How can Mera Brand India be more Mahaan!?

14 Aug,2013



How brand India can make itself more attractive to investors?


By Amit Bapna


This is not a story about the great Indian investment potential, as that has been narrated an umpteen number of times. This one is about the role that marketing can play in enhancing and creating a sharp country brand – one that is robust, multi-layered and ready for the future. The recent announcement of 41-year-old Sameer Suneja taking over as global head of Perfetti, the Italian confectionary giant is one such move towards the global recognition of Indian talent. He is the first non-Italian to have reached the exalted position at the global HQ. In another instance, India has a much greater significance for Lenovo than just being among its fastest growing markets. It is also a global marketing communication hub that operates out of Bengaluru.


According to Ajay Kaul, executive director, global brand communications, Lenovo; “The hub provides end-to-end transnational marketing solutions for Lenovo – right from planning and conceptualization of campaigns, to executing them and measuring and analysing their success.” This is done for more than 50 markets across the globe out of India. There are many more such success stories. But the recipe is far from being complete.


What appears to be missing is a ‘grand strategy’ for India. A clear, and broadly shared notion of where the country is going, and what its role in the community of nations is really going to be in the decades and for the generations to come, according to Simon Anholt, UK based independent policy advisor. After all it is one of the largest and most rapidly growing markets in the world that is being looked at keenly by nations and marketers across the globe. Adds Abheek Singhi, partner and director, Asia Pacific leader – consumer and retail practice, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), “An investment destination brand needs to have the right ‘functional’ attributes to appeal to the hard-nosed investors – and then as an ‘experiential’ brand to make sure that the investor keeps coming back.” Financial investment is also based on perception. However much the investment banker believes that the answer lies in some row or column of his spreadsheet, the truth is that people go by their feelings and opinions while investing.


Agrees Partha Sinha, managing partner, BBH India and adds, “There’s a fundamental problem in the way India is positioned today by the marketing and branding efforts. It’s still ‘incredible’ – the romance of the exotic. For investment, people don’t want to hear about Incredible India – they want to know about credible India.” And that credibility is the composite function of the political environment, corporate governance and economic performance. The stories of how an earthquake ravaged Japan quickly picked and rebuilt itself or how the US became a security nightmare for all outsiders post the 9/11 have already become folklore. Both countries did not lose any time in reclaiming their leadership positions by mobilizing the entire machinery promptly and proactively and also creating the right storytelling.


It may be a good idea to put the tourism hype to rest for a while and talk about a few other things that are right about India. Strengths which have long term potential – a thriving democracy, robust corporate sector, a young population, growing middle-class, increasing urbanization – are stories that have to be told and told well to create the right image of Brand India as an investment destination. India also needs to build new success stories and there are plenty of them, waiting to be chronicled. Rajeev Wagle, managing director, Kuoni India cites the instance of the Indian IT story, where Brand India has been leveraged very well. The fact that India is a nation and an economy ready for progress is the story to be told.


Aparna Dutt Sharma, CEO, India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) lists down many more of such stories that include the world’s second largest pool of scientists and engineers; world’s largest rice exporter and producer of spices; largest manufacturer of tractors, second largest manufacturer of bicycles, largest exporter of generic formulations globally among many others. She says that these facts speak volumes about a nation on the move and it is these and more such touchpoints of Brand India that need to be better understood and communicated. This would require the twin tasks of creating a raised awareness of India in the business and economic context; and at the same time, conceptualizing and building sectoral campaigns for sectors or commodities that hold greater potential.


Designing a well-crafted marketing campaign that turns negatives into challenges and targeting the campaign well are the two must-dos, says Poran Malani, president, Ogilvy India Worldwide. This would also include figuring out not just the core message but also the detailed channel mix – everything from the trade shows to the delegation meetings to the local merchant confederations. After all everyone knows the potential of India, it is the nitty-gritty that they want to know – the how, who and where of it.


The principles of marketing and branding apply in equal measure to countries as they do to corporations. Like in the corporate world, marketing can only help a great product reach its audience faster and better. The product itself needs to have inherent strengths that can be mapped. India will have to work harder to manage certain myths and perceptions that the external world holds. According to Anil Nair, CEO and managing partner, Law & Kenneth; “Indian companies competing globally and global companies succeeding in India is the story to be told.” How about a marketing campaign where global companies who have experienced India successfully -Renault, Audi, Samsung, Lenovo, GE and many others -are the heroes?



