For this next wave of digital consumers, the use-cases will need to be related to education, healthcare, jobs and financial services.(Hindustan Times)
For this next wave of digital consumers, the use-cases will need to be related to education, healthcare, jobs and financial services.(Hindustan Times)

The new digital consumer will be rural

If the Union government wants to exploit the full potential of Digital India, it must help to democratise the digital landscape
By Shweta Bajpai and Sandeep Dalmia
UPDATED ON MAR 26, 2016 12:32 AM IST

What comes to your mind when you think of the digital consumer — a 25-year-old, educated, urban professional? That may be true now, but fast-forward to 2020, and the next 350-400 million consumers would include older age groups (those over 25 will be 65% in 2020 vs. 46% in 2015), Tier 4/rural consumers (increase of 40% over 2015 base by 2020) and women (1.5 men for every woman online in 2020 vs. 2.5 in 2015).

It’s unlikely that today’s digital offerings will work for this next wave of consumers. Consumer preferences as well as underlying infrastructure are different for this base and hence to win them, digital players will need to democratise their offerings.

Half of the internet population in India is rural — interestingly, around 60% of these consumers do not have a smartphone and only 10% have a PC. Rural locations primarily have 2G access with download ranging from 144 to 256 Kbps. Even if the highest speed of 256 Kbps were available, it would take nearly six minutes to buffer a three-minute movie trailer on YouTube of average video quality — a waiting time much longer than the content duration itself.

Read | As Modi launches Digital India Week, lots of praises, some advice

The next wave of digital consumers will also become more vernacular, with more than half seeking vernacular content). YouTube and Google maps will struggle with slow internet infrastructure; social platforms like Facebook and Twitter will not naturally gain traction from vernacular users.

Digital adoption is fuelled by targeted applications. A good example is weather monitoring applications that have a significant uptake in the United States but have not seen much traction in India, given lower variation of temperatures on a day-to-day basis.

On the other hand, file sharing applications are popular in India. For this next wave of digital consumers, the use-cases will need to be related to education, healthcare, jobs and financial services.

Read | Decoding the nitty-gritty of Digital India initiative

In India, digital can help unlock the three-fold challenge in the rural market — reach, affordability and efficacy. Gramvaani reports that in rural India, where the number of primary health care centers is limited, 8% of the centres do not have doctors or medical staff, 39% do not have lab technicians and 18% PHCs do not even have a pharmacist. Around 16% of all villages do not have primary schooling facilities and 17% have just one teacher. Most Indian startups in healthcare, education, jobs and financial services space are in a nascent stage and are primarily focused on the urban consumer.

Examples of focused offerings for rural India are few and far between. The challenge for start-ups has been in creating scale and monetisation. Scale would require working closely with the government given its significant reach.

The government would need to support this digital transformation journey by playing an institutional role in strengthening infrastructure, providing financial support and fuelling offline-online interaction. Then and only then, can we democratise the digital landscape and truly exploit the full potential of ‘Digital India’.

Shweta Bajpai is principal and Sandeep Dalmia is project leader at The Boston Consulting Group

The views expressed are personal

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
How do we address this cyclical pattern of hailing and rubbishing financiers? It is time for an honest review of the entire issue (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
How do we address this cyclical pattern of hailing and rubbishing financiers? It is time for an honest review of the entire issue (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The policy landscape around digital and physical micro-lending

By Amol Agrawal
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:08 AM IST
In 1870s, a similar backlash emerged in Poona and Ahmednagar districts of the Bombay presidency. The agriculture boom in the early 1860s led farmers to take loans from moneylenders
Close
A tiny tax on stock market transactions can help fund India’s vaccination drive without burning a hole in the wallets of stock market investors and give the government headroom for other expenditure to help save lives (AFP)
A tiny tax on stock market transactions can help fund India’s vaccination drive without burning a hole in the wallets of stock market investors and give the government headroom for other expenditure to help save lives (AFP)

Vaccinating all Indians, for free

By Praveen Chakravarty
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:08 AM IST
The markets are at an all-time high. Impose a Covid-19 surcharge on transactions and use it for vaccination
Close
Why is it that, despite the government displaying its willingness to take a step back, the matter was not resolved? (PTI)
Why is it that, despite the government displaying its willingness to take a step back, the matter was not resolved? (PTI)

Farm protests: The costs of a prolonged standoff

By Shashi Shekhar
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:08 AM IST
The government has extended an olive branch. The farmers must respect this and reciprocate. The tone set on Saturday should pave the way for a permanent solution.
Close
Pushing against the climate crisis — in spite of the terrible fire and hurricane damage — was his way of putting the economy before all else. This is what Biden-Harris will have to overcome with smart policies and even smarter communication. (AFP)
Pushing against the climate crisis — in spite of the terrible fire and hurricane damage — was his way of putting the economy before all else. This is what Biden-Harris will have to overcome with smart policies and even smarter communication. (AFP)

On climate, what the US needs to do

By Sunita Narain
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:25 AM IST
Joe Biden has done well to rejoin the Paris accord. But his administration will have to overcome Trumpism, take responsibility for historic emissions, and change energy consumption patterns at home
Close
The JPC, hence, has a daunting task ahead, balancing the needs of State security against individual privacy. Giving entry to security agencies will compromise the encryption grid and data of millions. The State has to collaborate with tech giants in using the meta-data more meaningfully and for meeting other requirements without breaking the encryption. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The JPC, hence, has a daunting task ahead, balancing the needs of State security against individual privacy. Giving entry to security agencies will compromise the encryption grid and data of millions. The State has to collaborate with tech giants in using the meta-data more meaningfully and for meeting other requirements without breaking the encryption. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Data bill: The security vs privacy debate

