11 August 2007

Ooh Aah India, Aaya India: Coffee and Donuts/March 07/Excerpts from article by Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT India

Ooh Aah India, Aaya India!
What Indian brands need to do to become global brands

In Nation Brands of the 21st Century, Simon Anholt says: “Fifteen years ago, who would have believed that we Europeans could be happily consuming Chinese Tsingtao beer or Malaysian Proton cars? That one of the hottest-selling perfumes in Paris would be Urvashi, manufactured in India by a company that previously specialized in hydraulic brake fluid?”

Whether it is the realization of the advantages of a large young population or the newfound confidence – epitomized by the "India Everywhere" campaign in Davos this year, the message that is reaching all Indian manufacturers is that it is possible to “go global” and that it is now or never. And the Indian media is further fuelling this by aggressively, reporting and reflecting the same with pride and optimism.

Consultants who were advising multinationals on their entry strategy into India are now helping Indian companies chart their growth in world markets. While Brand India itself may be gaining recognition, all manufacturers are aware that Indian brands as such are yet to make their mark on the world map – unlike Japanese and Korean brands or even the Chinese Lenovo.

In this moment of history as it were, what could be a best practice framework for Indian brands wanting to become global brands?

1) Indian brands must work from India’s own unique DNA.
While there are plenty of lessons to learn from global /Western brands, blindly replicating their templates really will not work. Indian brands that have become successful have picked an essential Indian truth: Gandhi: alternative to violence; Deepak Chopra: alternative mental health; Kerala: an alternative tourist idea; Bollywood: extravaganza; Indian fantasy: Indian IT: cost, willingness to work round the clock; Indian Managers: intellect.

2) Industries need to get together.
Davos, Kerala, Nasscom, Bollywood … More Indian industries need to come together with a larger purpose, think long term, learn to manage collective money, share risks and develop opportunities. Indian industries like leather, tea, spices, must examine the processes and practices of world industries like diamonds, platinum, Woolmark, and Country of Origin brands like New Zealand Lamb. Once Indian industries start thinking in terms of labels, quality standards and stamps, the day may not be far off, when LVMH bags will have a small tag that reads “Made with Indian leather” or Marlboro cigarettes have “India tobacco inside”.

3) Back evangelists to the hilt.
Indian IT is an example. A few people became heroes, but thousands of smaller companies benefited. The Azim Premjis,Narayana Murthys, Ratan Tatas of this world have deep-rooted greatness, be it humility, integrity or quality. It serves our nation well as it epitomises our quest, so while industry may judge them on profits alone, their genuine philanthropy and compassion is equally legendary.

4) Take global gatherings/trade fairs and presence in other countries seriously.
“We had a stall” is not enough. “We export to 13 countries” is not enough. Indian companies need to make their presence felt in the countries that they operate in. They must think spectacular. Aim to shock and awe. It’s the new way to battle and it needs a plan.

5) Don’t imitate products of Western design; make R & D fashionable.
Indian companies do not invest enough in product planning based on consumer behavior and trend forecasting. There’s a lack of “finish” in the manufacturing. India should learn from the Koreans; they have managed stunning design and technology. The good news is India can do it, and now. Kurkure, a totally Indian brand of snacks created and developed by Frito Lay’s India operations, is so huge and fast-growing that it might soon be rolled out as a worldwide brand. If India can do it with something as basic as snack food, the sky is the limit. So give R&D its space in the sun. Treat R&D chiefs the way gastronomes treat celebrity chefs - with respect and awe for the feast they can put out.

6) Get a better understanding of value propositions.
A Korean lesson. Earlier, most Europeans and Americans may have bought Japanese products because they were significantly cheaper; but now they consistently pay more for it. The same applies to some Korean products. So it is possible to shed the “cheap” image if India can get its act together on the design-technology-value combination. This is what has been the defense strategy of most Indian brands that have given MNCs a run for their money. They found a differentiation, innovated, tapped into a native habit, sensed a trend, cracked a value equation. From shampoo sachets to SUVs, this is something Indian industry will need to understand if it wants to compete with the Chinese too.

7) Execution, execution, execution.
The Indian psychological make-up is more inclined to thinking rather than doing. The size and scale of the country and the different strata that people come from, often makes perfection in execution next to impossible. India’s expectations of its own service standards are very low. Indians tend to be not very demanding and in fact often dismiss poor quality standards with affectionate forgiveness and a strange pride that says “we are like this only”.

8) Hear the distant signals and take serious action.
Child labor, animal welfare, environment, human rights: Maybe in the future India could build products around ideas in this area. In an interview on branding Web site AllAboutBranding.com, Martin Lindstrom commented: “Far too few corporates seem prepared to go out on a limb, take a position and voice an opinion. They just want to mind their own business. But as national reputation awareness climbs, and consumers increasingly factor nationality and more particular national attitudes and actions into their consideration sets, companies may find they have little option but to think through and articulate where in the world they stand on a whole range of issues. It’s a whole new take on globalization.”

9) Documentation, sharing.
India realized it could generate its own case studies only when Harvard Business Review sited a few. Indian organizations in general are still reluctant to share details for mutual benefit.

10) Understand that messaging is an investment, not an expenditure.
Indian corporations will have to stop balking at communication costs in international media. But more than conventional messaging, India in the early stages will need offbeat ideas to “implant” the Indian story everywhere - whether it is through connections in high places, talks in colleges, unique distribution ideas, or extravagant shows and brand ambassadors.

“Like an international traveler, at any given time a global brand is simply a combination of two things: where it is from and where it is going. Long-term success in a high-speed, multi-layered, unpredictable global marketplace requires a clear understanding of both.” Elliot Polak in Going Global: How Local Origin Affects Brand Strategy.

Indian brands know where they are from. They just have to decide where they want to go. And how fast.

Read the original article here http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/261098.cms

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