Brand India moving abroad

Today, many companies of Indian origin in several segments such as automobiles, FMCG, F&B, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, garments and textiles, IT and health and beauty have made their presence felt in some part or other of the world. Indian brands are no longer limited to the sub-continent itself. After six decades of Indian independence, the economy is growing like never before giving an indication that it may even surpass US economy in the coming 20 to 30 years. And, for sure, India would be competing head-on-head with China too.

We often do hear of foreign majors entering the Indian market for further expansion and growth. However, during the past couple of years, Indian companies too are moving abroad for international expansion. A country, which was not able even to feed its population twice a day, is witnessing today a GDP growing above eight per cent for the last five to six years constantly. Currently, Indian economy is competing with top economies of the world such as USA, China and Singapore. Vast sources, abundance of labour, young entrepreneurs, quality education, nature of Indian market etc. are helping Indian companies to grow manifold not only at home but also on international shores.


Brands abroad

Indian brands have made their presence felt throughout the world. While many of them are present in countries like UAE, Sri Lanka, Uk, America, Singapore, China, Pakistan and Malaysia, some are planning to expand abroad soon. Over the past few years, many Indian brands from various sectors have been seen moving abroad. Of these, the most prominent ones include automobile, F&B, health and beauty, education, IT and apparel majors. In automobile category, brands like Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra and Bajaj Motors have expanded extensively across the world. In F&B, Barista Coffee Co. Ltd, United Beverages, The Great Kabab Factory and Express Indian Restaurants are the major brands in expanding overseas. Taj Hotels, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Bharat Hotels etc. are promoting Indian hospitality sector abroad. In aviation training and health & beauty sectors, AHA, VLCC and Dr. Batras have taken the lead. Ranbaxy, Wockhardt, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories are all present on international shores. Similarly, in information technology, Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Aptech and NIIT are well-recognised worldwide. Hidesign, Lilliput, Raymond and Siyaram have been able to create a space for themselves abroad. Besides these already established brands, there are companies like Kingfisher Training Academy, Indian Coffee House, Apollo Hospitals, Reliance Entertainment Pvt. Ltd and Dolphin Mart are almost ready to take off for international expansion and compete with other dominant brands.


Reasons behind international expansion

  • Changes in mid-1990s: Many companies underwent changes in mid-1990s, which gave them more confidence to meet the global challenge. And also, liberal government policies in early 2000 helped international expansion of Indian brands.
  •  India, an outsourcing destination: Success of India as an outsourcing destination also exposed the country to the knowledge and methods for conducting business in foreign countries.
  • To secure long-term supplies of natural resources: In the face of high commodity prices, countries like India have an increasing of securing long-term supplies of natural resources so as to meet domestic industrial demand.
  • To expand their distinctive capabilities: Many Indian companies are seeking to expand their distinctive capabilities by acquiring specific skills, knowledge and technology abroad.
  • Domestic competition and international exposure: These factors are pushing some Indian companies into overseas markets.


Big deals of 2007-2008

  • In March 2008, Tata Motors India acquired luxurious automobile brands, Jaguar and Land Rover, for $ 2.3 billion (approximately Rs 920 billion). 
  • Vijay Mallya and his partner, the Mol family of Amsterdam, successfully completed a $ 124 million (approximately Rs 4960 million) deal to acquire 100 per cent stake in Spyker, named Force India later on.
  • Tata Steel acquired UK-based Corus for about $ 8 billion (approximately Rs 320 billion).
  • Suzlon Energy Ltd acquired German firm Repower Systems AG for $ 1.7 billion (approximately Rs 680 billion).
  • Vijay Mallya-led United Spirits bought Scotch whisky distiller Whyte & Mackay for $ 1.11 billion (approximately Rs 444 billion).
  • Essar Group acquired Canadian firm, Algoma Steel, for about $ 1.55 billion (approximately Rs 62 billion).
  • Hindalco acquired Novelis for $ 6 billion (approximately Rs 240 billion).


