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ISA seminar Day 1: Challenges of building global brands out of India

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ISA seminar Day 1: Challenges of building global brands out of India

With globalisation here to stay, the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) has decided to look at the issue closely and from a different angle as well. With the intention to bring the point that global brands can be created from the Indian market as well, ISA has organised a two-day seminar, themed ‘Building Global Brands out of India’, on April 21-22, 2006.

Following the introduction by P&G’s Bharat Patel and Dharen Chada from the Momentum Consulting, Knowledge Partner of the event, the keynote address was delivered by Jagdish Sheth on the topic ‘What makes a company or a brand truly global’. In his address, Sheth said, “I strongly believe that brands cannot be bought in the market place nor can they be manufactured in the factory, but they ought to be earned.”

Stating that the global economy today pointed to opportunities in the emerging markets, which are being caused due to four forces, Sheth enumerated these factors being economic pragmatism, collapse of communism, aging of affluent markets and the flat world.

He further said, “All advanced countries are aging. The aging problem can be seen in developed countries like Japan and Germany. In Germany, last year, the number of deaths was more than the number of births. With this aging problem, more passive incomes are being generated.”

Sheth believed that India was moving from income driven markets to wealth driven markets. He said that when CEOs retired, they would have amassed large wealth and that Indian media had all the equipment that international players had.

He concluded his presentation saying, “The new measure of world economies is PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) and currently, the US ranks first, followed expectedly by China, then Japan and India. China is slated to surpass the US by 2021. While India ranks fourth now, after Japan, it is expected to overtake it soon. India is slowly moving from an isolated domestic economy to an integrated global economy. A truly global company loses the country of origin identity amongst all its stakeholders. India faces problems like lack of scale, lack of global mindset, unsupportive government rules and regulations.”

Deepak Ghaisas and Ravi Kant then took on the subject of ‘Perspectives from the Frontlines of Selling an Indian Brand Abroad’. Ghaisas kicked off the session, quoting an instance from experience, “In 1993, three of us came together with the mindset ‘we must do something different and if we want to do something different, let us look at what so far nobody has done’. We got a capital of $1 million. Out of that $400,000 was contributed by CitBbank and the rest by friends. From 1993 to 2006, that $1 million has grown to $2.3 billion.”

Sharing further on this, he said, “We made it a product brand and not a corporate brand. Nobody had thought that banking solutions would come as a product. We kept vertically focused. There was immense pressure in the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 to get the Y2k business.”

Ghaisas elaborated that the way forward was to identify competition and acquire domain knowledge, involving stakeholders in the process. “Approach to competition should not be a football game where you constantly try to beat someone else, but rather should be like a game of golf where you excel yourself. It also helps to keep high benchmarks. It is very important to have a brand vision too. Just like Intel has a small sticker in every PC that you see saying Intel inside, we would like to have every bank, every branch in the world should use our product,” he added.

Ravi Kant took on from here, saying, “There are challenges involved in taking an Indian brand abroad. This has a lot to do with the image of India. At a basic level, this pertains to what India stands for. It is believed that India stands for brainpower, software. The whole world is looking at the big populations of India and China. Titan’s has been an exciting journey, though it too did face some rough weather. We made use of two models –Honour and Glory Model (Europe) and Building Block Model (Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa).”

Speaking more specifically on his brand, Ravi Kant said, “We introduced Titan as the new world watch. Our positioning was premium and we hired the best of designers to make an exclusive product. What we realised was that it was a bumpy road and that it was a difficult market. The country of origin played a key role. Our other model was the Building Block Model, which meant taking things ahead step by step.”

He divulged that in the first year, Titan focused on distribution and understanding the retailer than the outdoor presence. This also included involving the consumer with the brand and initiatives like having road shows and so on.

“The Middle East has over 300 brands of watches of which 214 advertised last year. Today, Titan is among the top brands in Oman and Bahrain. This was achieved by developing product strategy around deep understanding of the consumer. Identifying the right partner to build relationship is very important. The two useful brand mantras are differentiation and focus. Titan introduced a steel collection and also had a campaign around the theme. If you don’t shake the future the future will shake you,” Ravi Kant concluded, driving home his point.

Another Ravi Kant on the dias, this time from Tata Motors, too, had a point of view to share. He observed, “A lot depends on what type of industry you are in. We decided to move to less cyclical businesses and de-risk the business model. Product development is the key. Our products like the mini truck have done very well. Since the market has changed from supplier’s market to customer’s market, there is the need for new product lifecycle management.”

Another interesting session in the day was the one conducted by Harsh Mariwala and Jalaj Dani. Speaking on Marico example, Mariwala said, “Value addition for BPOs happens in the backroom while for us at Marico, it happens at the customer’s end. We operate in a number of categories like hair care, skin care, wellness, etc. In the early ‘90s, export of coconut oil was prohibited. So essentially licenses had to be taken and renewed. Our journey has been mainly driven by access to clusters of Indian expats, common media footprint and common ethnicity.”

Throwing further light on an important aspect of his segment – distribution – Mariwala said, “We first proceeded with a distributor model – appointing distributor at every location – and then started investing in brands. We have also leveraged local celebrities efficiently. While dealing with modern trade, we have come across interesting and useful insights.”

He spoke of the international experiences that the company had had in the Middle East, Bangladesh and so on. He said, “Our geographical expansion is limited by hair oiling habit. This habit is fast disappearing. So, we have thought of creating brands through good experiences. We started Kaya Skin Care in 2003. We catered to three areas – namely, problem skin, normal skin and anti-ageing. Since we have dermatologists on board, this is arguably a unique business model. We have two outlets in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi. We went through a huge learning curve. We are now trying multiple business models.”

Mariwala concluded on the thought, “Through our geographical expansions, we have opened up a lot of career opportunities for our people. Apart from that, we have been able to leverage technology as well as marketing. We are passionate about Indian heritage and uncommon sense.”

As for Jalaj Dani, the need was to identify fast growing and emerging markets. He said, “We have taken the route of acquisitions. So, we have acquired Berge, Apco and SCIP, a local company in Egypt. There is a challenge we face with regard to human resource. There is a need to respect cultural sensitivity. What we have learnt is that each market is different and has different things to learn. Localisation of talent is a big challenge. We have to constantly keep lines of communication open.”

While these were just some nuggets that audience consumed, much more was seen from the day. Some of the other speakers included Pranesh Misra and Jehangir Pocha, who spoke on ‘Learning from Other Nations and Brands’, and Piyush Pandey, who spoke on ‘A Brand Personality for Brand India’.


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