Updated: Apr 29, 2021
India has a population of 1.3 billion. Many organizations want to put a stronghold in the Indian market due to its very big market, so many global companies taking efforts to extend their research team in India. I can say there is a big hunt for Senior Indian UX researchers by global companies to lead their research activities in India.
There some things you should know about India to Conduct User Research there.
43% of India doesn't speak Hindi
Many think all Indians can speak Hindi but actually, there are many other major dominant languages like Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Tamil, etc. In fact, there are 17 major widely spoken languages in India.
To have a better idea, In India
68 million speak Tamil,
80 million speak Telugu,
35 million speak Malayalam,
90 million speak Bengali.
By seeing these numbers you will understand that, Even though Hindi speaking community is a large market in India, you can't ignore the other major markets here.
Diverse culture across states
Due to India's diverse geography, diverse languages and vast invasion history, one can observe a diverse culture across India like cuisine, traditions, race etc. But Interestingly not only due to its geography and languages also due to the political movements one can observe the diverse pop culture.
I can share an example here of diversity due to political movement, It is normal to ask & say one's name with their second name (community name) in north India like "Prashanth Yadav" & "Vishwesha Iyer" (Yadav & Iyer are community names). But this same thing is not entertained in Tamilnadu (South Indian State). Most of the People from Tamilnadu get offended by asking their community name. This is the direct impact of the self-respect movement that happened in 1925. Like the above example each state, in fact, each district (counties) has its own characteristics.
Uneven Human Development across country
Human Development considering factors like life expectancy, education, and per capita income is uneven across the country. Just By studying a sample of users from Madhya Pradesh you cannot consider it is as a sample for the whole of India.
However, it doesn't mean each state are completely from different planets. we also observe similarities across India.
Similarities across metropolitan cities
Like any other cities in the world. Indian metropolitan cities are very similar due to the accessibility of varied services, progressiveness and liberalness.
Impact of English
One of India's British colonisation effects is that India has its own version of Indianized English called Indian English (like British & American English). Despite 10% of Indians speak English, at least half of Indians can communicate through broken English.
Recommendations for conducting user research in India
If you building an In-house UXR team build with pan Indian researchers at least from 4 different linguistic backgrounds (Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam) or reach a Research/Design agency that could pull of a pan Indian research team. Agencies I personally know who can pull the pan-Indian team is Hureo UX Research Company.
Grouping and sampling of participants based on geography & linguistics is a very crucial step to get unbiased Quality user research insights for India.
Conducting user research from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities is highly recommended. It will help to have a deep understanding of the difference & patterns of user experience across geographies.
Generally Studying Users below 45 age in Tier 1, 40 age in Tier 2 and 35 Age in Tier 3 will save you a lot of time. The tech-savviness of the people above I mentioned is very low or very basic because Their mental model belongs to the pre-internet era. In India, I also like to mention that Internet & smartphones become democratic very recently only, definitely not more than a decade.
Hope My observations will be helpful for your User research activities in India. For more queries please contact me via email@example.com.