The next wave of 300 mn vernacular Indian users coming online has been the talk of the town for a while now, and rightly so, given the massive implications it has on multiple industries such as content, commerce platforms or brands.
We have seen many startups emerge in the space, building products for these new internet users, though we believe we are just scratching the surface. After hearing all the stories of Bharat 2, we decided to re-acquaint ourselves with these new users and understand how their current lives intertwine with the internet, what excites them and what drives them.
We spent two weeks in the Northern and Western belt of India, talking to people from different walks of life – rich & poor, professionals, merchants, traders, home-makers and students. Needless to say, it made for an exciting journey, one that we think is a story best told in pictures rather than words!
Facebook now synonymous with time waste!
Lack of time is a big perceived constraint in people’s lives!
Cities like Jaipur are now comfortable shopping online but e-commerce still has mistrust in places like Ajmer!
Smartphone penetration amongst women lags behind men – they mostly rely on TV for entertainment
Feature phones still outsell smartphones in Ajmer, due to ease of operating, network connectivity & affordability
Vernacular remains the medium of comfort across people of different walks of life – evident from the newspapers people are reading & the YouTube videos they are watching – but English’s aspiration value is strong, especially in the younger generation.
3 apps are on all smartphone – Whatsapp, FB and Youtube. Youtube is synonymous with search, learning as well as entertainment
Fueled by convenience and discounts, internet and online transactions are an integral part of the lives of youth across all cities – whether it be tier 1, 2 or 3. They shop for themselves and on many occasions for larger family groups.
Market rhythms in different cities vary widely – from Surat to Jaipur to Ajmer.
Surat came across as far more tech savvy – having adopted social media tools like WhatAapp, Facebook, Instagram & social commerce tools like Shop101, Meesho, Glowroad, Wooplr; Jaipur merchants seemed content dealing with things already known to them – most operate completely offline when it comes to marketing, and there is not much use of social media platforms though smartphones and softwares like Tally have good penetration.
When we talk about Bharat and new users who are coming online, we are in fact talking of myriad communities. Bharat is not a monolith, but a combination of multiple segments of people – young tech savvy adults, women homemakers yet to graduate to smartphones, maids who have bought the latest phone because they can, stay at home mothers wanting to get the best for their kids and themselves, migrant population gaining urban exposure, workers, students, rural farmers and traders, SMB owners of different size, shapes and exposure, and many more waiting to come online.
It’s important to recognize that each group of people comes with its own set of challenges, aspirations, tastes and preferences. If you are a founder working towards solving these problems, would love to connect and discuss. Please feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.