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Advertising Strategies for Indian Customers

Chapter 1


I think one of the major roles of any company whether in a domestic market or international market the role of a marketer is to create an awareness of the product among the general public and attract general customers. However good the product is, without knowledge of the product and desires for the customer on the product it is impossible to create a brand or a successful product image. And the best thing that a company can do this is by launching an effective advertising campaign that kindles the emotions of customers in all positive sense.

Advertising is the simplest way of informing or drawing attention or telling a group of potential audience regarding the product or company. Advertising can take several forms and it’s the duty of the advertising department of that particular company to conduct the market research and decide what are the most important things that have to be concentrated while launching an advertising campaign.

Based on the research I conducted and analysis over several authors I was able to obtain what was the main goal of advertising and what are the various factors that influence in advertising. The main part of my research was to find how culture has an impact on advertising and what are the various strategies that can be used by multinational companies while entering a country like India.

As marketers how can we integrate various communication methods in order to produce an effective advertising campaign resulting in producing a successful product? The main purpose of this chapter is to give some details in research background. This chapter will also give information on research aim and objectives. And the main part of the research is how advertising strategies vary while entering India. In order to understand the environment of India a detail study was conducted and I have drawn the conclusion.


1.1 Research Background

India is a large country which has a large population around 1.14 billion currently and rapidly growing and for any multinational company entering India the market share they might target can be never enough. However the country has 28 states with 18 languages recognised. Though English is the medium of education through out the country the next most widely used language is Hindi which also the national language of the country. So for any company entering India as to decide which part of the country they are entering into and which market segment they are planning to advertise and what language is used there.

India can be divided into two parts the north and south. In north the language that is most popular are Hindi followed by Marathi and Bengali where as in the south Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam are spoken in different states so companies do not have only the need of creating an advertisement blending the cultural impacts but also catering the local needs of each and every particular region.

India has become potential emerging nation since China makes an entry to join the World Trade Organisation. Geographic advantage is only one part of the factors that speed up the growth of the Indian economy. India, however, also has other factors that attract the interest of foreign investment, such as FDI attractiveness, cheap materials, the education rate and low labour costs. When foreign companies enter Indian market, mass advertisement does pay significant part in making a good sale.

This is because advertising can persuade consumers to think about their own self-image, influencing them to follow the advertisement’s message. However, when entering a market like India, cultural factor is also important because customers in each culture have different tastes. As a result, marketers have to take into consideration standardisation and adaptation because local customers will have different advertising appeals. The company’s image also will have a great influence of the customer. Because the brand is contributed from the company’s image and based on the product and its brand appeal the advertising campaign can follow a standardised strategy or opt to choose an adapted strategy. But India has already mentioned is such a large country companies entering will have to work hard as they require to enter several countries in one country like India because of its diversity in languages, cultures and values.

1.2 Research Aim

This research aims to develop effective advertising strategies for foreign firms when entering India market.

1.3 Research Objectives

  • To understand factors that can influence Indian customers to remember advertisement
  • To know under consumer behaviour of Indian customers
  • To know the implications of adverting on consumer behaviour
  • To what extent advertising has importance
  • How cultural values are essential in advertising going international
  • To make qualitative analysis of advertising across cultures

1.4 Various media channels in India

According to my research 80% of the population above the age of 16 is exposed to some media or the other in India. Whether its students or kids or homemakers or proffesionals.There are various media channels in India and all of them are considered to be effective and the question comes how the company is going to distribute in various media and identifying which media would give the best result.

The various media channels in India are Television, Press, Radio, Cinema, Posters/Hoardings, and Internet. When it comes to Television the company has to decide who they are targeting are they homemakers or kids or working professional or students. When it comes to television certain channels that the company can never let chance are in television are news channels and sports channels.

When it comes to news channels there are several news channels how ever there are media networks which telecast in each regional state in their own language. The next is sports channels and India is country in which majority of the population watch television in order to watch cricket matches. Home makers in India are really interested in television and spend most of their time in watching serials and the various serial programs can be the target location for targeting home makers. When it comes to kids the kid’s channels is the best place.

