Archive for the 'internet marketing' Category

Next service to move online?

I have spent two entire days trying to call up the cooking gas agency services as I’m running about my day to day activities. On one of my tries a fresh thought crossed my mind and left me smiling. I imagined a situation where it was possible to order gas online and what fun that would have been!

Imagine the efficiency possible for the gas agencies and the freedom that it would give the customers. The rest of it in terms of payments etc can still be managed the same way it had always been so all they need to do is an online order placement system and that is one of the simplest forms to add on a website.

So, my wishlist – can the next service to move onto the online bandwagon be – cooking gas booking? Who else thinks it is worthwhile? Help spread the word by tweeting this.  🙂

Update: Apparently, they have launched an IVR service for Indane and that’s why I could not get across any “real” human being on the phone. What if they had put a recorded message on at least one of their phones, would have saved us a lot of heartache! Grrr, Hmph….

Post Script: We placed an order via the IVR system and the gas came within two days, viola!

Web2.0 and large corporations

I had a few interns in the office for a few months working with me. I worked on a small experiment and attempted to do a weekly “Out of Box Thinking” – OBT session for a couple of weeks. This was one of the first topics we chose to go over. It was an attempt to understand how large corporations (which are not necessarily in the web2.0 space) resist, adopt, react to and most importantly, leverage them effectively for marketing communications. So, what is it all about?

Getting over the “My Way” of…

…doing things. For many companies the implicit trust of users and going from creating and owning the products to collaborating and crowdsourcing projects is not an easy transition. For most, it is the dilemma of – is it real? is it here to stay? Some companies that have accepted this well is Asus with their WePC concept.

Acknowledging the power of…

…news spread through the viral power of word of mouth and long lasting effects of long tail. In the past, Intel experienced the power of it and more recently, major toy companies and China toy manufacturers had to bear the wrath as the “lead paint” slipped out through the blogs and reached the ear of the masses faster than people could start damage control through traditional media channels and I’m not even beginning to discuss the power of viral marketing and twitter on media, yet.

Harnessing the power of…

…focussed market research & keeping track of social network activities has dawned on companies. Though, not all have been able to make the transition from being passive listeners to active contributors or collaborators yet. When crisis strikes and you need to reach out to people who care through a new media channel (something they trust), it can’t be done in a moment like you would do for a TV commercial, it has to be built over a period of time.

What are the steps your organization is taking to adopt, accept and leverage the power of web2.0?

US Vs. India – Internet Usage Statistics

US has about 73% penetration which accounts for about 247 million internet users, which is about 3.5x India’s Internet users, accounting for less than 6% penetration of the population.

US has about 73 million broadband users, which is about 15x of India’s broadband users in 2008, which is less than 10% penetration of the internet population compared to the US broadband penetration of the internet users, which is 30% – (source).

Now, what the statistics above points out is – potential and opportunity (of course) but also the fact that dropping technology amidst a large population is not going to be a self fulfilling prophecy – not in India, not anywhere else in the developing world.

What the technology delivers should solve a genuine problem for the masses (like a mobile phone did for communication) for them to chose paying for a internet, broadband or value added service over a higher end commodity purchase/upgrade or a service for the household. A couple of such services could range from education (giving an edge to the next generation is definitely a big pull), to enhanced access to distribution channels/customers (reducing middle man for product/service sales), availability of critical information/services (live commodity prices/remote health care services). All of these have been happening on a small scale in various pockets of India and have helped drive home the impact of technology usage to the masses. What is required is for them to go large scale and start showing results in increased internet and broadband penetration.

Skeptics might ask, what is it about adopting technology? Why can’t I just stay the way I’m? Why should the masses adopt technology? I’m sorry, there is bad news. The world has moved on, the power is moving to the individuals and the medium happens to be the internet. Today, it is like asking why should I learn to read and write back in the 60’s or 70’s in India? You are letting go off the power that comes associated with being able to take control of your life, access information real time, access market and research information that would not be available to you except if you had devoured a well-stocked and updated world library and could mimic the search engine to spit out the results precisely when asked for it, not to mention all the organizing and sharing capabilities in social media.

Well, there is no either or here…it has to happen, the slowness of the speed of adoption is opportunity on the table.

Internet Market Pie in India- Part 2

I have few updates to the first part of this analysis I wrote about and I shall also cover some aspects of web surfing like – what do people like to do most on the internet? what are the various access points for Indians of various age groups of Internet? what can prevent/accelerate the adoption of internet in India?

