The Rise In Digital Dependence: How Brands Are Communicating Via Digital Platforms The affordable mobile data rate, rapidly rising numbers of users, and the enhanced utility value of smartphones contribute to the mobile-heavy Internet access in India

By Kaushal Thakkar

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The digital wave has been transforming modern India for a while now. But the coronavirus pandemic has created unique circumstances. People had been bound within the confines of their home. This has opened a window of opportunity for businesses and marketers. Many attribute these circumstances to the growing digital dependence among Indians, which involved both long and short term factors.

Growing Internet penetration

Over the years, India has seen a continuous rise in new Internet users. In 2020, India had almost 700 million Internet users. This number is expected to rise to over 974 million users by 2025. It was believed to increase in both urban and rural regions, indicating a substantial growth in internet accessibility.

The affordable mobile data rate, rapidly rising numbers of users, and the enhanced utility value of smartphones contribute to the mobile-heavy Internet access in India.

The growth of digital in post-COVID era

Brands have to be where the masses are, especially in the times of coronavirus catalysed digital dependency. Throughout the nationwide lockdown in India, people were compelled to remain in the safety of their homes with limited access to shops or entertainment avenues. This led to increased Internet consumption and various online platforms. So brands had no alternative but to adopt a "digital first' strategy.

Here's how various industries were impacted and fared:

E-commerce expansion: In 2020, India's e-commerce platforms raked in $8.3 billion in gross sales during the online festive sale season, which lasts around a month, from October through November. The post-pandemic landscape led to 88 per cent customer growth compared to 2019, with around 40 million active online shoppers. This includes brands and sellers gross sales, which went up by 65 per cent year-on-year, surpassing expectations, according to a report by consulting firm, RedSeer.

Presently, most Indian consumers rely heavily on digital and social media platforms for purchase-related research such as beauty tutorials, reviews, eventually buying products over the Web, said a joint report by Google, Kantar, and WPP. A millennial workforce, wide-scale Internet availability and higher per capita consumption can be considered the driving factors.

Rapid growth opportunities: Owing to the continuously increasing Internet user base and favourable market conditions, India has a significant amount of untapped potential in the e-commerce industry.

Growing exponentially, the market value of India's e-commerce industry was approximately $50 billion in 2018. This number is estimated to reach a massive $200 billion by 2027.

Increase in online learning prospects: Worldwide, there were around more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries affected by school closures due to the pandemic in 2020.

According to Google, the searches for "online learning' and "online courses' saw a spontaneous surge across India, beginning in March second week of last year. There was an enormous 237 per cent increase in search volume. It is said that language, professional, and extracurricular skills have attracted people during the pandemic. K12 apps and education facilitation technology such as Google Classroom are also rising up to the challenge as circumstances make students embrace them.

The rise of OTT: Digital content is now easily localised and has a wide array of choices in genres, titles, customisation, and flexibility when it comes to consumption on any device. Divya Dixit, SVP, marketing, analytics and direct revenue at Alt Balaji, sheds more light on why OTT is growing in demand among consumers. She states in an episode of The Growth Genius Podcast, "OTT provides the convenience of consuming content any time, anywhere and however much I want. So, as a consumer, you end up controlling everything. That control mechanism in the hands of consumers which is making this platform very popular."

Also, the constant stream of live user insights gleaned from OTT apps gives providers the in-depth data required to provide viewers with more tailored content, making it an efficient and rewarding cycle for providers and viewers alike.

Digital first approach: There was an upsurge of brands investing in digital marketing as the pandemic made traditional mediums difficult to run. At Infidigit, a digital marketing agency, we saw a 200 per cent increase in leads as compared to pre-pandemic times. Work with large brands such as, ixigo and several others began in the midst of the pandemic. We expect this trend to cover more ground as businesses continue to embrace digital media for effective and safe marketing.

According to a study by Conductor, a marketing services company, more than half of the marketers, i.e. 63 per cent, believe that SEO is important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, when asked how a global recession would impact their marketing strategy, 34 per cent of marketers said they would specifically invest in lower-cost channels such as SEO.

The Way Forward

In the foreseeable future, digital marketing is set to gain preference among marketers and service providers. With a CAGR of 22 per cent, the growth trajectory is rising with increased internet penetration in the country. During the pandemic, people across demographics were noted to be online for more number of hours than on average. It is, therefore, safe to say that businesses would benefit greatly by exploring digital marketing opportunities due to a rise in digital dependence.

Wavy Line
Kaushal Thakkar

Founder, Infidigit

Kaushal Thakkar is the founder of INFIDIGIT; a company focused on driving digital growth and generating higher ROI via Organic marketing. Kaushal believes in the sheer power of numbers with proficiency in creating solutions that drive long term growth. With more than 18 years of experience in the world of Digital Marketing, he leads a team of 55+ Digital Marketing Experts. 

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