How India can make itself more attractive to global entertainment complex?


By Apoorva Mehta


Lights! Camera! Action! Three words that transport us into a world of dreams, hopes, joys and sorrow, and allow us to be touched by the magic of movies! This year, the Indian film industry celebrates 100 years of cinema.


From its humble beginnings when the first silent black-and-white film Raja Harishchandra was made in 1913 to the high tech audio-visual colour extravaganzas that gross over Rs 100 crores in 2013, the Indian film industry has come a long way.


We are today acclaimed as the biggest film industry in the world, producing over 1000 films annually (close to double Hollywood’s output) and selling nearly 3.7 billion tickets. Revenues are currently at approximately $22 billion, with the industry expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.5% to touch $30 billion by 2020.There are growth opportunities in our domestic markets, but it is globalization which is the exciting new frontier.


Globalization has four aspects: the movement of goods and services, capital, technology and people across borders. And the Indian film industry is “globalizing” in each area. Our films reach several international markets with a large number of prints being distributed and exhibited with every big release. This business can be divided into traditional and non-traditional markets. Though business in most of the former (the UK, the US, Australia) is fairly mature, there is still opportunity for expansion. Hong Kong and Benelux, for example, which have seen a limited release (1- 2 prints), now have a much wider footprint. Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani saw a 10-fold increase in revenue in Hong Kong due to its wide release when compared with the collections from a single print for the diaspora.


The big product growth in distribution, however, lies in exploiting new “non-traditional markets”. Recent examples include the first ever large scale release (30 to 70 prints) of Ek Tha Tiger in Japan, and Chennai Express in Peru. There are still many such countries that do not screen our films and offer new markets.


Our film industry’s global ambitions have also been backed by huge capital. One of the biggest examples being Reliance Entertainment’s investment of $325 million for a 50% stake in Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks. Reliance Entertainment has also made a significant investment in exhibition properties, owning more than 200 cinemas in North America.


We are also witnessing the “export” of talented people, with actors and technicians working on impressive overseas projects, like Anil Kapoor in Slumdog Millionaire, Amitabh Bachchan in The Great Gatsby and most recently, Priyanka Chopra in Disney’s Planes and as a singer with her international song release. Indian technology is also going global as domestic VFX, animation and post-production companies are viable lower cost outsourcing options. Reliance and Prime Focus, leading Indian post-production houses have delivered some stunning special effects in the US blockbusters such as Harry Porter, Avatar, The Expendables 2 etc.


The global pie is there for the eating, and it remains to be seen how quickly and how big a bite we are able to take. I am often asked if Indian entertainment will have to change its essential nature to become more global. When we refer to the content and the “Indianness” of our films, then yes, we will have to change their essential nature if we wish to cater to a larger international audience. The quintessential Bollywood film has a different syntax and ethos from Hollywood. Its longer duration (2.5 hours to 3 hours), the plot structure (requiring an intermission), the song and dance elements, the more overt display of emotions, the element of escapist fantasy fare, the inherently Indian values…all these ensure that our films are fundamentally different from Hollywood. And yet it’s these very same factors that lend them their uniqueness and success with diasporic and local audiences. Films are a reflection of the society people live in, hence culturally Indian films tend to appeal less to a global audience.


In fact, today India itself is becoming more diverse, and the big challenge is to make films which appeal to all regions of our own country. Indians, here and overseas, love our movies. It is important for our filmmakers to continue making films that are true to our sensibilities. Just to garner appreciation or capture Western markets, we must not lose the very essence that differentiates us. There are, however, exceptions. The success of My Name Is Khan and 3 Idiots have shown us that films with universal themes that global audiences understand, backed by a strong starcast and worldwide distribution, can cross cultural and linguistic boundaries. My Name Is Khan found huge appreciation in all the middle eastern markets, due to its theme of Muslim discrimination after 9/11. Similarly 3 Idiots did spectacular business in all of South East Asia as audiences there identified with the societal and parental pressures on young students seeking success.


Regardless of whether it’s Indian or otherwise, if a story touches a chord with people around the world, then the film will surely find its feet. India is a country of storytellers. It’s also a country of hardworking talented people with a lower cost base. I am going against common marketing mantras, but I strongly feel we can be both a niche player and a global mass entertainer. We don’t need to choose one or the either.