In the later part we will discuss the various television categories in detail. Similarly in newspapers and radio they can be categorized.

However the whole campaign depends on the company to decide who they want to market their product and how they want to market it.

1.5 Role of Cultures in India

When it comes to culture India is one of the oldest and the most unique country. Country is so large and with varied cultures it is very difficult to understand them very quickly. As a result India varies amazingly throughout the country when culture is concern.

Different culture in different parts of the country north, south, north east all of them have their own distinct features. Every state has its own unique culture and with a country with 28 states it is not possible to cater the need of entire nation in respect to culture. India is the home of various ancient civilizations including four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. India is the home of various life styles, languages, cuisine and music.

For example when we consider cuisine it varies from culture to culture within the same country and every cuisine is different from each one. Similarly music and dance itself is completely different from north and south. In north it is bhangara, Hindustani. Where as in the south it is bharatanatayam, folk etc.India is a nation of festivals with so much cultural diversity festivals are celebrated with lights, fireworks, prayers and rituals.

So when any multinational entering has to study the culture of that particular region understand the culture and then try to impact the advertising. They have to analyze whether they product will be suitable for that culture without creating any issues.

1.8 Significance & Scope of Study

“The study undertaken fulfils the requirements of the research outlined in the dissertation objectives. The study attempts to highlight the theoretical concepts from the course work and correlates those concepts with the research conducted in order to comes up with an analysis on what are the advertising strategies for a multinational company while entering India and what are the cultural influences that must be concentrated in order to succeed Therefore a thorough research had been conducted with the help of questionnaire and secondary data.” My own work (2008)

1.9 Limitations of the Study

“ The major limitations of study is that advertising in a country like India has various effects on various targets and most of our respondents are students and the response we achieved are from a narrow group because with the time limit it is not possible to analysis the entire market because it is very broad. Most of the questionnaires where answered by age group ranging between 18-25 and they responses cannot be considered entirely because it is not possible to predict whether they answered what they meant. The data obtained was cross checked. But however the responses cannot be 100% accurate.” My own work (2008)

1.10 Structure of Dissertation

The dissarteation is divided into five chapters inorder to make a detail analysis of how multinational companies can advertise while entering India. It gives a inroduction on advertisement and on India what are factors that should be concentrated and a brief description of the media.The second chapter gives the litreature review by introducting what is advertisement ,what are the ethics,how culture and advertisement must be blended.How to define objectives and what are the various advertising styles.

The third chapter defines the research methods and how to determine various advertising strategies. Inorder to know this we have to understand consumer behaviour and needs. This chapter aims to represent research findings, which are described in descriptive fashion. The collected data are analysed on the basis of a comparative qualitative analysis, with related or similar studies. This is the final chapter of this research and it aims to provide recommendations and suggestion, explain limitations and produce proposal for further research.

Chapter 2 – Literature Review


This chapter aims to discuss and analyse related theories and concepts of advertising. It also reviews and discusses research findings of similar studies. It is claimed that advertisements can lead to buying decision making and several studies have also stated that many customers believe messages in the adverts to be truthful and unbiased (Dotson & Hyatt, 2005).

Today’s advertising requires a detail analysis of the target consumer and the advertisement must reach the customer in an effective way that it relates with him/her and stands out of other products. The main goal of advertisement according to my research is it is not to show that it’s better than others but how different it is which makes it stand out in the crowd. The product has to emotionally touch the customer in order to make the customer a real differentiation to cut through the rest and reach the target.

There are several challenge that advertising face today but according to a study by Kroeber-Riel (1990, cited in Appelbaum and Halliburton 1993) in Germany, as much as 90 per cent of the information provided to consumer is ignored. They argue that advertising will need to capture the consumer’s attention and deliver the message in an original way that will enable the consumer to remember and identify with both message and the brand.

According to Bullimore (1995) ‘without advertising, we would not have brands or innovation, consumer choice, value for money or our diverse media’. In order to understand the role of advertising we have classify advertising on for types, they involve in identifying our target audience for example when chocolate companies such as Kit Kat are advertising they must target mainly kids the next one is what is the purpose and next one is the media used whether it is television or radio or newspapers or magazines or cinema or any combination of them. And the last classification is based on the geographic area that it needs to address.

