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Be Your Own Heroine in India

February 2014

By Reshma Bachwani, Bangalore

India is at the cusp of transformation in more ways than one. Gender dynamics built upon tradition are widely understood as changing. Not only have women become more assertive, but female power is respected—at least in urban hubs. Tanishq, a traditional jewelry brand, was the talking point in social media with this recent ad depicting a woman at her second marriage, with her groom (including her daughter) in the wedding rituals – a bold statement for a brand in a traditional category. Stayfree, the sanitary napkin brand, urges women to "be the change" in a metaphorical sense. And Bournvita shows a progressive mother taking complete charge – encouraging her daughter to excel at male sports.

If self-assertion is woman-specific trend, spirituality is gender-neutral. On one hand, the younger generation has an insatiable appetite for achievement. They keep themselves balanced by taking to spirituality in a big way. Only in its current avatar do we see Indian spirituality with a lifestyle sheen, rather than a dogmatic garb. Brands have adopted the dimension of spirituality that focuses on simplifying and purifying. For hospitality brands, where the brand value needs to manifest in the space and experience, this value is easier to adopt. Though this space remains largely unexplored by product brands, Vedica Natural Mineral Water has managed to give spirituality a tangible positioning, by emphasizing the purity of their product. The brand’s very name, a word play on the sacred texts of Hinduism, is a clear nod to the emerging psychographic appeal too.

The younger generation, who believes in eulogizing themselves, holds to the notion that “each man is his own hero.” The social distance between celebrities and people is shrinking in India. On one hand, reality TV has made stars out of people, but on the other celebrity presence in social media has made them more accessible and ordinary. The Dove international campaign for “real beauty” tapped into this early on. There is also a growing trend to produce weddings on a Bollywood scale in India today.

While self-assertion as a value has been used by many women centric brands already, it would be interesting to see how mainstream brands adapt the other two emerging values as to how they connect with consumers.

Health & Fitness
Design & Luxury
Food & Drink
Hospitality brands use spiritualism to market to young Indians
Tradition is reshaped as young Indians strive for individuality

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