To the surprise of many, India is the world’s largest democracy, with 1.2 Billion people. Best practices on how to conduct research in this massive and increasingly affluent market have captured the attention of many Fortune 2000 insights teams, who are continually looking for innovative ways to penetrate this prominent country.
While at GutCheck, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with a worldwide team of in-country research experts that field studies, moderate groups, gather targeted feedback, and present the key findings and major implications within their home countries. These experts add significant value by having a feet-on-the-ground perspective for the research conducted in geographic locations like India and making sure teams are getting the most out of their research.
Today we are going to talk specifically about some of the critical nuances we have discovered within the region.
Keys To India Market Understanding
While India’s specific nuances are numerous, I found these 5 themes to be most important to understand.
1. Conduct Studies in Hindi or English: Because there are officially over 122 languages spoken in India it can be rather difficult to conduct a vast reaching study. Hindi or English are the most prevalent languages and should be selected depending upon the profile of the respondents.
2. Avoid Conducting Research During Major Events & Holidays: It will be especially difficult to field your studies during the following time periods:
- Lok Sabha & Vidhan Sabha Elections
- Local and national curfews, known as bandhs, where a political party or community declares a general strike.
- Highly watched cricket fixtures including World Cup Cricket, T20, and major Indian Premier League tournaments
- National holidays & Gazetted holidays
- Summer Vacations (May – June)
- Winter Vacations (December – January)
3. Well Designed Studies are Essential: Ad-hoc research studies without well-designed processes can lead to disinterest amongst Indian candidates. Much more than many other countries, Indian respondents are likely to give abbreviated answers if they are not given specific guidance to expand on their thoughts. It is good practice to break up questions requiring more detailed insights to ensure you receive the level of feedback needed. Also, expert interviews, formally-recruited candidates and female respondents generally yield more nuanced feedback.
4. Internet Accessibility Can be an Issue in Some Regions: As reported in 2012, the total Internet users in India was 137,000,000 amongst a population of 1,205,073,612. This calculates out to an internet penetration of only 11.4%, according to the Internet & Mobile Association of India. However, this lower overall accessibility is not spread evenly. To ensure you get the most out of your research, target cities with the most access like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata (India’s first WiFi metro city).
5. Be Aware of Diversity and Gender Roles: While there is freedom of speech and expression, gender roles are fragile, especially amongst the rural or semi-urban societies. Gender and religious politics determine the tone and manner of studies. Additionally, questions around sexuality, gender roles, and religious ideologies are extremely sensitive topics in India and are mostly avoided in public forums like a discussion group. Sometimes the built-in anonymity of an individual online forum can help; however, I would suggest avoiding these topics, if at all possible, as they could have a negative impact on the results.
Because of the rich diversity and population in India, I believe it’s integral to understand the major cultural values and, more importantly, the specific nuances within each of the regions. Armed with this knowledge you can really pull out the required granular details, implications, and insights from your research in India. At GutCheck, we conduct research in 26 countries and 16 languages. We employ a staff of researchers that are based in each of these locations. These in-country experts are crucial for uncovering, understanding and negotiating the cultural differences that could impact the quality of your results. Even if it’s not with us, I strongly believe you should always leverage research partners with in-country resources. It’s crucial to have on-the-ground understanding and perspective you need for the most accurate insights.
We will be discussing the specific cultural nuances uncovered in several other highly targeted markets in the next edition of this multi-part series. Subscribe to our blog today to catch the next post!
Some of these tips seem simple, but if they are not followed, your research can be derailed. To learn more about international research best practices, sign up for our blog today where we have previously revealed best practices for research in China, Brazil, Japan and Russia!