The Indian respect for the past makes progress slower, but more sustainable
Brand success requires fresh insights into a distinctive market
This second annual BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands report has set a record. It increased an impressive 33 percent in value, a rate that exceeds the growth of the Global Top 100 for every year since the launch of the Global BrandZ™ rankings a decade ago.
India’s strong economy – 7.5 percent GDP growth expected this year – helped drive brand value appreciation, of course. But if brand value depended on economic push alone all brands would benefit, and roughly equally. But that’s not the case.
Most categories in the BrandZ™ India Top 50 improved significantly in brand value, but some did not. And seven brands that actually increased over 20 percent in brand value dropped down in the ranking. They grew fast, but not fast enough.
This growth imperative, and the many other important insights and take aways in this report, lead me to the following three key conclusions, which I believe are critical for all brands that intend to successfully compete in India.
I start with this basic point: No matter what market you’re doing business in, and regardless of how fast it’s growing, success relative to the competition comes down to brand. Successful brands in the India Top 50 understand Indian consumers and their rapidly expanding needs and desires.
These brands have segmented their product portfolios, adding premium and other offerings, and they’ve used media, particularly mobile, in innovative ways. And I’m not speaking only of brands with Indian ownership. In fact, 30 percent of brands in the BrandZ™ India Top 50 are owned by multinationals. These corporations, which are publicly traded in India, have so thoroughly understood the Indian consumer the brands are considered Indian in the consumer’s mind.
Second, Indians today feel empowered. This empowerment is related to optimism inspired in part by the current Indian political leadership and its visionary promises. But it’s deeper. Indians feel proud and confident in the future. According to The Futures Company Global MONITOR, 78 percent of Indians say it’s important to demonstrate pride in India.
This empowerment permeates the society and is the energy that brands need to link with to succeed. That requires brands to not simply tap into the energy, but to connect with it in constructive ways that help Indians build a more prosperous and equitable India.
Third, the prospect of building brands in the fast growing Indian market is exciting, but it’s also challenging because India is different in many ways from other country markets. It will not do to only apply lessons learned from other country markets. If you rely solely on the winning strategies and tactics from your last battle, you’ll likely lose.
Rather, it’s important to understand India in depth, as a young modern state, not yet 70 years old, built on the culture and traditions of a 5,000-year old civilization. India is a place where consumers feel pulled in two directions – to the past and to the future – often at the same time. To succeed in India, brands need to “get” this phenomenon in all its nuances.
This report is a primer in understanding the opportunities and challenges for brand building in India. It examines the BrandZ™ India Top 50 ranking results, explores the many opportunities that brands face in India, and analyzes the cultural distinctions and contradictions that need to be understood in order to build sustainable brand value in a market that’s this complicated and growing with such speed.