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Viral Jani

Viral Jani has been the driving force behind several challenging projects in Consumer Tech, Television Broadcasting, Digital, Social Media and Media Planning. Armed with more than 15 years of experience in media and technology, Viral today is playing a key role in spearheading Investment Operations at Times Bridge.

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How to Tap the Potential of India for Your Global Start-Up

India has become the most sort after destination for global companies who are looking to expand their footprint and create a long-lasting business success.

Photo Credit : ShutterStock,

In the past, several companies have entered the Indian market, but many have failed to maximize economies of scale or tap the buzzing potential of the country. The key to be successful in India is to do business the Indian way rather than use global business models. Currently, the Indian economy is viewing a growth trajectory which no other global economy can compete with. An exciting mix of a booming domestic market opportunity, highly skilled manpower & a progressively open regulatory environment is what the country has to offer to the global companies. India has become the most sort after destination for global companies who are looking to expand their footprint and create a long-lasting business success.

Ways to tap India’s potential for Global Start-Up:

  • Empathise

An interesting mix of various cultures, thoughts, and beliefs makes India one of the most varied countries in the world. The country has over 20 official languages, hundreds of dialects, dressing styles, food habits and beliefs, making it a melting pot of different influences. With 30 states and 6 union territories, India as a marketplace is more like Europe rather than being a homogenous market. Does your brand have a strategy for each of these markets – this is where the catch lies. FMCG companies & Telecom companies have done a fantastic job of building this local connect.

So, it is important to understand the Indian market with empathy - coming with a global mindset will not work in India. It is crucial to understand the difference between consumer behaviour in metro cities and tier II & III towns. Global companies need to keep in mind that many different Indias exist within the subcontinent and accordingly they need to strike the right balance between global brands and local positioning.

Indians are obsessed with cricket, movies, politics, music, festivals, and food. A global brand needs to play smart and find its place in the cultural zeitgeist immediately. Companies entering the Indian market need to think what approach can be used during the next big cricket event. Is there something they can do to ride the wave of the next elections or can they use the next big festival season in India? This will instantaneously give a brand identity that Indians can relate to and create a more personal connect with their target audience.

  • Immerse

A key issue that India suffers from is superficial market entry syndrome. Every second company is attracted to the big numbers that India offers. It is almost too easy to achieve a million users especially for tech companies in India. But if you truly want to make it big in the country, you need to immerse yourself. By immerse I mean thinking outside metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. You need to have a strategy in place for the less popular but high on demand Tier II & III towns. It is imperative to realize that what appeals to small towns in India might be entirely different from what works in the big cities. All global brands have playbooks of success which work in other markets. In India, it's important to localise the playbooks to suit local culture. Global companies should aim for government partnerships. India is among the few countries which welcomes global companies with open arms. The government in India is happy and open to collaborate with global entities. This is true for various departments/ministries. There is a race between state governments to outdo others and out-innovate other states.

E.g. Smule’s community outreach program engages with amateur and budding singers via offline events across various cities in India. Smule community events have been conducted in cities like Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Meerut, Chandigarh among others. Such events are excellent way for super-users of the app come together and helps in furthering the mission of Smule to connect music lovers across the world.

  • Localise

India has unique and distinguishing conditions. You can find the savviest usage of top tier smartphones to cheapest smartphones (under $100) to feature phones with 4G connectivity. The level of connectivity fluctuates from high-speed 4G connections in some patches of the city to 2G-3G connections in other parts of the same city. So, for most consumer tech companies with long term plans in India, they need to manufacture made for India products or slightly tweak their global products in order to match with the Indian conditions.

E.g. Slew of announcements by Google, Facebook/Twitter lite, YouTube Go etc. Of late, India has become the laboratory for emerging markets. If a product works in India, it is likely to work in other emerging economies of Asia and Africa. E.g. Uber’s strategy to double down on India via investments in development centres in Bangalore & Hyderabad has given rich dividends. Uber builds these products for India and scales it for emerging markets. 

To conclude, making it big in India requires knowing the country’s capacity, empowering their local operations, investing in local talent and expressing a strong and evident commitment to the country. Global companies should try and provide closer attention to the user behaviour of Indian consumers by providing customization that the local market requires and must adjust to the Indian consumers interests by localizing their working model.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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