Brand & marketing trends in India 2016 – 2017 : Part 1

brand trends 2016-17


The coming 2 – 3 years are going to be challenging and exciting for the marketing team across start-ups and companies in India. The general marketing trends in B2C companies have trickle down strategy for marketing in B2B focused start-ups. So the brand and marketing trends described here apply to B2C companies and there are a few trends applicable to B2B companies too.


The background to the brand and marketing trends amongst start-ups/ growth stage businesses in India:

  • Start-ups from 2013 – 15 have majorly focused on building a quality product, gaining customer traction, market validation and building their resources. The general push now is on sales, revenue, marketing to demonstrate scale.
  • Hence, the first wave of talent acquisition in the last 2 or 3 years were tech teams & UX/ UI designers. Start-ups focused on paying above market prices to UI/ UX designers, tech team, logistics, operational team. The shift for next two years atleast would be hiring the best of marketing talent. I have talked about the second wave of Indian start-up talent acquisition is marketing in my previous article.
  • The offline and online retail gap will be brought closer, “omni-channel” is the buzz word but very few start-ups/ companies have understood the real meaning and execution of omni-channel.
  • Digital marketing and content marketing agencies are mushrooming and it will continue to spring up more (much more than ad agencies, design or brand firms). The quality and relevance of these agencies is a matter of concern.
  • The Cost for Customer Acquisition (COCA) is already sky rocketing and marketing budgets will be a big constraint. Innovating in marketing approach is required.
  • As hyper-competition intensifies, product/ service based B2C companies need to be really good with their branding and marketing to survive the next big wave of growth.


You can find the marketing trend details for 2016 – 17 here.


Brand trends 2016 – 2017:

  1. Branded content will be the biggest asset for business & marketing

2015 witnessed a big boom in content marketing but importantly branded content in the start-up ecosystem. Branded content in terms of blogs, images, photo stories, videos, viral/ guerrilla content marketing emerged in 2015 and will peak further. With multiple and diverse audience in India, technology has helped branded content reach distribution and scale of engagement. 2016 onwards, branded content will go through consolidation, focused customer engagement and building brand assets at a critical mass to help content go viral. Marketing team will heavily bank on the brand team to create and curate content that is consistent, relevant and innovative in approach to engage its audience/ customers.


  1. In innovative companies, Brand will be culture driven

In traditional companies or start-ups with limited exposure/ vision, brand will be standardized to achieve basic hygiene standards of marketing. However, as many start-ups will fail or face tough period of customer acquisition and revenue growth, only innovative companies/ start-ups will be survive and thrive. These innovative companies will recognise not just the need of building brand assets, creative marketing and sales approach but also nurture the best of talent, foster creativity and build a brand culture that is consistent inwards and outwards.


  1. Quality v/s Scale: managing brand seamlessly a challenge

In 2016 – 17, startup companies will also witness management challenges of creating a seamless consistency across product, content, design, technology and marketing that reflects the brand. It will require teams to work collaboratively with each other, focus on its expertise and leverage strengths of others to maintain quality at scale as the business grows. This is the hardest part but will reap immense benefits to the businesses that manage their brand with highest quality standards at scale.


  1. Brands don’t need to just differentiate but be distinct to race ahead

Startup businesses need to recognise the emotional connect they need to build which only a quality brand can deliver. From 2016 onwards, we will see more competition within each sector and product categories in Indian market. More international brands will foray into the Indian market in coming years to capture the market share with an advantage of an established brand name. Indian startups will have to buckle up with innovative product and customer centric engagement/ experience. Technology is the means to it; a tool to leverage but a strong brand not just differentiates itself from its competitors but stand out on its own. A brand that is distinct and not just different for the customer in a hyper-competitive market, will capture the market and mindshare of customers for coming years.


  1. Brand strategy = Data driven & Brand management = Creativity driven

In coming years, data will drive customer engagement and target marketing, data will drive strategy. From 2016 onwards, brand strategy for short-term goals (quarter cycle) will be data driven. The data will serve insights for building new brand engagements, customer centric experiences and interactions. The data will also be geographic and demographic specific which will help translate briefs for branded content on regular basis. As the short-term brand activities will gain momentum, managing these brand assets will be critical. Hence, brand management will be creative and imaginative in its approach of how multiple brand assets can be created innovatively and maintain consistency across channels.


These trends are indicative for Indian market keeping in mind the global marketing trends which have a trickle-down effect on the Indian ecosystem. They are strongly applicable for B2C based companies and the trends have been arrived based on research, observation and intuition towards market factors. The data and research reference can’t be openly quoted as we have kept it for Collaborative Community’s internal resource and for consulting projects. For marketing trends, please click here.

Entrepreneurs & their teams should keep in mind is that it is not as important to understand these trends as interpreting and executing these trends which best suited to your business, target customers and market. It is a combination of creativity and strategy.

But as I have mentioned in previous articles, with robust market growth and hyper-competitive players, product alone can’t make the business profitable. Effective marketing and strong brand building will spur and sustain the growth that require Indian brands not just differentiate itself but be distinct !