Ten emerging trends shaping consumer behaviour in India

23 October 2019 Consultancy.in 4 min. read
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India’s consumer market has not only hit a steep growth trajectory, but is also evolving laterally in line with changing economic conditions across the country. This is according to research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which outlines some of the broad trends that are impacting consumers in India.

Size has been the biggest focus when it comes to the consumer market in India. Recent obstacles aside, India’s economic growth rate is among the highest across the globe, which has led to an overall increase in prosperity levels. The international business environment has wasted no time in recognising the opportunities that this presents.

Indian consumers, who are now in possession of a little extra disposable income, are also faced with a world of choice when it comes to their next purchase. The propensity to spend has also seen an increase, leading many to make lofty predictions for India’s consumer sector going forth.

Emerging consumer behaviour in India

A Bain & Company report compiled in collaboration with the World Economic Forum from earlier this year indicated that India’s consumer market could reach a monumental sum of $6 trillion by as early as 2030, if current economic trends were to persist. BCG has now offered support for these claims by highlighting an increasing will to spend.

According to the management consulting firm, the culture of saving that has been a major factor for the Indian economy traditionally is now giving way to a more open and free spending system. This is not only a product of increasing income levels, but also of exposure to “new ideas and technologies.”

The culture of saving, according to BCG, was primarily driven by a focus on acquiring long term assets such as property. Now, consumers tend more towards spending on ‘experiences, customised products, and time-saving services,’ says the report, which aligns with global perspectives.

Demographic composition of consumers

The shift in perspective is also a product of the demographic composition in India. A 2018 report from Big Four accounting and advisory firm Deloitte revealed that the Indian consumer market is very much being shaped by the millennial mindset, which is fast-paced and driven by technology. 

India’s median population is on the younger side, which has led trends in the consumer market to align more with tech-driven patterns that are visible across the globe. BCG identifies ten broad trends that have emerged as a result of evolving preferences in the Indian market.

Information-centred shopping is the most prominent of these trends, describing the tendency among consumers to inform themselves on at least two data points before making a purchase. The second most prominent – relating to the youth of the consumer market – is the increase of ‘shopping to stay trendy’ rather than out of need.

How trends are affecting product categories

The new, fast-paced economy has also boosted the popularity of what BCG describes as ‘time-saving services,’ which includes pre-packaged food or e-commerce. Health-consciousness is another trend, with consumers leaning towards spending more on organic and healthy food. 

Increased demand for customised-products is also a sign of greater prosperity, while a striking new trend is the ‘rise of the female decision-maker’ in the Indian market. Other trends include a preference for domestic products over international ones, a preference for experiences over products, exclusivity and a propensity to rent rather than buy.