It is no secret that India is positioned to become a global economic leader within the next ten years. Whilst the IMF recently reduced its estimate of the country’s growth from 6.5%, with 5% looking more realistic for this financial year, India’s economy stacks up well compared to European nations. It is estimated that by 2030 India will have overtaken China in terms of population, with a figure of 1.52 billion people (a rise of 24% over 20 years) on the subcontinent expected.
As one would expect for a nation growing in wealth and size, more and more Indians are becoming exposed to social media. Increasingly affordable hardware, particularly in a new age of mobile computing, has served as yet another expedient factor in the rise of social media in India. Finally, as the country improves its taxation methods, building of essential infrastructure will become more and more a priority. Faster, more widely available Internet on both traditional ADSL and fibre optic networks as well as the exponentially faster 3G and 4G networks – which now can easily rival wired connections in terms of speed – both contribute to Indians’ access to social media.
Worldwide, the number of users engaging with social media networks is set to increase from 1.73 billion in 2013 to 2.55 billion by 2017. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of Indian users of social media increased from 54.8 million to an impressive 127.5 million, an increase of 132%. It is certainly unlikely that an increase on this scale in such a short time will happen again, but the country will hit 282.9 million users by 2017. Despite this growth, today, less than 10% of Indians are social media users, whereas nearly one in four people worldwide will use social media by 2014 . Even by 2017, only 21.1% of Indians will be social media users.
Clearly, social media is still not expected to have reached its full potential on the subcontinent in the next four years, despite the remarkable increases expected in population and social media users. India will be a lucrative market for companies leveraging social media (and which company today does not?) as the country’s influence on the global market becomes more and more pronounced. The increasing number of affluent Indians (inequality of wealth is set to rise significantly along with overall GDP per capita by 2020) and the increasingly urbanised nature of the country will mean that a huge market will open up in South Asia, spurred on by the rise of social media.
It is difficult to speculate on the role of social media in India by 2030, but one can imagine that the country will eventually come closer to the global average of social media users. As this process takes place, companies will be taking advantage of the advent of such a lucrative market across almost all sectors.