Cultural Resistance

India’s Love-Hate Relationship to the West

Three women in colorful saris walk down a sidewalk.

Not all emerging markets respond equally to global consumer culture. Indian consumers experience a love-hate relationship to the West – the result of the prolonged cultural resistance under the Raj. Semiotics-based research mitigates consumer resistance by revealing the underling codes structuring the meaning of goods and rituals in a market. Furthermore, a close, semiotic ethnography of consumers in highly codified rituals exposes potential points of entry for brand adoption.

Results: A semiotic analysis of Indian advertising and consumer interviews with middle-class professionals in Delhi and Bombay revealed the distinct cultural lens that Indian consumers bring to the perception of value in the processed food category. Findings provided insights for developing culturally relevant product concepts and packaging designs for a brand extension.