We can provide “niche” breakthrough content globally (like Lunchbox) and “niche” outsourcing talent for animation and post production facilities; at the same time, we can be successful storytellers of universally accepted popular films.


We need not dilute who we innately are, simply to cater to Western taste and markets. Let us be proud of our culture, our ethos, our films, our talent, “our Bollywood”… for we have come a long way from our humble origins. With our uniquely Indian passion and entrepreneurial grit, even the sky is not the limit!




How India can make itself more attractive to tourists?


By Delshad Irani


As the bestselling cliché goes, you don’t visit India to discover the country, you visit India to discover yourself. And for many decades now this nation has helped wanderers and lost souls from distant lands washing up on its shores find their true selves. Or something of the sort. But perhaps that is so because India does not make it easy for one to discover her, throwing challenges at those who visit her right from the start. The first test would be navigating the gateway to this wondrous and mystical land – the Great Indian Airport.


However, once the bags are off the carousel and in the boot, it’s not hard to see that India does indeed have everything going for her, as made clearly evident in the slick ‘Incredible India’ tourism campaigns over the years. From some of the world’s tallest mountains to deep blue oceans, from Bond’s Udaipur to Bourne’s Goa and a heritage that would provide enough footage to fill all of Discovery Channel’s programming for the year.


Even her shanty towns have become tourist attractions providing big eyed visitors armed with copies of Shantaram and pint-sized bottles of hand sanitizer the favela experience in the heart of an Indian city. Add to that one of the world’s largest and friendliest English speaking populations and what one should have is the hottest of tourist spots. But that is not the case.


According to the UNWTO, international tourist arrivals globally grew by 4% in 2012 to touch an incredible 1.035 billion, in spite of ongoing recessions plaguing the world economy. What was India’s share of 1.035 billion travellers? According to industry figures, inbound traffic stood at 6.5 million foreign tourists. Interestingly, the country supplies more tourists that it receives. 15 million Indians trotted around the globe taking their rupees to some old favourites in Europe and North America and new haunts from Tel Aviv to Tokyo.


In fact, not one Indian destination features on a list of the Top 20 Global Destination Cities Index 2013 by MasterCard. Making matters more intriguing is the fact that this list of top cities by international visitor arrivals has been topped by an Asian destination: Bangkok. (Mumbai’s rank in the 2013 report is 29, but it has clocked in the fourth highest growth rate of international visitor arrivals in the period 2009 to 2013.)


So what does Thailand have that India doesn’t?

Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Futurebrands India, believes, sometimes India’s size is a disadvantage. Even if size doesn’t matter, most of the top ranking destinations such as Bangkok, New York, London, Shanghai and Moscow have in common a very distinct product and experience on offer. “India, on the other hand, is messy. It’s like an over-filled sandwich that is hard to bite into,” says Desai. Of course, sometimes indecisive and ineffective governments, lack of support for a bourgeoning hospitality industry at the grass roots level, security concerns and poor infrastructure make India a very sloppy sandwich indeed. “Nonetheless, every nation has a narrative, sometimes multiple narratives. Marketing can help shape that story, but not control it,” says Desai.


According to independent policy advisor Simon Anholt, tourism promotion can be a very useful way of helping to communicate the landscape, culture and people of a country to the rest of the world. And India’s significant expenditure on high-quality tourism promotion has certainly helped to raise understanding and admiration for the country. It can certainly make the brand more desirable but campaigns like ‘Incredible India’ can only do so much if the experience doesn’t live up to the hype.


Piyush Pandey, executive chairman, Ogilvy India, who also made a brief appearance in a Gujarat tourism promotional video featuring actor Amitabh Bachchan a while ago, believes at the state level as well a lot of good work is happening to build long-term and sustainable tourism economies, for instance Kerala. But even combined these efforts aren’t enough to truly realise the immense potential of Brand India and its various avatars as a tourist attraction.


However, Mr Pandey is hopeful and believes Brand India’s greatest strength lies in its vast population of youth, and missions like the National Skill Development Corporation whose objective is to train young Indians in everything from auto components to providing them with the necessary tools and skills to thrive in the hospitality industry. The problem is if the stream of tourists doesn’t turn into a flood over the next few years we’ll be left with more staff than guests in a crumbling manor.



Source:The Economic Times

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