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India Is Unlocking Digital For Growth, Says Google Report

India Is Unlocking Digital For Growth, Says Google Report

50% of organised retail will be influenced by digital in 2020

Consumers are now increasingly adopting cashless payments

There is a 30% growth in SaaS categories

India has 350 Mn connected smartphone users and 400 Mn active internet users, which is the world’s second highest, said Google in its recently released report titled, “Year in Search: Insights for Brands Report”.

“On an average India adds 40 Mn internet users on a Y-o-Y basis, which is among the fastest in the world. An Indian subscriber now has an average 8GB per month mobile data usage which has reached levels of developed markets,” the report added.

This growth has unlocked several opportunities for consumers as well as brands in India. With digital making its way into the daily lives of the people, the consumer is becoming more informed and brands are able to reach the potential consumers in an organic manner.

Interestingly, the gap between the online and offline markets is now smaller than ever. With the rise of omnichannel retail, consumers are making the most of their online and offline experiences. It is expected that 50% of organised retail will be influenced by digital in 2020, the Google report said.

Key Segments In India Rising With Digital

Automotive Industry

Consumers are now relying more on online research, immersive experiences, and online bookings than test drives and showroom walkins. 90% of car buyers research online before setting foot into a dealership and once they’re at the dealership, 65% of car buyers will continue to do research on their smartphones.

Also, digital is driving incremental qualified leads at the most efficient cost per lead (CPL) for large OEMs across Auto. For instance, it helped Renault garner 23% more qualified leads and reduced cost per lead by 19%.


A majority of BFSI-related (Banking, financial services and insurance) searches are on mobile.

Consumer Packaged Goods

There has been observed a 40% growth in searches related to beauty in 2018. Consumers are increasingly researching product ingredients to develop DIY solutions for personal care. Also, Indian consumers are searching for categories like Keto Diet, home care, oral care among others.


Fashion is still the most searched category. Accessories is the fastest growing category in fashion with over 150% increase in searches last year.

Local Ads And Classifieds

There has been a 100% growth in queries for coworking spaces in real estate searches. Also, dating searches are catching up with matrimony queries. There is a 40% growth in dating-related searches, which are growing much faster than matrimony queries and 37% increase in online dating brand queries versus 13% increase in interest for matrimony brands.

Telecom And Payments

Increase in 4G connectivity and access to mobile phones is driving the jump in content consumption. There is a 24% rise in speed test-related searches on mobile, which indicates that consumers want high network quality and are personally verifying claims by telcos.

Also, consumers are now increasingly adopting cashless payments. There is a 11X surge in UPI transactions between January and November 2018 as compared to the same period during the previous year. There is 10X increase in the total volume of UPI payments, surpassing mWallet transactions in the first nine months of 2018. Recently, UPI clocked in 674.19 Mn transactions in February 2019.


There is a 30% growth in SaaS categories, with mobile playing a bigger role in influencing B2B decision making.

The highest spike in consumer interest is for live chat, recruiting, and accounting.

Digital In India: Future Ahead

From  10% in 2011, the internet penetration in India reached 26% in 2015, according to research firm Statista. With over 460 Mn internet users, India is the second largest online market, ranked only behind China and by 2021, there will be about 635.8 Mn internet users in India.

However, despite the large base of existing internet users, internet penetration is set to grow manifold in the country. It is expected that with the government’s continuous push towards the Digital India programme, and initiatives like Google wi-fi at 400 railway stations, Vodafone’s SuperWi-fi among others, the state of digital adoption is bound to improve.