2.1 Definition of Advertising

According to Phillip Kotler (2003), advertising is the most popular marketing communication tools because it is widely used in all business sectors. Terry Flew (2002), defined advertising as:

“The way in which the mass media in all of their forms affect the way the audiences act and behave in their daily lives. The forms of media include television, films, songs and other similar forms.”

(Flew 2002, p. 12)

Under the concept developed by Kotler, key advertising instruments consists of both print and media adverts, such as print and broadcast adverts, audiovisual material, package-outer, brochures and booklets, billboards, display signs, symbols and logos, motion pictures, posters and leaflets, videotapes and reprint of adverts. However, in the recent years, a rapid development of technology has implications on the growth of media and advertising (Grips, 2002).

A research showed that new forms of media, such as DVD and the internet changes the way people consume media or advertised products and services. The fast development of media has raised a question on the issues of media influence affect on attitude and belief of customers. Inoculation model is one of the popular passive audience theories, explaining that upon being exposed to advertising’s messages, viewers become instantaneously immune to them.

The concept of inoculation model was used to examine the effect of advertising message on consumer behaviour by many researchers. One of the interesting studies was carried out by Karen Hartman (2000) who presented a snapshot of researched published between 1990 and 1999 and studied negative political advertising, mainly in the US. Hartman used showing themes, such as typologies, effects of negative advertisements, media coverage of political campaigns and the actual candidate behaviour, to categorise the literatures. Research finding indicated that a long term exposure to negative message can effect the perception and attitude of the viewers towards politicians and political parties.

2.2 Consumer’s attitudes towards advertisement

In my research I understand that consumers are more favourable than unfavourable towards advertising. They not only recognise the negative effects but also the positive economic impact f advertising industry. Advertising is a method in which companies can motivate a consumer in making a decision. Because the advertising if effective can create a connection and help the consumer to take a decision quickly and easily. According to Abernethy and Franke (1996) argue that the evidence on consumer attitudes toward advertising shows that consumer prefer advertising that helps indecision making.

Providing information that differentiates a brand from its competitors tends to increase commercial recall, comprehension and persuasion. They cite a 1995 study by Ducoffe that found information in advertising to be the single factor most strongly correlated with overall advertising value. Their review of audience perceptions of commercials revealed the informative/effective factor to be the best predictor of ad likeability and brand attitudes. Their summary is that advertising information is an important influence on consumer’s responses to both the ad and the brand.

The Advertising Standards Authority Report (Ford-Hutchinson and Roth well 2002) similarly identified a series of consumer attitudes towards advertising and confirmed many of the previous studies:

  • Advertising is everything with a name on it. As noted earlier, from the consumer perspective, the term ’advertising’ encompasses every piece of brand, product or service communication. It obviously includes the key media of advertising but also other aspects of ‘selling’ such as direct mail, door drops, the internet branded clothing, sponsorship, branded text messages and even telephone sales.
  • Life without advertising would be dull. Advertising is part of the environment. For some mainly older respondents, there is perhaps, too much advertising, but the majority embrace it as part of life. They indicate that without it there would be less information, entertainment and street colour, and less to talk about.
  • Advertising is an indicator of business health
  • Advertising has got better. It is felt to be cleverer, more reflective of real life, more entertaining and more tuned to different targets.
  • Consumers are concerned about ‘untruthful truthful advertising’, advertising that dose not lie, but is economical with the truth. It mainly concerns the advertising of financial products that highlights substantial benefits but is vague about risk or downsides. It is epitomised by advertising for accident claims companies consolidation of debts and loan offers.
  • Overall the regulatory bodies were felt by the public ‘to be doing good job’. However, in the area of untruthful, truthful advertising’ it was felt that ‘they’ should be more active, invasive and controlling in order to protect consumers.