By Yashovardhan Azad
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:26 AM IST
The Data Protection Bill also does not touch upon State surveillance methods. Who watches over the watchers? How can an officer of the same rank give permission to another for snooping? And how can another in the same system oversee its justification?
Close
The massive sacrifice of hundreds of Secret Service officers of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army remains a secret and an enigma. On the 125th anniversary of Netaji’s birth, I appeal to the nation to document and recognise these sacrifices (HT PHOTO)
The massive sacrifice of hundreds of Secret Service officers of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army remains a secret and an enigma. On the 125th anniversary of Netaji’s birth, I appeal to the nation to document and recognise these sacrifices (HT PHOTO)

The secrets of Netaji’s secret service

By Amit Mitra
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:49 PM IST
The Indian National Army’s Secret Service men remain unrecognised, despite their sacrifices during the freedom struggle. We must revere them
Close
Prime Minister Imran Khan has contended that Pakistan's economy has made a remarkable turnaround.(Facebook/ImranKhanOfficial)
Prime Minister Imran Khan has contended that Pakistan's economy has made a remarkable turnaround.(Facebook/ImranKhanOfficial)

Imran Khan jumped the gun. This time, over Pakistan’s economic turnaround

UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 03:51 PM IST
  • Pakistan's GDP growth had slowed down much before the coronavirus outbreak, growing by 1.9% in 2019 as compared to a decade-high of 5.8% the previous year when Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf came to power.
Close
While social media has the ability to democratise politics, it can also silence voices. This is troubling (AFP)
While social media has the ability to democratise politics, it can also silence voices. This is troubling (AFP)

The democratic dilemma posed by social media

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:20 AM IST
The banning of Trump and others from Twitter and Facebook, and the shutdown of Parler made clear that the power to silence voices, whether of the one or of millions, lies with just three men on the planet – Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. No wonder defending democracy will be a huge and unenviable task for President Biden’s team.
Close
The Supreme Court, in 2019, acknowledged that internet access is integral to the right to freedom of speech and expression while adding that any restriction on internet access must pass the test of proportionality, and suggested the evolution of a rules-based mechanism to govern the internet. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Supreme Court, in 2019, acknowledged that internet access is integral to the right to freedom of speech and expression while adding that any restriction on internet access must pass the test of proportionality, and suggested the evolution of a rules-based mechanism to govern the internet. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Putting the consumer at the centre of Digital India

By Lloyd Mathias
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:21 AM IST
One way to empower consumers is by creating mechanisms to ensure inter-operability, by making it easier to switch services from one platform to another. In telecom, interoperability is implemented. However, in the internet space, and more prominently in the app space, consumers do not have this choice.
Close
Project finance economies have different imperatives from working capital economies. They need investment to fill the gaps in their infrastructure and lack the resources to do so (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
Project finance economies have different imperatives from working capital economies. They need investment to fill the gaps in their infrastructure and lack the resources to do so (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)

The working of a ‘project finance economy’

By Janmejaya Sinha
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:19 AM IST
It is time to question neo-classical economic precepts on deficit and inflation for an economy of India’s nature
Close
Their success highlights the depth and strength of talent in the country (PTI)
Their success highlights the depth and strength of talent in the country (PTI)

Courage, calibre, character: India’s greatest series win

By Ayaz Memon
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 08:07 PM IST
The experienced pros and newcomers combined to prove a point to themselves, the opponents and the world. And created history
Close
The Centre ensured the supply of drugs with equitable and integrated access (REUTERS)
The Centre ensured the supply of drugs with equitable and integrated access (REUTERS)

Managing drug security effectively in times of a pandemic

By Sudhansh Pant
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 09:19 PM IST
The Centre’s strategy to ensure sufficient access, monitor stocks and distribution, issue approvals, maintain seamless supply chain of drugs, effectively communicate with stakeholders, and evolve a dynamic Clinical Management Protocol (CMP) has contributed significantly to India’s Covid-19 management success
Close
A new report by Chatham House describes India as UK’s ‘rival’ or ‘at best, an awkward counterpart’ on par with Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. It also weighs in against the idea of expanding G7 to include India (Getty Images)
A new report by Chatham House describes India as UK’s ‘rival’ or ‘at best, an awkward counterpart’ on par with Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. It also weighs in against the idea of expanding G7 to include India (Getty Images)

Is ‘Global Britain’ inimical to India?

By Syed Akbaruddin
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 09:10 PM IST
There are disturbing signals from both segments of British polity and civil society. India will need to assess the UK’s position carefully
Close
Pakistan's opposition parties had united last year under the aegis of Pakistan Democratic Movement to launch coordinated attacks on Prime Minister Imran Khan(AFP)
Pakistan's opposition parties had united last year under the aegis of Pakistan Democratic Movement to launch coordinated attacks on Prime Minister Imran Khan(AFP)

Imran Khan gets squeezed between shrinking economy and proactive opposition

UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 05:48 PM IST
  • Differences between China and Pakistan over funding of CPEC's biggest railway project spotlights the growing pressures on PM Imran Khan on the economy front
Close
There is evidence to indicate that the PLA's work and engineering force deployed to upgrade infrastructure in occupied Aksai Chin moved back after completion of work last month
There is evidence to indicate that the PLA's work and engineering force deployed to upgrade infrastructure in occupied Aksai Chin moved back after completion of work last month

India should be wary of Chinese mind games

UPDATED ON JAN 13, 2021 12:31 PM IST
  • Withdrawal from the vast Tibetan and Xinjiang military region means little in an era of stand-off weapons and long-range missiles. The Chinese PLA has capacity to deploy troop divisions within a week with metalled roads and optical fibre cables up to the last military post and advanced landing grounds (ALGs) all along the LAC.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP