September 23rd 2021
APAC Spotlight: Affiliate marketing in India

Although the Asia-Pacific region has been slower to adopt affiliate marketing than the US and Europe, brands and partners are quickly embracing the pay-on-performance model, and the region offers western brands an exciting expansion opportunity.

In this edition of our APAC market spotlight series, we share everything there is to know about launching your affiliate programme in India.


Table of Contents

  1. Overview of India
  2. Affiliate marketing in India
  3. Adapting your affiliate programme to market nuances in India


Overview of India

India is a country that occupies the greater part of South Asia and is the seventh-largest country in the world by total area. It is also the second-most populous country globally, after China, with about one-sixth of the world’s total population.

Social media usage is high in India, with 400 million active users as of January 2020. There are 260 million Facebook users, 80 million Instagram users, 22.95 million on Snapchat and 11.45 million on Twitter.1

Traditionally, Indians prefer to shop in neighbourhood brick and mortar stores. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce across India, with a sharp rise in the number of first-time e-commerce users.2

India’s e-commerce market is expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026. This growth has been triggered by an increase in internet and smartphone penetration. As of August 2020, the number of internet connections in India significantly increased to 760 million, driven by ‘Digital India’, a Government initiative focused on transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.3


Affiliate marketing in India

Affiliate marketing is still in its growth phase across India, with 15% of total online sales driven via the channel. Established businesses, e-commerce start-ups, and online betting platforms are some sectors that have seen accelerated growth via the affiliate channel.

The low-risk pay-on-performance affiliate model, a growing number of e-commerce users, and an increase in affiliate marketing service providers are factors contributing to the growing popularity of affiliate marketing across India.4

Voucher affiliates are considered the most popular affiliate type given the fact that Indians like to save money. Popular voucher affiliates include CupoNation, CouponsDunia and CashKaro.


Adapting your affiliate programme to market nuances in India


Business etiquette in India

When approaching potential partners in India, it’s essential to adapt your communication style to local business etiquette and cultural nuances5.

  • Indians place importance on formal titles. When greeting counterparts, it is good to greet the most senior person first and address them by their given title (e.g., Doctor or Professor) as generally. Although some Indians may use namaste - a common greeting involving pressing your palms together with fingers pointing upwards and accompanied by a slight bow- as a greeting, a simple handshake is acceptable.
  • Indians tend to value their personal space and are generally not prone to making much physical contact. However, it is not uncommon for Indian men to engage in friendly back-patting. This is a sign of friendship and a positive signal for your working relationship.
  • Avoid showing the soles of your feet or your shoes, or pointing your feet towards anyone, as this is considered highly disrespectful and insulting in India.



Hindi is the most spoken language out of the 22 official languages in India. English speakers are estimated to be about 10% of the population with only 0.019% of the population speaking English as their first language. 6 7

Local language support is essential when managing your affiliate programme and communication with affiliates. All content and promotions should also be localised. We would recommend having a native speaker who understands the market managing your affiliate programme.


Local holidays and observances in India

To gain brand awareness, create affiliate marketing campaigns that focus on market-specific e-commerce dates and events. Some events to keep in mind for e-commerce in India include:

  • Valentine’s Day (14th February): Couples exchange gifts
  • Diwali (4th November): One of the major festivals celebrated in India
  • Black Friday (26th November): A key online shopping festival
  • Cyber Monday (29th November): A key online shopping festival
  • Christmas Day (25th December): Consumers exchange gifts with friends and family

You can find out more about global holidays and observances to promote via your affiliate programme in our global guide.


As affiliate marketing grows in popularity across APAC, India offers an excellent opportunity for brands. Any brand looking to expand their affiliate programme to India should focus on localising strategies to be set up for success.


If you are interested in learning about other countries across the APAC region, you can find out more in our APAC affiliate marketing handbook.



Author: Acceleration Partners