2.3 Ethics of Advertising

In 1972 William Franken (cited Zinkhan 1994) defined ethics as a set of moral principles directed at enhancing societal well-being. He sub divided this into moral principles: beneficence-which concerns doing good; and justice-which is the practice of being fair.

Bush and Bush (1994) defined ethics as ‘just or right standards of behaviour between parties in a situation, based on individual moral philosophies’

Another major problem in advertising is to understand the ethics any thing that is said to be right or wrong must be accepted only if they are justified. Zinkhan (1994) acknowledges that when making these difficult moral choices there are many places to turn for guidance including personal conscience, company policy, industry standards, governmental law or regulation, and organised religion. Any advertising that is said to be not following the ethics are those that have significant harmful effects for section of people.

Robin and Reidenback (1998) take a much broader view of ethics in marketing communications and point out the degree to which the basic functions are seen to be ethical or unethical they suggest that advertising, in particular, must be measured within an understanding of our history the time in which they are applied their context, the expectations of society the requirements of capitalism and our best understanding of human behaviour

2.4 Advertising & Culture

Culture is the main factor influencing consumers to develop perception toward brands and products (Maxwell, 2001). A study investigated homogeneity versus heterogeneity of global consumption, emphasising on culture price/brand effect model of middle class consumers in the US and India. The main purpose of the study is to compare the consumers of developing countries to those in industrial nations as well as comparing culture differences of the two nations and see whether it affect the way customers perceive. Research finding indicated that consumers in India have a lower perception toward brand than that of consumers in the US.

It showed that Indian consumers need to be convinced of standardised quality. And the differences between Americans and Indians influence how price and brand affect their buying decision making. Indians appeared to be tougher consumers to whom to sell as compared to American buyers. This research finding signifies that cultural differences influence the way people think, implement and interpret. Thus, it can be assumed that marketers must take cultural factor seriously when entering Indian market because consumers in India need to be convinced of standardised quality.

In addition, when companies go across border, adaptation should be considered. Marketers can use the same strategies from home when they entering foreign markets, but this tactic may business goal Discussed in an article, focusing on positioning of products in foreign markets; it claimed that it is logical that consumers would react differently to different categories of product. Marketers must understand consumers’ perceptions of international, national and private brands because it enable them to know consumer needs and to position products better against the background ofdifferences in product quality, price, prestige, and the like. Therefore, to positioning the products and service in overseas market effectively, firms must understand different demands of consumers in different countries (Ghose & Lowengart, 2001).

2.5 Advertising Objectives

Advertising objectives are to be decided at the beginning of any advertising campaign. Objectives are measurable and defined clearly. The advertising must be designed in way that it can achieve its goal. For example it can developed in order to bring a product awarness,product launch,brand choice,image change or some other aspect of advertising communication.Objectives should be always precise and narrow and they must be developed in a limited set of targets. Creating wide objectives to be attained within a short span of time and limited but will make the advertising campaign loose its effectiveness.

According to Murphy and Cunningham 1993 ‘Advertiisng objectivees are simply statements describing what is to be accomplished by advertising to capitalise on opportunities and/or overcome problems facing the adveriser during the planning period’

Many investors think the amount spent on advertising would directly produce the sales which according to the research is not true. Because sales achievements are not only related to advertising because lack of performance in some other areas will also result in the goals not being achieved. But inorder to achieve the sales target advertising plays a important role but the argument is advertising alone cannot achieve sales targets.

According to Pincott 2001 there are many statements of advertising objective and,whilst the following list is not exhaustive ,it indicates the type of objectives that might be set for an advertising campaign.

Awareness and saliency:

Raise the profile of the brand by x per cent;

Build awarness of brand by x per cent;

Make consumers aware of brand’s promotion;

Drive saliency;

Raise awarness of the brand at launch;

Educate the consumer of the benefits of the brand;

Reinforce perceptions;

To maintain the brand positioning

Revive brand relevance and appeal;

Reflect the size and status of the brand;

Remind current and lapsed users that the brand;

Build on past brand strenghts and remedy perceptual weakness;

Enchance the special regard with which the brand is held;

Change perceptions;

Reposition the brand;

Encourage reassesment of the brand

To express the brand values in contemporary manner:

Change the basis of consumer evalations of the product caregory;

Change behaviour;

Encourage increased use of the product;

Gain trial;

Get kids to ask Mum for the brand;

Increase penetration of the brand amongst(a defined target group).

