Marketing to Indians – The Indian Way (Part II)

In my previous post (which you can read here –, I had introduced the Indian principle of SAMVAD – a most useful marketing tool to reach and keep customers. The term “samvad” is a Sanskrit word signifying the idea of “dialogue.”  For marketers, what this means is, use your activities in India to ENGAGE the consumer; do not monologue with her about your market offering. Talk to your Indian audience, not as you would to discrete data points in bookkeeping transactions, but as a body-mind-intellect-spirit complex. This is what I’ve christened “The Samvad Principle of Market Engagement”. SPME is the acronym.

In today’s post, I will introduce you to the first tenet of the SPME

For your product, service or brand to occupy a distinct position, relative to competition, in the minds of your Indian consumers, it must engage with the individual first and then society as a whole. It must do so on four distinct levels – body, mind, intellect & spirit.

Individually, at each of these four levels, the product, service or brand must embody a set of core values that can help it emerge as a winner. I have identified these core values based on how intrinsic they are to our genetic make-up as Indians. These are the pulse points to capture the hearts & minds of your Indian audience.

I know what you must be thinking now:

You:    This is a rather tall mountain to climb…..Indian mumbo-jumbo?

Me:      Nope. This mountain can be summitted. It can be done. I can show you how. And the rewards of doing this well is ‘profits in plenty’.

You:    Why is everything about India always this ridiculous?

Me:      Because India does not lend itself easily to Western paradigms. Indians confuse you and it is easy to label what you do not understand as ‘ridiculous’. Yes, India is a land of ‘ridiculous’… – we are a bunch of ordinary people living extraordinary lives.

You:    But…..if……so……..

Me:      To survive in the Indian market, leave alone thrive in it, you have to suspend obstructionist thinking. Like I say to my Western clients, you cannot adopt linear logic with people who gave the world the concept of “zero”. Do you know why we Indians consume products and services?

You:    **The Indian Headshake**

Me:      Because, as Indians, we prefer to fill our life with adventures, not things (the latest Amazon ad shows this well – see it here- We prefer to have stories to tell, not stuff to show (Amazon again – see the ad here – Remember, we are a society that places a higher premium on community spirit as compared to individualism.

You:    Can you prove this?

Me:      Sure, visit Facebook or Instagram and check out what we Indians are doing there. Or see the way we eat our food, watch our films, celebrate our festivals, spend time with our family & cast our votes. See our streak of adventure in all this?……….. Our story telling abilities? ………….I rest my case.


Illustrator : Kavita Gopalakrishnan

Now that we have sorted out any mind bugs you may have, let me show you how to engage Indian consumers at the most basic level. I call this the ‘The Body Level”. To engage them in your market offering you need to leverage the core value of Valour.


Value Descriptor (Meaning) Product/Service/Brand engagement that embodies this The SPME in action
Decisive Titan Watches Raga Indian women were a patronized lot, shorn of the power to decide the course of their own lives, leave alone their careers. But in the India of today, women are tackling their issues head on and starting a discussion, if not shattering common stereotypes. This is reflected in the TVC’s, run by Titan Raga as part of the ‘Her Life Her Choices’ series which shows progressive Indian women of today and has the most contemporary expression of Indian men.

This ad starring Nimrat Kaur tells the story of a modern woman, who is passionate about her work, comfortable in her identity and not willing to conform to societal norms. Decisive.

Watch the advertisement here:

Not seeking permission for acting Tata Tea Jaago Re Jaago Re, is a metaphor for physical waking up/awakening in society. The ad shows the current reactive nature of Indians. It shows how people tend to rally for an issue once it has happened. The way they take to on-ground and social media after something bad has already happened. This ad urges the audience to do away with waiting till things go wrong or till crisis strikes.
“”Why do we get comfortable with reacting and not pre-acting on issues? Why react once the tragedy has happened? “ is the basic question that the film is addressing. It urges Indians, “Let’s act when it matters the most. Let’s be Pre-Activists”.Watch the advertisement here:

Fight for what is right or one’s own Havells Appliances Coffee Maker The masters of tongue-in-cheek commercials, Havells, have beautifully portrayed the ‘Respect Woman’ theme through their latest campaign.  It’s almost taken for granted, in India, that the woman in the house will do the job of a home appliance. The Havells TVC shows that there are appliances to do that job. The campaign almost pokes fun at Indian society which expects women to do work which can be done by anyone using a home appliance.

In a firm, unobtrusive but assertive way, the ad serves as reminder to respect women. She isn’t a kitchen appliance! Havells can do this job just fine.

Watch the advertisement here:

Prove might without resorting to injustice Bajaj V – Vikrant The Invincible Bajaj Auto’s TVC for V, the motorcycle that is forged from the metal body of India’s pride, the legendary and now decommissioned INS Vikrant warship, poses an important question to the viewer: Why should the mind evoke national pride only on select days of the year, only to be forgotten for the rest of the days?

The ad reminds Indians of the sacrifices and victories they’ve made as a nation, and today they can celebrate that pride everyday with V. This is the core thinking for this TVC. Strength is not resorting to injustice. Might is true, honest and pure.

Watch the advertisement here:

Avoid inappropriate emotional surges SBI Life Insurance With a tagline of “With us, you’re sure,” the TVC for SBI Life Insurance touches an emotional chord with its target group, which essentially comprises 30+ males. The clear message in this campaign is never let money come in the way of expressing your love. That SBI Life is the best to manage your money so that you don’t have a care in the world in your old age.

In a restrained but compelling manner, this ad speaks to 25-35 year old Indian men, for whom pension does not figure as an investment option since they think they are too young for it. Their world essentially revolves around their families. They often compromise on investing for their future because they are so busy saving for their families. This ad communicates to the viewers that they should start investing early so that there is no problem later in life. Using the emotion of love, without the syrupy overflow, this TVC communicates the value proposition quite effectively.

Watch the advertisement here:


Very few businesses have got this combination of Valor right. But the companies that have done so are reaping rich rewards in the Indian markets. ITC Limited, Britannia Industries Limited & Parle Agro are case in point.

So as you foray into the Indian market, do keep in mind the Code of Valour. It is stability, not of strategy and tactics, but of courage to play the market game in India by our rules and the soul to serve Indians as profitable customers. The Great Indian Market is always about hope. It is about compassion, excellence and valour. And always, valour is superior to number.


For any assistance on how to use this body level SPME in your business, please reach out to me at  I would be glad to serve you.

Have a relaxed and safe weekend. See you on the other side.





About Priya Ramachandran

I am the Founder & Principal Consultant at Cobblestones Consulting, Pune, India - a boutique non-clinical healthcare services firm that offers its services to hospitals and small healthcare service providers looking to win in the Indian market. We offer our services for Market Research, Business Advisory & Corporate Training. We help health care providers grow their business exponentially through developing targeted business strategies, data management competencies and operational excellence that is aligned to their overall business goals. My blog, Prosperji, offers a very Indian take on doing business in Indian healthcare, a market which can singe you hotter than Indian summers, but if you play it well, the rewards are as plentiful as the Indian monsoon. Welcome to the ride of your life! Swagatam.

Posted on March 10, 2017, in Marketing strategy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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