‘Digital India’ will continue to spur the growth of hyper-connectivity with the plethora of opportunities it brings to the table: Nikhil Mathur, Managing Director-South Asia, GfK


GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices. In an interaction with Mobility India, Nikhil Mathur, Managing Director-South Asia, GfK talked about all the emerging trends of hyper-connectivity in India.

What is the Hyper-connected Consumer study all about?

The ‘Hyper-connected Consumer study’ has uncovered an emerging category of connected consumer who is embracing and actively opting for digital modes of lifestyle. The study examines how this tech-savvy group engages digital channels on a daily basis and what businesses should do to cater to the needs and wants of this unique segment of the Indian population.

The study was conducted in India between June and August 2017 amongst more than 2500 smartphone owners, and a subset sample of 750 was tracked on its Android smartphones for six weeks to generate behavioral insights. The survey covered nine urban cities of India with the objective of gaining a deeper understanding of hyper-connected consumers’ media habits in the digital space.

Who are Hyper-connected Consumers?

The term ‘Hyper-connectivity’ is characterized by the widespread or habitual use of devices that have Internet connectivity. The hyper-connected consumer is defined as someone who owns a smartphone, at least one other connected device, accesses the internet daily with, and spends more than four hours daily on the smartphone. There are around 43 million hyper-connected consumers in India, with major cities like Delhi and Mumbai reporting the highest concentration of consumers belonging in this segment. The hyper-connected consumers have the most intense usage on their smartphone during the traditional media opportunity window.

What are the key findings of this survey?

The Hyper-connected Consumer study has revealed the emerging trends of hyper-connectivity in India. The valuable insights drawn from the study can help brands targeting the Indian market to rethink their strategy, such that they can seamlessly integrate their offline and online offerings in the consumer purchase journey in order to be ready for them when and where they are wanted the most.

According to the Hyper-connected Consumer study in India, this group of consumers spend almost six hours daily online, which is double the amount of time compared to the average consumer. 9pm to 12 midnight is the prime time for them. Moreover, hyper-connected consumers spend more than half (61%) of their total time using smartphone for communication and social networking. WhatsApp and Facebook together account for 54 percent of the time spent on the smartphones. Compared to the average consumer, hyper-connected consumers access Instagram thrice as much, use taxi apps more often (1.3 times) and downloaded six more apps to total 16 new apps in the last month.

Furthermore, the study has revealed that the frequency of engaging with brands online is also higher for this group of consumers. Four in five (80%) like or follow a brand on Facebook while two-third (65%) forward brand content to others, showcasing that they have some level of engagement with at least one brand on social media. In particular, hyper-connected consumers tend to search for coupons/vouchers from a particular brand nearly twice as much as the average consumer. This group of consumers have 20% more purchasing power than the average connected consumer.

At GfK, we believe that ‘Digital India’ will continue to spur the growth of hyper-connectivity with the plethora of opportunities it brings to the table. It is even more imperative for companies to have an in-depth understanding of how to deal with today’s hyper-connected consumer and make the best use of it, as they are the trendsetters.

How India is engaging in digital age, changing behaviors?

The lifestyles of people are enormously changing due to digitization and businesses are taking care of customers in a special and unique manner. India is dealing with a new-age world of hyper-connected consumers who are digitally connected to almost everything in their daily chores.

Digital India, a brilliant project is a testimony to the fact that India is embracing this massive technological paradigm shift going full throttle towards a digitally enhanced future. Be it retail, banking, education, food, travel or manufacturing, the Digital India initiative proves that we are moving in the right direction! The Indian consumer, who earlier was simply connected (a device meant searching the internet and a mechanism to call others) has become hyper-connected and this remarkable initiative by the government is catering tremendously to the growth levels of hyper-consumerism.

Another aspect to this massive surge in the digital world is the social messaging behaviour of the hyper-connected consumer, which is creating great stories on the social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The “desktop-first” era is a bygone era; all we can see now is the smartphone, which has become a key platform and is driving the latest trends in innovation. Thus, it clearly reflects that smartphones are going to be greatest driver of the Digital India initiative, whose escalating penetration will only grow in the future. Hence transforming India into one of the largest smartphone economies in the world.


What are the best practices you suggest for brands in this digital age?

The outburst of smartphones, social media platforms and high speed internet are the major drivers behind the dramatic change caused in the consumers’ expectations when it comes to brand engagement, where:

  • Companies are realising the increasing importance to engage consumers and potential customers through various channels available. Sometimes companies need to meet consumers personally and get to know their demands and personal choices. With consumers displaying love towards visual content, it is significant to offer them something extraordinary which they can share on digital platforms
  • There is a dire need to fuel platforms with video content. Digital technologies provide consumers a new lens on brands and new ways to engage every day. There’s the opportunity for brand relationships to evolve because of technology
  • With everything turning digital, companies need to personalize the customer’s experience and with a personal touch, yet, their privacy should not be harmed at all
  • Transparency is another major aspect companies must consider; by making everything visible to the customers, the company can escalate their level of reliability and create a trusted brand
  • Brands need to continually strive to understand their customer engagement and relationships, and how it will evolve with digital technologies so they can innovate and provide better value for their customers and more growth through margin for themselves
  • In nutshell, consumer experience that is customized and seamless is key to winning in digital India and brands need to work hard to ensure end to end journey of brand evolution is delivering to this need to win in India


Future trends in this segment.

Some of the key future trends in the hyper-connected segment listed below:

  • The rural consumer has also become smarter and so have the channel partners or brands. Hyperconnected consumer in rural markets is ready to experience innovative retail concepts like mobile payment
  • Today’s consumer wants more than just good value and it is essential for brands to continuously strengthen their relationship with their customers. The best way to deal with the digitally connected consumers is to deliver them digital solutions by utilising digital tools; social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other are already doing wonders in our lives. The simpler and innovative a brand becomes, the better and smoother it is for them to win over customers
  • Brands would need to continually strive to understand their customer engagement and relationships, and how it will evolve with digital technologies so they can innovate and provide better value for their customers and more growth through margin for themselves
  • This year was predicted to see more than 350 million mobile internet users; a clear example of Digital India galvanizing a movement in the nation and mobile is key enabler to this digital disruption.
  • About 20-25% of internet users in India are from rural areas. They access internet through mobile phones rather than using desktops or laptops, thereby demonstrating the significance smartphone usage.