The journey from Made in India to Made for India: How global brands adapted our desi avatar
The world is getting smaller and India has emerged as a lucrative horizon for global brands. Several Government policies, trade liberalization, tax ratification or an open approach towards foreign investments have shifted the gears of Indian economy. The opportunities for domestic players as well as the international brands are up to the brim and the brands are looking ahead to penetrate inside this evolving Indian market. Cementing one’s footprints on a foreign land has always been a hard nut to crack which is often influenced by the cultural values, new product offerings, and variations in products/services patterns across the boundaries and much more. Despite being the mounting challenges, numerous notable brands sealed their presence on the Indian landscape with only one strategy- Localization.
So, how did they do it? How these global brands which once appeared alien to Indian consumers made their way to the Indian hearts?
Taking advantage of social status
There has always been an undeniable love for the foreign names in India to portray a lavishing social status. Luxury brands and retail leaders have made India their home. Armani, Chanel, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo etc. have already cemented their positions on the Indian map with their country-specific and localized strategies.
Entering with a new approach
When Colgate was preparing the marketing strategy to compose its show in India, somewhere it knew that it would be a jaw-breaking task to fit in the traditional Indian family structures and promoting a fresh alternative and convincing people to upgrade the old ways of cleaning teeth.
A nation’s cultural and historical values are reflected in the food preferences and consumption habits of a nation. It was nearly impossible for McDonald’s to mark its territory with its global menu. The cultural sensitive pattern and religious choice of the Indian consumers turned out as the biggest hurdle. The fast food house’s main concern was to keep its Veg menu distant from the Non-Veg Carte not only from the table, but in the kitchen as well. The fast-food giant took a step back, studied the consumer preferences for 6 years, localized its menu (removing beef products) and jumped on its Indian bandwagon. The no-beef, no-pork menu was launched with fresh additions like McAloo Tikki and even eggless mayonnaise. And the Indian consumers welcomed the brand wholeheartedly and they are still lovin’ it!
KFC got struck in a harder way. The menu didn’t mingle well with the Indian taste buds. Yum Restaurants India, the pave makers for KFC’s entrance in India, closed all the KFC’s outlets. Later, the brand was re-launched with a fresh vegetarian menu that included rice meals, wraps and side dishes, eggless mayonnaise and the local Indian flavors, cooking techniques and spices.
Remember Pizza Hut’s first vegetarian restaurant in Ahmedabad, Gujarat where it even offered a range of toppings selectively for its Jain customers. The brand’s strategy of ‘Indianization’ was on mark. Anup Jain, director of marketing for Pizza Hut India once said in his interview, ““We customize our international flavors to suit local preferences, and 20% of our overall menu is localized. World over, the toppings at Pizza Hut are mainly beef and pepperoni.” But in India, where up to 60% of the people are estimated to be vegetarian, “we have more variety in vegetarian toppings.”
Brands like Whirpool, LG and Samsung delved deep into the biggest barriers like power cuts and uncertain water supply and launched their electronic appliances including a series of semi-automatic washing machines and appliances with in-built invertors. The color of the appliances and their looks too, were modified after intensive consumer research and feedback. Customization doesn’t ends here. Microwave ovens’ starter kits are tailor-made keeping in mind the individualistic habits and preferences of the regions- an idli mold for Southern India and a plate for Northern India. Phillips water purifier based on ultraviolet radiation technology is the latest addition in the Indian product customization
While major brands have already secured their corners in the hearts of the Indian consumers, the others are looking ahead to find a corner for their expertise. Many more videshies(foreigners) are coming!