As I sit high above Mumbai streets, comfortably ensconced in air conditioning and strong-enough Internet connectivity, I wonder about the incongruity of India’s 1.2 billion-plus population to the 121 million connected to the Internet to the 88 million connected to the Internet via mobile devices.
One ride through town with its mix of seemingly chaotic traffic and rough street-level living contrasted to the tree-lined streets and high-rise enclaves elsewhere only makes a quick understanding harder. I am grateful for people like Karthik Srinivasan who heads up the Social@Ogilvy team in the region and Ashwath Ganesan who heads it up in Mumbai and have a deeper view of their own culture.
By 2015, India will be the largest Facebook “nation” on the planet. Facebook usage has growth 47% from 2012 to 2012. LinkedIn has grown 36% over the same period.
Overall growth in connectivity has jumped 41% from July 2011 to July 2012 according to Comscore. That’s compared to China at 5% or Brazil, another big growth market at 6%.
That 88 million mobile-connected is expected to jump to 165 million by 2015.
Social media users seem to be younger with 75% under 35. But that is not an uncommon early trend.
A Country is Not Just Numbers
But these are all numbers. The real questions are whether the use of social media will continue to rise and spread and affect purchase behaviors as it has in so many other markets; how quickly will reliable Internet connectivity to the home spread or, more importantly, how web-enabled phone usage will continue to grow; and whether ecommerce will continue to grow.
I am guessing that the answer is yes to all with a simple caveat of 'how fast.'
I also suspect that the 1%-5% that India’s marketers reportedly spend on social media marketing today remains far below consumer behavior especially when you consider the fast-growth trajectory. I look forward to learning more this week. Especially if it means getting out of the air conditioned tower I sit in now.