and Snapdeal.


Active social media users in India number around 106 million. Social media networks are a great and affordable way to build a brand and find customers, especially in India. You can market your products through inexpensive promoted posts. With over 100 million users, India is among the top three countries in terms of number of people using Facebook, and Twitter has a user base of over 33 million. You can effectively use social media to drive traffic to your website and/or online marketplaces. Social media also provides an excellent platform for building a community and customer engagement.

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