Tweet-tweet – You have Updates!

The data I had in my last post was of Feb 2009, apparently Indians showed a spike of 74% and reaching 200K users in Mar 2009 (as reported by here) as opposed to smsgupshup which is a group sms and interaction platform and claims about 20M users and $150,000 in revenue/month with over 90% of the users from India (as reported here). The semiconductor market from where I come, we report yearly CAGRs, but I guess, the game is played slightly differently on the internet, especially the web2.0 adoption space…

Show Me The Job!

It appears that about over 70% Indians are out searching for jobs on the internet – that is a mind-boggling number! So, one might wonder is this somewhat related to a career choice related dissatisfaction? Is it related to the high attrition rates prevalent in the hi-tech and services sector in India and hence, the data is just skewed because that category constitutes a large % of the Indian netizens? Or is it related to the fact that there is a serious lack of transparency and being in-the-know of what is out there for the job scenario is one of the most important things for Indian net users? Whatever it is, there is definitely an opportunity for building better career based services that satiates this curiosity and tempers the dissatisfaction of landing up “somewhere” without a growth path.

I talk English, I walk English, but I don’t read Engilsh

Next in line is the patronage of vernacular-based websites – this was revealing data to me to know that about 42% of Indian netizens use a local language website. I guess, even if the numbers are up/down 10-15%, the very fact that people prefer to see internet as an extension of their reading habits from other mediums is a good insight to keep in mind for not only internet marketeers but also products and services being offered for reach and penetration in India. So, if I offer a dating site in 4/5 major languages in India, will it be a big hit in small pockets, adding up to a large satisfied customer base? Maybe, it is already out there – please point out if you know…

The travel economies
I think, the largest example for successful E-commerce in India has been around travel. With about 20% of Indian net users having purchased a ticket (rail/bus/train) online at some point and I can relate to this. The next, in line, would be books, in my opinion, but I don’t have any data on that. Again, the fact that stands out here is that Indians pay for tangible utility delivered which is greater than the sum of all expense + trouble they would go through to make a payment online. Getting access to a travel ticket without having to pay a huge commission to an agent or standing in a long queue early in the morning to get the tickets before they are sold out are all good examples of costs which are overturned by the book online phenomena, for which the Indian is willing to sacrifice the irking thought that my card might get misused!

So, what problem are you solving really, that is way more than the service that you are offering to the Internet user?

I think, we have covered a fair ground here on data and insights, I shall reserve the discussion around access points and adoption for a later post.

Comments/feedback are most welcome.

Internet Market Pie in India – Part 1

How large is the Internet Market in India, really? I took a stab at collecting the latest information and slicing and dicing it as best as I could, so here we go.

Internet in India

Overall market in 2008 was estimated to be 55M and active users (those who have used it at least once in a month) are estimated to be 48M. Of these, about 45M are in urban areas.

Now, that we have covered the current numbers, how about some demographics and growth rates?


Of the urban internet population about 67% come from non-top 8 metros. This was a good input to have – which means that the market is not highly concentrated and an internet marketeer looking for reach stands a good chance at it. Also, only 37% of the urban internet population is Sec A – which is again good news for reach and penetration.

With respect to age and gender: 44% of the users were males, 27% were college going students, 12% school students and the rest were females.

Broadband users not broadbased yet?

Broadband penetration in India is very low around 4.5M compared to 386M handsets. This is the most common comparison I always hear. I would say a more reasonable comparison would be broadband penetration vs. say, smartphone users or internet enabled mobile phones in India, both of which help deliver multimedia rich features to the end user and hence, increase streams of revenues for telecom service providers as well as the internet marketeers.

Growth projections

I have come across everything from a conservative 13% to a high of 40%. I prefer to go with the lower number, because if the numbers are on the higher side, I end up with better reach and bandwidth issues, which is a better situation to be in than no reach and wasted resources…based on the above growth rates, we can estimate the market to be overall at about 80M users in 2012.

In 2012, the market is predicted to be 80% urban vs.20% rural as against the current 94% urban and top 8 metros will have 30% market share vs. the current 37% market share.

How about Twitter you may ask….

Let us take a stab at the twitter market in India…the overall market is at 0.12Mn and 15-24 year olds lead the pack with 40% market share, followed closely by 24-35 year olds with 36% market share, the rest of it is lapped up by the 35+ segment. Also, men seem to be tweeting 4x more than women in India.

Sources of data: Comscore, Feb 2009, IAMAI India Internet Report 2008,

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