As mentioned above there can be various objectives but it is most appropriate for the company and the marketers to decide what they want achieve and within what time.For example a company launching a business mobile can clearly decide that its target audience are business people and decide their goals.The more appropriate the

Use of Market Research in India

Rit Cifton(1997) has defined internation advertising as an approach ‘seeking a common perspective across markets….but not in as ambitious a way as global advertising which seeks to standardise as much as possible’.Without market research it is impossible to forecast the future. The various reasons for market research is to determine the availability and relevance of media channels in India. What are the most effective influence of media in consumers mind.

What is the fastest way of reaching the consumers and what is the most effective. Marieke de Mooij(1991) argues that:’Advertising to be effective,must derive from and be part of a culture sharing the language and values of the target audiences.’It is possible to stand out this by developing global themes.

Advertisers have a main question of whether standardising or adapting their strategy and when they have answer this they have to analayse their product and determine how it can relate to their target audience.In India the advertising propositon must be targetted with a multi-lingual perspective from the outset.Good advertising avoids subtitles .Different regions require different costume for example a ad featuring in north india requires a number different features than that require in India for example it potrays a family in North India it has show different in style of wadrobe,house and how they talk to audiences down south.

When a advertisement has to be translated from one language to a nother it can be done quite easily and it requires a lot of space. The cuisine differs from region to region and state to state in India can vary. Advertising literacy is very important.

Mary Goodyear (1996) differentiates the components of advertising literacy in the following table:

Product attributes Product Benefits
Focus on products Focus on usage
Rational Emotional
Realistic Symbolic
Fact Metaphor
Makers’s language Brand language
Salesperson Consumer
Packshot Consumption
Left brain Right brain
Selling buying

Source:Goodyear 1996

Statements used in one country as humourous can be very critzing in another country. India Therefore proper analysis of culture ,languages and colours are very important. For example several colours have different meaning in India.The value of research in the international context as said by Bannister et al.1997

The value of research in the international context

Source:Bannister et al.1997


Position→Emotional or informative

Appeal→Romance,sex,social reward,etc

Tone →Humour,soft sell,narrative,etc

Advertsing concept→ Format→ cartoon,slice of life,music


Role of colors in India

India a land colors different colors mean different meanings through out the country. In peoples mind colors are associated with festivals,occasions,religions,happiness,lifestyles and beliefs. Being a vast country the same color can be associated with different meanings in different part of the same nation . What I have tried is to consolidate and come to general view of colors and how their associated with the mind of the people. Inorder to anlayse this certain color are accepted as total different meanings in different cultures.

When we consider the color red it indicates power,happiness and fearless.In most wedding the red is used for decoration because it indicates happiness and prosperity where as the same color red in southern part of India is accepted as a violent and very dangerous.In India once a girl gets married she is suppose to keep a red powder on her forehead indicating that she is married.The colour black is usually a color which the product could better stay away from because in India

Black is regarded as evil color. It represents negativity and darkness. Yellow is a color which is usually associated with herbs , yellow which is associated with turmeric which is used for ladies and kids which they apply on their faces to give them a brighter appearance and take all the dirt away it indicates cleaniness ,purity and sancity.Every religion as a color associated with them for Hindus the color that reperesents gods are usually red and blue. Because blue is represent by Lord Krishna and red is the symbol of Goddess Durga. Where as the majority of the people following Islam their sacred color is green.

White is a color in most part of the nation which indicates loss of happiness. It is usually allowed to wear in funerals. A widow wears a white dress to indicate that she has lost her loved one and she will stay from the happiness and joy here after.But some people also regard white as divine and purity.Contrary to the West where heritage and richness is showed by purple in India pink potrays royality.

Being such a large country a color need not have the same meaning in every part of the nation but the role of the

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