How Indian brands can go global

How Indian brands can go global

For one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India somehow manages to show negligible presence in the list of top global brands. Even as Indian brands indulge in international expansion, achieving a global status seems to be at the far end of their motives, as opposed to making a quick buck and exploiting marketing opportunities as an ‘international brand’.

Catering to the second most populous nation in the world, which also holds the distinction of being the most diverse in terms of different cultures, religions, languages and more poses enough challenge for domestic players in the market. Adding to it, if an Indian business wishes to become a global brand, incorporating world culture and international norms and quality standards along with the domestic needs, it may seem like a monumental task.

There is growing suspicion in the West about the quality of goods and services provided by developing nations and emerging markets. While human resource in India, in terms of labour as well as skilled professionals, especially in fields of science, is valued highly abroad, the world does not seem to hold the products and services in India with the same respect and trust.

Innovation is another area where Indian brands take a beating. While we abound in generic products producing companies, not many are ready to invest time, money and labour into conducting indigenous research & development because it needs substantial investments and gestational period. This is evident from how low India lies on the global list of new patent earning countries.
All this can be combated and Indian brands can truly make name for themselves globally by simply focussing on improving their goods, operations and organisational ability.

Strategic Partnerships

A good way of opening the way for more opportunities in the international market is by partnering with reputable brands in host countries. Joint ventures and strategic alliances can help in making a name for the Indian brand across the globe, on account of their linking up with a well known brand. Starbucks allied with Tata in order to open up its stores in India and many Bollywood production houses have collaborated with the likes of big international companies Fox and Disney to help with distribution in the global market.

This helps in the smooth functioning of operations in the international market and instils a sense of global presence for the local brand. It can be the ideal first step in moving towards globalisation for any Indian brand. It can also help Indian organisations leverage the already strong established distribution networks of the host organisation. Bonita has entered into a relationship with Bed, Bath & Beyond, becoming the first Indian brand to sell its products through the American retail giant. This has given the company a strategic presence across the North American continent and a chance to sell its product side-by-side with other leading international brands.  

Enforcing Discipline

Discipline is the pride of the Western industry. Work culture in the East is not akin to these standards and often, developing nations get a bad name for an easy-going (or lax) attitude. Market and regulatory institutions also have a role to play here. If we want to establish brands that can provide quality of global standards, our quality and hygiene standards need to be raised on a national level. If drugs produced by Indian companies fail to pass quality checks in Europe and the US, we cannot expect them to become global brands; they can at best continue to capture market share in other developing countries in Asia and Africa.

To become a force to be reckoned with, local companies need to build a brand which can be associated with discipline, business ethics, sincerity of service and top notch professionalism. It is important to enhance quality, output and productivity up to the standards of international levels to not only become globally competitive but an all round global brand.

Think Globally, Act Locally

Any firm, which wants to be involved in global trade, needs to follow the concept of ‘Think Globally, Act Locally.’ While maintaining international standards, a company also has to focus on the needs and demands of various global communities and ethnicities. One can follow the example of major MNCs which function in India, the way they focus on local needs, exploiting Indian tastes and preferences, while maintaining business standards and core product value of their home country. A special consideration has to be made when working with inter-cultural groups and there is a need to understand the work environment of different nations and their exceptions to certain rules. You also have to be careful in understanding the local sentiments and cultural preferences.

Invest on R&D

You can go as far by producing generic products. Organisations, which desire to make a splash globally need to have long term vision. This includes investing in Research & Development to produce indigenous products that can earn patents. However, due to longer gestational period and need to invest significant time and money, many Indian companies shy away from going all out in this domain. This needs to change if we have to produce globally competitive brands. This is one area where Bonita has laid special emphasis. It is working aggressively towards producing patent-earning products that can distinguish its brand at the international level. The firm doesn’t see investment on R&D as a liability, but as a strategic investment that will bring long-term dividends. 

Banking on Indian reputation

On the global map, India raises many talking points as a culturally rich and diverse nation with a unique history. It has a reputation in many fields, from spirituality and Yoga, to ayurvedic and herbal medicine, flora and mineral resources, as well as a strong hold of human intelligence resources. This vast reputation can be exploited by brands in order to establish a foothold in the international market. Focusing on India as a pioneer of healthy alternatives in medicine, the land of Darjeeling tea, promoter of Yoga and classical Indian dance and music, even Bollywood, and home to highly capable IT professionals, can help in creating a unique global footprint.

(The author is Joint MD, Bonita)

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