Understanding laws of the land

Every country has different rules and regulations, which every international or domestic company has to adhere to. One cannot ignore them or take them for granted for that  would lead to penalty and would tarnish the brand image in the market. So, it is important for a new player to understand the laws of the land properly. The best way for this is taking legal advice from well-established consultants in the country concerned. Mr Sandeep Ahuja, CEO, VLCC International LLC, Dubai, informs, “One has to understand that a lot of what we take for granted in India (overlooking some relatively innocuous compliances) cannot be ignored in other countries.” Though, most of the nations have retailer friendly rules and regulations, which invite foreign investments.


Mode of expansion

Companies have to do a complete market study to know whether there should be company owned outlets; franchisee outlets; joint ventures besides acquisitions, which would help them in their growth and dominate the market and compete with other players. Also, keeping in view the rules such as FDI, companies can decide on the kind of outlet it wants to launch. In some countries, FDI is allowed but, in some countries like India, full or 100 per cent FDI is not allowed. Hence, an international player has to join hands with the local player. Says Mr Tarak Bhattacharya, Head Operations, Barista Coffee Company Ltd, “We did a fair amount of research and selected out partners based on different criteria ranging from brand understanding and passion for coffee to understanding of the retail business.” Before selecting a partner, one has to understand the interest and desire of the company ( it’s going to enter in partnership) for success and failure of the brand largely depend upon it. Opines Ms Sapna Gupta, Director, Air Hostess Academy, “AHA’s Expansion Analysis Wing (EAW) is doing all the ground work and research for AHA’s global expansions. AHA’s Expansion Analysis Wing will also gauge the requirement for trained manpower in the aviation and hospitality sectors in the countries it would venture into in future.”


Marketing & advertising

No matter how much popularity the brand enjoys, significant marketing and advertising strategies are required in order to make its presence felt in the market and get customers’ attention. So, from having a good punch line to different advertisements featured in radio, TV, newspaper, magazines, billboards etc. do play a deciding role in pushing up the sales. Opines Mr Ahuja, “Just like in India, we are positioned in UAE as a slimming, beauty and fitness expert. Similarly, we will continue to be positioned as expert in all the countries where we will mark our presence.” Many international brands keep on changing their marketing and advertising techniques from time to time in order make their presence felt and often come out with distinct advertisements. Mr Bhattacharya informs, “Barista keeps on introducing new and exciting food and beverages on quarterly basis along with special events and promotional strategies in order to generate enthusiasm, around the store.” Marketing and advertising go hand in hand as both help to make the presence of the brand felt and boost the sales. The company has to follow different strategies and tactics from time to time in order to make compete with other players in the sector. Says Ms Gupta, “The international market is a lot more mature in terms of advertising and marketing strategies. Depending on the country we expand into, we would use advertising and marketing strategies that create the maximum impact.”


Handling competition

International venture means very tough competition not only from the international players but also from the local players who are already there in the market. Competition is there in every segment and facing it is the key to success. It’s never easy to pull customers from one brand to another brand. It’s really vital for the player to choose right location and target customers depending upon the brand. Says, Mr Ahuja, “We offer, a 360 degree transformation solution that continues to be unique. We have also managed to retain our first-mover advantage by constantly innovating our product and service delivery offerings and making substantial investment in research. While we do have competition, it is mostly restricted to parts of our overall product portfolio.” In every segment be it F&B, hospitality, garments and textiles, health and beauty, accessories or automobile, competition is there not only from domestic or local players but also from international players already established in the country. Knowledge, experience and positive attitude are all what enable the company to promote its brand and compete with the existing brands. Ms Gupta informs, “It was a challenge to establish a reputation for ourselves, given the fact that we were the first of our kind to create a niche for ourselves in providing trained manpower to the aviation and hospitality industry. Today, the industry recognises AHA as a quality conscious, credible and reliable training institute.” 



With abundance of resources available for Indian companies in terms of investments and experience, the Brand India image is bound to become bigger in the years to come. More Indian companies - big or small - will reach overseas destinations to tap new markets and acquire foreign brands.

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