By Guest Contributor Siddharth Shankar
As India’s economy grows and it becomes an increasingly important export market for UK businesses, leading expert in trading with India Siddharth Shankar shares his top tips on how to successfully do business in the region.
Show respect for Indian customs and traditions
To successfully do business in India, it’s critical to get to know the local culture and respect it. One of the most important customs to adhere to is respecting elders. Age is associated with wisdom and authority.
In business meetings or when networking in India, show that you understand this by acting with the proper degree of respect to the elder persons in the room. It will help the people you are doing business with to trust that you will acknowledge and be sensitive to their culture in all your dealings with them.
Avoid marketing traps
Going all out on an all-singing, all-dancing marketing campaign isn’t always the most successful way of making a splash when you launch a product in India.
Success lies in thorough research and careful targeting of market segmentation and consumer behaviour. Many businesses, when launching in India, engage in activities such as giving out free samples of a product at an event or in the streets. However, in marketing a British product in India, the brand story is key. Consumers love the quality and heritage of British products and it’s almost impossible to convey this effectively through marketing activities such as this.
If consumers fail to understand the brand’s value they are highly unlikely to follow through and purchase the product. Targeted activities are much more effective. For example, partnering a magazine aimed at your target market and attaching a free sample of your product with an internal feature that conveys the brand value.
Research market segments
Focus your marketing activities closely. Which segment of consumers within India is your target market? Only well-known luxury brands are likely to be successful with ‘The Socialites’ – the upper social strata in India – who are highly brand conscious. ‘The Conservatives’ – India’s middle class – tend to be very rooted in Indian traditions and customs so it’s important to be mindful of this when marketing a product to them. It will require an ‘Indian touch’ to be successful. They also tend to want lots of information about a product and take time to consider potential purchases carefully. In contrast, India’s youth have a much more modern viewpoint and are optimistic and enthusiastic about trying new things. They are brand cautious but they are ready to pay for quality products. A one-size-fits-all marketing approach is likely to fall down. Be clear about who your product is aimed at and tailor your strategy appropriately.
Get the value right
Value is becoming more important to Indian consumers than price point. When making a choice between purchasing one product or another, the cost difference is no longer the primary factor that affects decision-making. The perceived value of the product is more important. Ensure your product feels like good value for money.
Don’t forget after-sales service
Operating in overseas market can often make the delivery of after-sales services hard, so make sure you have the right logistics and quality control in place. Don’t skip this step. It is vital to make sure your customer service structure is well planned and in place before your product hits the market.
Don’t miss important documentation
It is worth creating a document checklist so that you can ensure that exports to India are accompanied by the right paperwork – things like a Certificate of Origin, and the other documents required for their specific customs and market regulations.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a job you only need to do once. Regulations in India change all the time, so remember to stay on top of documentation requirements.
Don’t rule out air freight
Don’t assume that sending your freight to India by air is always going to be the more expensive option. If your goods are low weight but higher value, or you need them to be there quickly, air freight be the most cost-effective option.
About the Author
Siddharth Shankar is a leading expert in trading with Asia and CEO of Tails Trading, an innovative new solution helping UK SMEs to export their goods to Asia. Visit www.tailstrading.com to find out more.
Discover all the tips for doing business in India
Doing Business in India by Jamie Cid and Laurie Baum
The book is designed to help anyone exploring, starting or already doing business in India better aware of the cultural and business etiquettes necessary to succeed in this market. This will include: initiating and maintaining business contacts, negotiating tactics, working with local companies, and more. This concise book is a one-stop guide that aims to shed light on the intricacies and complexities of doing business in India. More information.
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