Indians are eager consumers of digital advertising and are five times more willing to share personal data with companies when they are delighted by their digital experience.
Romita Majumdar reports on the rush to gain greater understanding of the way people access, purchase and engage online.
With almost every brand seeking the digital route to the customer's wallet, there is a rush to gain greater understanding of the way people access, purchase and engage online.
Recent surveys by Adobe Digital Insights, SAP India and other agencies are throwing up some answers on what Indian customers want online.
According to Adobe's India Advertising Report 2017, more Indian consumers trust the ads that land up on their digital platforms than anywhere else in the world. They look forward to personalised branded messages and are comfortable if the brands they regularly use and trust collect data to customise website content, advertising and emails.
And unlike their counterparts in other parts of the world, they think marketers are not doing enough to harness the data at their disposal. They want more personalisation; they want more targeting.
"Consumers have higher expectations from their content than ever before. They want personalised and relevant experiences, delivered to them in real time. These digital changes are exciting, but they also present enormous challenges for businesses. There is an increasing need for brands to reach the right people with the right content at the right time," said Kulmeet Bawa, South Asia MD, Adobe.
Indian consumers are also keen on seeing personalised advertisements with 75 per cent positive response to such content, said the Adobe survey.
But consumers are willing to let companies into their online lives only if they are delighted with the experience according to a SAP report, Digital Experience India.
It said that consumers are five times more willing to share personal data with companies when they are delighted by their digital experience.
Zarina Lam Stanford, head of marketing, SAP Asia, says that consumers in India are highly empowered and brands have to learn how to engage them at their convenience to stay relevant.
"Businesses have to put customers first," she says.
The hunger for growth or to make a mark in Indian led brands is paralleled only by China according to Stanford. "Both countries have significant interests in making a mark in the world economy. Both are equally powerful and driven," she adds.
Brands are increasingly being smart about requesting personal data and are looking for new ways to engage customers.
"Initially, they'll just ask for an email address or phone number. After a few transactions they will reach out for further details like gender and preferences. This gives users time to familiarise with the brand (and gain trust)," says Kalpit Jain, CEO, Netcore Solutions.
The SAP study noted that nine out of 10 customers will shift to a competition brand if they face unsatisfactory digital experience. Consumers also tend to shift back to offline channels if the digital experience isn't up to the mark.
One of the defining experiences that customers focus on, before they trust a brand, is mobile friendliness.
"Considering the rapid rise of mobile internet usage in India, digital experience has penetrated rapidly into tier-II cities also through banking and finance services. The next big requirement in the digital marketing sector would be in regional language marketing," said Ajay Kelkar, COO and co-founder, Hansa Cequity.
This behaviour is also driving the growth of omni-channel marketing wherein companies with a strong digital presence are setting up physical stores and touch points to boost their brand experience.
Both Jain and Kelkar agree that Indian consumers are extremely price sensitive.
Even a discount of 5 per cent more on a different platform is enough to shift customer preference.
They also point out that a lot of data that brands are leveraging through digital marketing platforms is not being effectively used to map customer behaviour.
"Over time, as brands understand their users better the digital experience will change but they are still sending out some irrelevant communication as of now," says Jain. Most marketers are in agreement.