Profile of an indian consumer

by admin on July 29, 2006


We have selected for this article the profile of an Indian consumer for the inevitable reason that India is gradually moving up as a Global emerging economical force and is already considered as an international hub for information Technology, Automobiles, Malls both of Indian & foreign companies and Textiles particularly synthetic.

No comprehensive study of the Indian consumer has been undertaken so far. We have to rely on the fragmented studies that have been conducted by different agencies. When we attempt to draw a profile of the Indian consumer, we tread on difficult territory. With due recognition of this limitation, we are outlining a broad profile of the Indian consumer, including his buying motives and habits.

India being very vast geographically, consumers here are naturally scattered over a vast territory. As the country is also marked by great diversity in climate, religion, language, literacy level, customs and calendars, lifestyles and economies status, here consumers present a complex and bizarre group. The heterogeneity holds many implications for a marketer, especially to those going in for national marketing.

As a first step we will go through certain basic data describing a broad profile of the Indian consumer.


Size of population: According to the Census 2001 the population of India stood at 1,027 million, of which 742 million lived in rural areas and 285 million in urban areas.

Literacy and education: According to the Census 2001, the nation’s average literacy rate is 65.4 percent. There is a rise in growth of literacy rate since 1951 and it has increased substantially in the last decade.

From now onwards there will be a faster progress in checking illiteracy as the proportion of youngsters enrolled in schools is going up and more and more neo-literates are also emerging from the adults, as a result of the National Literacy Program. Over 21 percent of all adults in the country now read some publication or the other. In urban areas, the percentage is over 56. The government has targeted to achieve 80 percent literacy on a nationwide basis in the next 10 years.

A vast educated manpower: It is a paradox; on the one hand, India has the highest concentration of illiterates in the world; and on the other, it has the second highest concentration of literates and third largest pool of educated and technically trained manpower in the world. India has a strong pool of engineers, scientists and technically educated persons. In modern fields like information technology, India has been displaying its strength very clearly in recent years.

Diversity, the Hallmark:

Indian consumers are not a homogeneous lot. They are marked by great diversity. It is this diversity that strikes us first when we look at Indian consumers that is diversity in religion, language, culture, tradition, social customs, and dress and food habits.

Religious diversity:

The one billion people of India belong to seven different religious groups—Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians. In addition, there are other persuasions and there are sects, sub-sects, castes and sub-castes. Each religion has its own hierarchic structure, concretized through centuries of practices. Each caste has its own customs established over generations. In birth and death, in marriage and family life, the individual is entangled in the chores of his religion or caste. What is welcome for one religion is taboo for the other; and something totally banned in one religion is an accepted practice in another.

Linguistic diversity:

The same diversity is seen in the matter of language. Sixteen languages have been specified in the Constitution of India as national languages. In addition, there are hundreds of dialects. In several places, many amalgams of languages have been formed as a result of shifting populations. If a marketing man has to approach the entire national market of India, this linguistic diversity is a big challenge.

Diversity in dress and food habits:

As far as dress is concerned, India holds out the picture of widely varying styles. Almost every state, or religious community, has its own traditional styles of dress. The same is the case with ornaments and Jewellery. As regard food, rice is the staple food in the South and wheat in the North. Of course, in several of the southern states people now consume wheat products as co-food items. Likewise, certain southern dishes have become popular in the north. Still the basic difference in food habits remains. There are certain communities, which are strict vegetarians. For meat eaters, there are several restrictions; for the Hindu, beef is taboo, for the Muslim, pork is taboo, for the Christian, both are delicious. Some use coconut oil as the cooking medium, some use groundnut oil, and some others, mustard or gingelly oil.

The conclusion if a marketer wants to market his products in India he has to consider all the above diversified aspects before planning the marketing strategy. Accordingly the advertisements, sales promotion activities, distribution channels and retailing plans must be drawn in order to successfully sell the goods whether for B2B or consumer goods through malls and retailers.

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