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  • Writer's pictureSanchi Bhardwaj

Learnings 2019 #5 : Is Indian user ready to pay for premium services?

“ I don’t have Hotstar premium, but that is okay. I can wait a day and then watch the episode. Why will I pay extra to be able to watch something which will be available for free anyways ”

- Ashish, Accountant at BPO

Though a lot of Indian population is buying Amazon Prime, Netflix, YouTube premium and paid Spotify; majority of tier II & III Indian population is still not ready to pay for premium features. If you ask an Indian consumer, “Will you pay a nominal amount for better experience on YouTube?” They would probably say “yes”. But, if you ask them if they have ever used a premium feature of any other product, they would say “no”.

During the year 2019, we conducted a few user researches to understand online media consumption & generation behaviour of Indian users. We interviewed people across socio economic class, demography etc. Research suggested, though they understand the difference between ‘good experience’ and ‘bad experience’, they are still are not ready to shell out extra money for that ‘ad free' service. There are various reasons to explain this fallacy. One, most of the Indian audience's online behaviour is predominantly governed by ‘what their peers are watching’. They constantly share and view content which is available free across social media & streaming platforms. Second, over the period of years, they have become immune to the idea of having ads on TV; they find ads itchy but, not worth their money. Third, people were found operating multiple accounts across platforms for leveraging ‘free’ usage (for instance, a guy had three gmail accounts for google photos extended space). Lastly, the price sensitive Indian consumer is quick to find free alternatives of a paid service.

What to keep in mind:

  • Even if the premium service offers a better experience, Indian customer might not necessarily pay for it.

  • Although urban India has started showing affinity towards better experiences, the tier II & III consumer is still tolerant towards mediocre experience as long as it is free.

  • For an Indian Consumer, a premium service must offer something more than just better experience. (eg: Amazon Prime quick delivery, Zomato Gold 1+1 offer).


Learnings 2019 offer a wholistic, unbiased human centric perspective to sensitise organisations about user behaviour and emerging markets. If used consciously, it can help in creating meaningful & responsible solutions that have a positive social impact.

During the year 2019, we at Crossed Design worked on various design projects ranging from education, community, technology, governance etc. These projects offered an opportunity to spend a lot of time in understanding people collecting real user stories, experiences and narratives across varied geographic, linguistic, economic and social backgrounds of India. These stories when carefully deconstructed and analysed, uncovered behaviour patterns and user insights.

We present to you, a curation of some of the most exciting learnings from the field - Learning 2019. These learning were accumulated as part of ongoing user research and usability studies conducted in the last year. To get a glimpse of all learnings, visit ‘Learnings2019’. To stay updated, please subscribe.



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