In the last two decades, many multinational companies have made deep inroads into the Indian market.
The Indian economy has witnessed a growth trajectory like no other, making it a favorable destination for global companies looking to expand their reach and create a story of sustained business success. India is currently the fifth largest economy in the world and is projected to grow to $5 trillion by the end of 2025. India is the largest open internet market in the world today, which translates into a plethora of opportunities. for global organizations. However, being successful in India requires more than transplanting a global idea. Organizations that have made a mark on the subcontinent come to India with a long-term commitment and see India as not just another market, but also a learning center for launching and scaling in emerging economies around the world. world. Consequently, strategic partnerships play a crucial role in enabling the success of global companies in India, in more ways than one. Some of these include:
Finding a place in the cultural spirit of India: India is a diverse continent both culturally and economically, to the point that every 200 km, the language and culture change in the country. Given this diversity, understanding the pulse of Indian consumers and what shapes their sensibilities is one of the most critical aspects of making a lasting impact in India.
Cricket, cinema, politics, music, festivals and food are all popular activities in India and for a global brand to build a deep connection with the consumer, it is imperative that they are able to take advantage of these cultural moments. Global organizations must recognize that there are many Indies within the subcontinent and a localized strategy is essential to achieve scale and success. A deep-seated, meaningful connection with key target audiences is often built on the foundation of momentous moments that bring people together almost naturally. This is where the right strategic partner and their understanding of local knowledge can greatly benefit global brands that are new to the cultural nuances of India.
Forge strategic alliances: Over the past two decades, many multinational companies have made deep inroads into the Indian market. The key to matching the pace with the diverse market is to invest in cultural alignment through a phased approach consisting of access-driven channel, product and positioning localization for compelling market penetration.
The Indian business landscape is much more open and accessible to global businesses, compared to some of the world’s largest economies. The increased focus towards welcoming life-shaping investments in the country has further unlocked India’s potential and accelerated the growth of its economy. The recent successes achieved by some global giants, including Uber and Airbnb, show how a well-thought-out strategic partnership with people, organizations, governments, and IPs is important for long-term growth and impact.
Harnessing the potential of India as a hub of innovation: India has long been a go-to destination for low-tech services, but the market has now become the hub of technology and innovation for a number of global organizations. With its mass consumer market, it has users for all kinds of new products or technologies and is slowly becoming a hub for emerging markets. If it works in India, it almost certainly will work in other developing economies. While the country has already established itself as a reliable player for service provision, it is now poised to become the product innovation hub for the world.
India is the largest democracy in the world with a young demographic and an open digital market. It offers many opportunities but with its own unique challenges. Therefore, it is best viewed as a collection of interrelated regional economies, with different investment and regulatory environments from state to state. While the nation has tremendous prospects for global brands, it remains a large and complex market that requires careful navigation. Approaching the market with a multidimensional vision, backed by a local strategic partner, can lead to a successful venture in the country.
Location strategy: With 700 million online users and nearly 200 million online shoppers in India, the early success of a global business can be achieved with the right product and strategy. But for sustained growth, companies have to navigate through various market complexities. With a population of 1.4 billion, over 20 official languages, varied dialects, food and lifestyles, India offers an opportunity for global brands like no other developing economy. It is equally important to look at India multidimensionally, as consumer behaviors differ dramatically between urban metropolitan areas and Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. A market empathetic approach focused on cultural nuances, market sentiments and customer segments served by a local partner can only guarantee continued success.
In short, to be worthwhile in India, global organizations require a deep understanding of the diverse cultural nuances of the country, a strong local operations partner, investment in local talent, and an unmatched understanding of the business ecosystem. To seize and benefit from the vast opportunities that India offers, global companies must enter the market with a long-term vision and commitment and must customize their business model to suit the ever-evolving requirements of the Indian consumer.
(Author is EVP and country head, India, Times Bridge. Views expressed are personal.)
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