How India will consume in 2030: 10 mega trends

indians 2019

Taj Mahal, Agra, India (Unsplash, 2019)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Nikhil Prasad Ojha, Partner and Head of Strategy Practice, Bain & Company, India & Zara Ingilizian, Head of Future of Consumption, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum


Over the next decade, consumption in fast-growth consumer markets such as China, India and Southeast Asia will be reshaped by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and more than one billion first-time consumers.

The Future of Consumption in Fast-Growth Consumer Markets, a project in collaboration with Bain & Company, focuses on the emerging markets that comprise more than 40% of the world’s population. After studying China in 2017, for 2018 it turned its attention to India.

India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. By 2030, it is on course to witness a 4x growth in consumer spend. It will remain one of the youngest nations on the planet and will be home to more than one billion internet users. The new Indian consumer will be richer and more willing to spend, and unlike her predecessors, she will have very specific preferences.

The following 10 mega trends for India in 2030 can help businesses and policy leaders envision the India of the future. The trends draw upon the research and consumer survey conducted by the World Economic Forum and Bain for the Insight Report on the “Future of Consumption in Fast-Growth Consumer Markets: India”.

1. The Indian middle class will truly come into its own

By 2030, India will move from being an economy led by the bottom of the pyramid, to one led by the middle class. Nearly 80% of households in 2030 will be middle-income, up from about 50% today. The middle class will drive 75% of consumer spending in 2030.

2. Upward income mobility will drive growth across all consumption categories

As 140 million households move into the middle class and another 20 million move into the high-income bracket, they will spend 2-2.5x more on essential categories (food, beverages, apparel, personal care, gadgets, transport and housing) and 3-4x more on services (healthcare, education, entertainment and household care). Upper-middle-income and high-income entrants will drive a 15-20% increase in the ownership of durables (washing machines, refrigerators, TVs and personal vehicles).

3. Half the incremental rupees will go into buying more, the rest nearly equally into buying better and buying new

Half the incremental consumer spend by 2030 will be simply to buy more of the products and services being consumed today. Affordable options will continue to be important. The remaining half will be split nearly equally on upgrading to premium offerings and including new variants in existing routines, such as adding organic food items and a new skincare regime, or adopting app-based ride-sharing. Premiumization and category addition will drive a significant share of incremental spend on eating (food and beverages at home, and dining out), looking good (personal care and apparel) and staying connected (cellphones, data packs and gadgets).

4. Aspirations are fast converging across urban and rural India, and better access will transform this intent into actual spend

The internet and smartphones have significantly bridged the information divide between consumers in urban and rural India. Beyond the top 40 cities, developed rural and small urban towns already have a very similar income profile. At a given income level, both these consumer groups desire a similar standard of living, aspire to a similar set of brands and are equally comfortable with technology-enabled consumption. Rural India’s strong desire to consume is presently constrained by poor access to roads, power, organized retail and financial services. Future efforts to improve physical and digital connectivity, and the use of innovative distribution channels, will enhance well-being and unlock the true consumption potential of rural India.

5. Millennial and Generation Z preferences will significantly shape the market

These consumers will be able and willing to spend more but will also be more discerning. In 2030, 77% of Indians will be born in the late 1980s and onwards. This generation of consumers will have had exposure to more product and service options than their predecessors. These youngest Indians already exhibit the greatest willingness to increase spending over the next 10 years, but they are also highly discerning about what they consider “best in class” offerings in every consumption category, from apparel to cars. Businesses will have richer, more willing buyers, but these buyers will be highly informed and make very specific choices for themselves and their families.

6. Digitally influenced consumption will become the norm

“Connectedness” will drive a significant difference in preferences, even at the same income level. As many as 50-70% of the most digitally connected consumers today, across income levels, already use digital platforms for product discovery and pre-purchase research. By 2030, more than 40% of all purchases will be highly digitally influenced, up from 20-22% today.

Income and age may have been the traditional drivers of preferences, but in the future, preferences will be significantly driven by a consumer’s degree of connectedness to digital media and online platforms. At the same income level, the more “connected” consumer (by internet and smartphone) will spend well, own durables, premiumize to better products (according to her income) and be very aware of the brands that best serve her needs. Her less connected counterpart is likely to spend frugally, own few durables and continue buying more of the same.

7. India’s eternal hunt for value will aid the growth of e-commerce, ‘value for money’ brands and category extensions

Indian consumers will be willing to adopt value-for-money brands that have “just right” features and prices. India’s new consumers have aspirations to consume more (and the necessary income to fulfil this desire), but they are dispersed across tens of thousands of urban and rural towns. Asset-light e-commerce models, supported by offline partnerships and demand-aggregators, will help brands test out and reach these new markets in a cost-efficient manner. Businesses will also have an opportunity to unlock spend on new category extensions.

For instance, dining out will become a significant area of food and beverage spend (up from more than 10% today), driven by the increasing use of app-based meal deliveries to replace home-cooked meals, especially by upper-middle-income and high-income working consumers. One in four of these consumers has already begun to increase their spend on entertainment to subscribe to digital video-streaming services. Affordable and innovative options can unlock massive incremental spend and establish new variants of consumption in many existing categories.

8. Technology-enabled new business models will leverage inherent comfort with ‘usership’ and the desire for increased convenience and well-being

As the original usership economy, India has lessons for the world. Indians have traditionally used public transport services over owned vehicles, and furnished homes using low-cost second-hand furniture rather than new purchases. Digital platforms for renting and sharing will speak to this usership mindset, as well as to the tech-savviness of future consumers. Subscription models, much like today’s Bombay Shaving Club, Amazon India Grocery Pantry and Fab Bag, will serve the value-conscious Indian keen to access new brands and products for a small recurring spend. Digital platforms for health and learning will fulfil the Indian consumer’s prime aspiration – the desire for greater well-being for themselves and their family.

9. Business, policy and civic society leaders will collectively drive an inclusive, healthy and sustainable future for India

India presents a host of exciting business opportunities in the next decade. At the same time, the next phase of India’s growth story offers stakeholders a chance to shape a path of responsible and equitable growth, from which other fast-growing markets can learn. Building on the momentum of collaborative efforts such as Skill India and Eat Right India, public-private-civic-society partnerships can help tackle the three key societal challenges facing India today: the need for skills and jobs for its working age majority; the greater inclusion of rural India; and the building of a healthy and sustainable future for its citizens and cities.

 

10. Firms will thrive by innovating for India and embracing a ‘founder’s mentality’

Companies will go a step beyond replicating Western models at low costs; they will localize and personalize business models and product/service offerings according to the unique preferences and constraints of their Indian consumer. In the past, companies that have sustained growth in India have been ones with an insurgent mission, frontline obsession and strong owner’s mindset. This “founder’s mentality” will be a critical capability for the future, for small and established businesses alike. Entrepreneurial and agile organizations will be best positioned to capture the full potential of consumption opportunities in the vibrant and diverse market that is India.

India in 2030 will be a playground for growth and innovation for consumer businesses – both Indian and global, established and emerging. The transformations in the Indian consumer’s income, propensity for consumption, awareness and tech-savviness will create massive opportunities. India in 2030 will also be a platform for stakeholders to shape a path of inclusive and responsible growth, for fast-growing markets across the world to follow.

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